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The Confederate Craft Keeper

Sevierville, TN’s Custom Craftsman Signs gives this cabin-rental office some rustic Southern flavor.



Brother Zank, who runs Custom Craftsman Signs (Sevierville, TN) with his wife, Vicki, opened his shop in 1988 after several years of having worked in various signshops. Situated near Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, near Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and their rustic environs, Zank enjoys fertile ground for entry monuments, building signs and other dimensional graphics that reflect the area’s homespun character.

Tourism provides a key cog in east Tennessee’s economic engine, and establishments that cater to the region’s visitors provide a large chunk of Custom Craftsman’s business. Zank and his team recently fabricated a supersized entry statement for Auntie Belham’s, a company that provides cabin rentals in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. (“Auntie Belham’s” is a clever play on “antebellum,” a term commonly used in reference to the pre-Civil War South.)

The whimsical, 14-ft.-tall monument, incorporates a faux-rock, stucco-on-cement backdrop, which upscale homebuilder Bush Builders constructed (Bush also produced the stonework and foundation). After having formulated the design using CorelDraw 4 and Adobe Photoshop®, Custom Craftsman crafted the faux logs and text from 15-lb. Sign*Foam, and outlined the letters with ¼- and 3/8-in.-thick aluminum sheet. The window comprises PVC and frosted acrylic, and the bear who meanders up the monument’s side was chainsaw-cut from a single, 900-lb. sycamore log and pin-mounted to the slab through a custom, steel plate.

The log gable caps onto the slab and was attached with adhesive. Zank siliconed the letters into the slab surfaces with copper sleeves to conceal any exposed studs. The tenant sign features a Foam Visions (Ronkonkoma, NY) bark-textured, cast-urethane panel that’s laminated to a treated-plywood sheet with strap-steel brackets. Zank and his team painted the letters with oil-based lettering enamels and coated the remaining elements with Sikkens wood finishes.



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