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History Pre-Watson Flames

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Jive-Bomber, Jun 30, 2015.

  1. Jive-Bomber
    Joined: Aug 21, 2001
    Posts: 3,230


    Jive-Bomber submitted a new blog post:

    Pre-Watson Flames


    Continue reading the Original Blog Post
  2. Ryan
    Joined: Jan 2, 1995
    Posts: 18,762

    from Austin, TX
    Staff Member

    Great post Jay...

    This is something I've been thinking about for a couple of years now. It's time for flames to make a come back. I've always loved the right style lick on the right style car.
    willbe and J.Ukrop like this.
  3. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 23,778

    Jalopy Joker

    Cool - yep, flames completely transform a car. good to have some back history
  4. bowie
    Joined: Jul 27, 2011
    Posts: 2,082


    Always have liked the looks of the early simple flame style. Your lead pic (The Flamer) floats my boat! Great topic!
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  5. flamingokid
    Joined: Jan 5, 2005
    Posts: 2,199


    Me too.The right flames on the right car is just....right.
  6. I always wanted flames on my 41 pickup, but never the talent to do them. At the time about 15 years ago flames were coming back, but they were more 'street rodder' looking. But I knew someone that used to paint flames but had stopped when 'The Communists' took over the paint industry. He would come by the shop to talk and complain and I finally got the courage to ask, 'Larry, if you flamed my truck, how would you do it?" he replied' Hell, I would just do the front fenders only, that's all you need with that truck' at which point I handed him a greese pencil and said 'show me'. Before I could get a roll of film into a camera he had finished one fender. "there ya go Tony, but Larry it's only one fender,, Tony you how to copy it to the other one,,,,
    Thoes fenders have been all over California to Texas. Larry didn't paint them or strip them, but he had a hand on them.
    15 years later I have to decide to let the art continue to fade or change them and put the originals on the wall.
  7. treb11
    Joined: Jan 21, 2006
    Posts: 3,290


    My favorite takeaways from the articles:
    " Dean Jefferies the kid pinstriper from Lynwood"
    "... difficult scallop treatment of flames by Tommy the Greek...." Scallops originated as flames?!?!?!?
    that Crosley is BITCHIN!
    and what the hell color is "heliotrope" ? Edit - Purple
  8. Louie
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 642

    from NJ

  9. weez
    Joined: Dec 5, 2002
    Posts: 860


    I think it's important to do some research and get flames designed by someone who's hip to the style you're after. You can do a primitive style and still have it be well designed. If you just go to a run of the mill custom paint place they're probably gonna want to do a street rod style on your car. Some of the early ones were definitely lacking, but there's a way to get that jagged, primitive flavor and still have it flow. A good example (to me at least) is that '28-'29 A pickup that has the flame layout I did on my "Strong Mixture" painting.

    Attached Files:

  10. Austinrod
    Joined: Jun 14, 2012
    Posts: 1,757

    from Austin

  11. Although I must confess that when it comes to flame designs I tend to favor the Jeffries' approach.Having said that I must also say that the 32 five window in the lead picture is the most drop dead gorgeous flame job I have ever seen. From the colors(metallic bronze and line green as I recall) to the execution it is flawless. I have tried many times to lay out that style of flame and have given up in disgust every time.It is(to me anyway)an extremely difficult pattern to get down and get right. I forget who did it originally(maybe Donn Varner?) but they definitely got it right!
    falcongeorge and bowie like this.
  12. Model T1
    Joined: May 11, 2012
    Posts: 3,310

    Model T1

    Way back in 1975 I painted my 1939 Ford and did my own half assed flame and srriping job on it.
    Always been ashamed of it but it's still on there.
    To me a black car with white/yellow/orange/to red flowing flames is best. IMG_20150504_145904927.jpg
    tb33anda3rd likes this.
  13. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 9,823

    Atwater Mike

    Donn Varner's work was in the league of Tommy the quality. Donn's modest, and I wish he'd documented his work. (his painting is a gift...but his cars are even more advanced.
    Let's not forget Rod Powell...Flames extraordinaire!
    I think everybody agrees the traditionally flamed '40 Tudor of Bob McCoy was the 'real thing'...
    The Real McCoy? :D

    I saw the bronze "Barris '32" in January of '55, San Jose Autorama. I was really 'taken' by it, as I'd followed the stories in R&C little pages, the fabricating of the sunken grille, the bobbed rear fenders, and the making of the nerf bars.
    I was young, (13) but couldn't help noticing the absence of a crankshaft nose in the all-chrome Caddy!
    There was a plastic cap, and I asked George Barris about it...his fiance', Shirley was with him, she was Movie Star quality.
    He gave me the typical 'kid shine', and Shirley gave him a sentence or two that embarrassed me...
    George suddenly transformed into the well of information he's come to be known for.
    "Ran out of time, the machinist didn't get the rods and crank finished, and the Show must go on..."
    But he did elaborate on the bobbed fenders, they were accentuated by the nerf, and the Von Dutch 'fountain' on the trunk and rear pan...astounding.

