Sign painter’s work hangs around Selma

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 10, 2006

The Selma-Times Journal

Out Highway 14, sign painter Sheila Farrell works out of a 30 x 40-foot warehouse filled with tools, paint and signage.

“The Lord blessed me with all of this,” Farrell said. “Sometimes I look at everything I have and I feel so blessed. Sometimes I look at everything and think of all I’ve still got to do, too.I’ve still got so far to go.”

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Farrell’s work adorns buildings all over Selma. Major Grumbles, El Ranchero, International Paper, Cahaba Mental Health Center, Speir Land Company and the St. James Hotel are but a few of the sites that her hand-crafted signs have improved.

“Signs are my bread and butter,” Farrell says, “but I like to add a little something more to them.

I like the art.

Morrow Ornamental Welding does all of my welding. He does a great job. I’ve done Happy Birthday banners, vehicles, interior jobs in private homes, golf carts … I do a lot of volunteer fire trucks – the hand lettering is great fun.

The St. James Hotel? That’s all hand-lettered, every sign you see there, I did, from the numbers on the doors to the ballroom signs.”

Farrell works in vinyl, airbrush, aluminum, sandblasted redwood and handlettering.

She also does vehicle and window lettering and murals.

“I have the best customer base,” Farrell said.

“I have a lot of repeat customers and they are so good to wait on me when I get backlogged.”

Her entrance sign for International Paper is 5 x 20 feet, but the largest sign she’s done to date was five stories tall – for Globe Metallurgical. Cahaba Mental Health’s sign was her first foray into sandblasting and the Major Grumbles signs, she’s proud to say she designed herself.

“I learned from the two best guys in Selma,” Farrell said, “Ronnie Lipham and Aubrey Guinn.

I apprenticed for two years with Ronnie.

He likes to do big jobs.

When I went self-employed, he sent me so much work.

For two years, I worked out of a 10 x 16-foot space.

Can you imagine?”

Farrell is mother to two daughters, Erica and Emily and attends First United Pentecostal Church.

“I pretty much just work and go to church,” says the native of Greece. “My motto is that old classic: look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, and work like a dog.”