Mural brightens up Linear Trail

By on July 1, 2014

Shaun Hogarth believes smiles are infectious.

Shaun Hogarth, with sons Kaleb and Jackson, are all smiles in front of his “Smile” mural located on the back wall of Ay Machine along the Ephrata Linear Trail.

Shaun Hogarth, with sons Kaleb and Jackson, are all smiles in front of his “Smile” mural located on the back wall of Ay Machine along the Ephrata Linear Trail.

“When someone smiles at you, you generally smile back and that makes you feel good,” said Hogarth, an Ephrata artist.

That thought inspired Hogarth’s latest mural which he completed last week along the Ephrata Linear Trail.

Hogarth’s 80-foot-long mural rises 20 feet to spell out the five-letter word “Smile” in 12-foot letters.

Blue, yellow, red, and green block letters appear to float on a blue border in the middle of the white-washed wall on the back of Ay Machine off East King Street.

“Lots of up and down on the ladders,” Hogarth said.

Hogarth, 35, with the “help” of his sons, Kaleb, 6, and Jackson, 3, completed the mural just in time to brighten the path for Friday’s Firecracker 5K Run.

“Who knows, maybe it’ll provide a boost for some runners on the Fourth,” said Nancy Harris, Ephrata Borough planning and engineering manager.

Runners hitting the walking trail at Main Street will see the mural rise up along the sun-splashed wall that appears to light up like neon lights along a shady stretch of the path.

“It’s fantastic,” said Tori McBreen, who walked the path Thursday morning.

“What can you say? It really does bring a smile to your face.”

Doug and Tina, an Ephrata couple walking their goldendoodle on the trail, paused last week to admire the mural.

“It makes it cheerful. It has a very clean feel to it,” Doug said.

“It pops,” said Tina. “Very cheery.”

Ay Machine shop owner , Rick Ay Sr. loved the idea when Hogarth pitched it. He agreed to pay for paint, and provide materials and ladders.

“Shaun did a great job,” Ay said. “The mural shows his passion — he really believes in what he is doing.”

Harris praised both Hogarth and Ay Machine, a family precision machine shop founded in 1956.

The wall has been a target for graffiti artists whose often vulgar “tags” inspired frowns rather than a smiles.

“That’s a wonderful solution to a property that’s been a bit of a problem,” Harris said. “(Hogarth) has created something unique and interesting along the trail.”

Hogarth, who attended The Art Institute of Philadelphia, admitted to being a “tasteful” tagger in Philadelphia — though “never on private property.”

“There’s rules to (tagging), it has its own subculture,” Hogarth said. “I’ve never disrespected anybody’s property…you don’t write on people’s houses, churches, or schools.”

The project started more than a year ago when Hogarth approached Ay.

Hogarth finally cleared his schedule and began work two months ago. He brought Ay sketches prepared from pictures he’d taken of the wall “so he could see what the final product would look like.”

“He had great suggestions, but “Smile” was a winner,” Ay said.

Hogarth said he enjoyed his volunteer work and is looking for more opportunities in the Ephrata area.

“It was clear that I couldn’t be paid for the job, but Rick agreed to pay for all of the supplies,” Hogarth said. “We decided on a final design, and once the weather allowed, start to finish — it probably took 40 hours total.”

The “Smile” letters cover Ay Machine’s wall from end to end. The project required seven gallons of white bucket paint to roll the entire wall prior to starting the letters.

“I wanted a clean background for the rest of the wall,” he said. “I used 52 cans of spray paint for the actual mural.”

The project began with a pressure wash that eliminated loose paint, dirt and grime.

He rolled it solid white before drafting an 80-foot by 10-foot paper grid of one-inch squares then placed the letters on the grid. Then those letters were made into letters with 12-inch squares.

“After that I created an 80-foot by 10-foot grid on the wall with one-foot squares,” he said. “This was by far the hardest, most time consuming part of the job.

He used two- and four-foot levels for the grid process. Hogarth then scaled the letters onto the wall with a contractors pencil following the sketch on the paper grid.

Once satisfied with the sketch, Hogarth started filling everything in with spray paint.

“The best part of the whole process was the amount of people who stopped to talk to me while I was working, and the sincere positively that they all had regarding what I was doing,” he said.

One women named Ann was especially positive and encouraging about the mural, he said.

“Ann, who came out to see it over and over while I was working even had her family over for dinner and brought them all out to see it, because of how happy it made her,” he said.

Money is nice, but making people happy has a whole different kind of value. People like Ann made it all worth while.”

Patrick Burns is a staff writer and editor for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at or at 721-4455¶

Shaun Hogarth, with sons Kaleb and Jackson, are all smiles in front of his “Smile” mural located on the back wall of Ay Machine along the Ephrata Linear Trail.


Hogarth volunteered his talents to make the mural. Ay Machine supplied paint, materials and equipment to finish the 80-feet long by 20-foot-high “Smile.”

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