    Donn Varner was looking at the flames on Mike DeSando's '41 pickup at the West Coast NSRA show at the San Jose Fairgrounds. (1982)
    "Who did these, they look pretty good...nice flow." "I did, Donn...Thanks."
    He said, "I didn't know you painted..." I answered, "I don't. But Mike wanted a 'fire truck'...":p
    Donn gave me his usual, "Ya, right!"
    falcongeorge and jim mchargue like this.
  14. Okie Pete
    Joined: Oct 29, 2008
    Posts: 3,092

    Okie Pete

    Great thread I do enjoy the older style of flames.
  15. Donn Varner is one of the reasons I learned to stripe after seeing his gorgeous 40 Ford coupe in a 1956 Rod & Custom along with his fantastic striping. I had mentioned his name on here once awhile back and got an e-mail from someone who worked for Donn and sent me several pictures of a 40 Ford coupe that he had put together. Although he hadn't striped in awhile he was thinking about putting stripes on the 40. Don't know if he ever did but here are the pictures of it. Wonder if he still has it? Dons-40-Ford-1.jpg Dons-40-Ford-2.jpg Dons-40-Ford-3.jpg Dons-40-Ford-4.jpg
  16. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    from BC

    Wow! Keith, you wanna see where I wanna take my convert, this is it. Sweet jesus! Except I want to keep the door handles, windshield trim and stock taillights. But DAMN thats nice!
    Look how well the filled and peaked hood works with the stock '39 side trim...
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2015
    Model T1 likes this.
  17. steel rebel
    Joined: Jun 14, 2006
    Posts: 3,604

    steel rebel
    Member Emeritus

    In the middle '60s while changing my 45 from a dirt bike (that I rode all over the Oakland hills) into a street machine I installed the peanut tank. I had a friend lay out long pointy flames and they were just what I had in mind. After painting them I took the tank to the Greek for pin striping. His comment when I walked in with the tank was "that's not how you do flames". He didn't explain what he meant but I just took it for a Greek putdown which everybody got when entering his shop.

    Atwater Mike and falcongeorge like this.
  18. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 9,823

    Atwater Mike

    Ha! The 'Greek putdown'! My old bud Morris Srabian called it, "Gettin' Greeked"!
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  19. Reminds me of the flame decals that came in early AMT model kits!
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 7,827


    What he said. I always think of low brow hot rod comics too, or off the wall 'toon books where the bad guy has a flamed hot rod. I must say that many of those designs are simply not pretty, nor do they seem professional. I get the fact that it was an up and coming art form and that early efforts seem quite crude. I enjoy seeing it now and then but I'd have to have something more refined if I were to flame something. Not long ago our pages were filled with haters regarding the evolution to true fire. The fad has passed but some of that work was just short of incredible. The worst examples ended up looking like Swiss Cheese or Sponge Bob, usually because the one who did it got stuck on a single radius or pattern and over used it as well. Knowing when to quit, be it traditional, tribal, true fire, or even this early comic version, is what I think the real discipline is. Too much of anything looks bad regardless of style. Kool topic, thanks...
    Model T1, kiwijeff and jim mchargue like this.
  21. Stunning, sits right and looks killer.
    And as I have often said of women, "Drop Dead Gorgeous"
  22. Pretty cool that we're back here on this, considering the recent glut of flame appropriation seen in the consumer world 150125\'32Setback\'57-copy.jpg
    Martin Harris, kiwijeff and autobilly like this.
  23. Gotgas
    Joined: Jul 22, 2004
    Posts: 6,757

    from DFW USA

    Volume 1, Number 1.

    Kiwifruit likes this.
  24. autobilly
    Joined: May 23, 2007
    Posts: 3,094


    I think that the "modern" traditional style is the natural evolution/refinement of the concept.
    Although not the subject of this thread, it should be remembered that the "post Watson" style has been around since the mid '50's and is traditional, despite saturation of current general product marketing.
  25. raprap
    Joined: Oct 8, 2009
    Posts: 768

    from Ohio

    I did mine all freehanded. The two sides are completely different. Some people like the flame mirrored so they are the same on both sides. I was going to do mine that way but thought to do them completely different.

    Chevy 1 10-2-13.jpg IMG_6428.JPG
    Martin Harris, kiwijeff and Model T1 like this.
  26. Tarlo
    Joined: Dec 7, 2008
    Posts: 186


  27. Flames are fun, and when I painted my avatar, flames were always part of the plan.
    I looked at the different styles, and decided in the end, to design my own.
    Ive been drawing flames since 1976, back then, it was on my hand with biros, and more than once, got the wrong type of attention from the teacher. :D
    I was planning on white pin striping, but liked em so much without, that the striping is on hold.
    I did flame and stripe the driveshaft though.
    Cool thread, I like the big chunky flame look some of the early belly tanks had. :cool:
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2015
    Model T1 likes this.
  28. Model T1
    Joined: May 11, 2012
    Posts: 3,310

    Model T1

    Me too! That looks so clean the way it is though.
    When I get rich :rolleyes:maybe I can have two like that. One with white/yellow/orange/to red flames!;)

    It doesn't show but when I sold my 55 Chevy wagon temporarily the owner had ghost flames added. Not a fan of those.
  29. TexasSpeed
    Joined: Nov 2, 2009
    Posts: 4,607


    Chunky flames rule..
    kiwijeff likes this.

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