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Local sign maker talks about the love of his craft and more

CHASE BOTTORF/THE EXPRESS Gary Lamey poses in front of a wall filled with examples of his work inside his business along North Eagle Valley Road in Howard.

HOWARD — After making over one thousand wood carved signs, one local sign maker sees no end in sight.

Gary “Gair the Painter” Lamey, has been designing, carving and painting custom signs since the 1960s. His love for the creative side of sign making stemmed from an early age.

“I have always been drawing and painting ever since I was ten years old,” Lamey said.

Lamey served in the Army until he was discharged in the early 1960s. After getting out of the Army, he was offered a job at a local sign maker shop. With his creative know-how, Lamey pursued the trade of sign making, learning everything there was to know. Since then, he has cultivated over one thousand signs and custom vehicle lettering for people and businesses all over Pennsylvania. Each one usually starting from a rough sketch of what the customer’s intentions are.

“Most of them — my bigger signs — aren’t around here, they’re down in Lancaster and places like that looking for carved signs,” Lamey said. “Usually, the best I can get out of a customer is a rough sketch. Usually it is just an idea and I sit down and go from there. “

CHASE BOTTORF/THE EXPRESS A “Pray for the people of Ukraine” is pictured on a fence outside of Great Island Presbyterian Church. The sign was created by Gair the Painter, a local sign maker.

Originally, the signs he made were mostly for businesses, he added. Now half of the signs he makes are for businesses while the other half is for the general public — informational signs, names of farms, houses or anything else.

Most recently, Lamey has made several wooden signs for local churches in solidarity with the current war happening in Ukraine. Each sign says “Pray for Ukraine” or “Pray for the People of Ukraine” and can be seen at The Great Island Presbyterian Church in Lock Haven.

Though he is known for his wood carved signs, two of Lamey’s biggest projects involved more than just those. Taking him over a year and a half to complete, Lamey painted the locally famous mural in the Roxy Movie Theater that lines the halls leading to theaters two and three. The murals are painted with many popular Hollywood films that grasp the movie going experience.

Another huge project he worked on was Fin, Fur and Feather Trading Post wildlife museum. With the help of his kids, it took him two years to complete, he said.

Lamey also became famous through national motorcycle magazines with another passion of his — motorcycle painting/designing.

CHASE BOTTORF/THE EXPRESS Gair the Painter is pictured above, located at 11239 North Eagle Valley Road in Howard.

“For a couple years, I did several hundred motorcycles. We have had pictures in a dozen national magazines — painting and designing murals, flames, etc.,” he said.

Recently, he just finished working on a patriotic, stars and stripes designed motorcycle.

For what he wants to do with the rest of his life, a love of fly fishing is something he wishes he could do.

“If I had my choice of what to do with the rest of my life, I’d be out fly fishing somewhere but that has got to be a hazard now. Because I’d end up floating down along the streams because I don’t have any sense of balance anymore,” he laughed.

Though, he will not be hanging up the sign making just yet, he does not know how much longer he can keep going economically with the business.

PHOTO PROVIDED This sign at Laurel Run Farm is one of many examples of Gair’s work.

“I will probably be working on something when they bury me. It’s getting to the point where it is not economically feasible for us much anymore. I can’t do big signs because it is just me and my wife. There is just stuff we can’t handle. It’s still fun but I’d still rather come to work than anything,” Lamey expressed.

Lamey’s business, Gair the Painter, is located at 11239 North Eagle Valley Road in Howard. For more information contact Lamey at 570-962-3454.

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