Hazelnut Inn Sign – A Mix of Materials and Techniques

Coastal Enterprises, manufacturers of Precision Board HDU, is proud to host guest blogs written by some of the signage industry’s biggest movers and shakers, posted to the Precision Board Blog.  This guest blog is written by Dan Sawatzky with Imagination Corporation in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada.  This month, Dan is showing us how he used a variety of materials, including Precision Board, and different techniques to fabricate the main sign for the Hazelnut Inn.  He also talks a bit about how the design changed during the building process and why.

hazelnut inn

In Dan Sawatzky’s own words…

They say your own sign is the hardest to design and fabricate. It’s true. It took multiple tries before we were satisfied with the design for the Hazelnut Inn. I purposely didn’t worry about colour at this point for I knew things would change as we went. The only thing we were sure about was that the lettering would be 23K gold and the letters would be prismatic.

In the end we settled on shades of brown for the backgrounds. The leaves would be made of plasma cut sheet steel. There were more than a thousand of them in all. I kept adding until it looked perfect. The dished oval background was cut from a piece of 4” thick PBLT-30 Precision Board HDU. A stylized leaf pattern was routed into the background.

The tree trunk and branches as well as the small rocks below were hand sculpted using sculpting epoxy over a metal armature.

hazelnut inn

We sprayed the leaves with a mild acid to encourage a rusty patina. Once it had fully developed we lightly sanded it and then clear coated the leaves. The tree trunk and backgrounds were hand painted with acrylic paints.

hazelnut inn

A base for the sign was welded up over a sturdy block foundation and concrete footer. Metal lath was then attached to the armature in preparation for the hand sculpted concrete.

We then troweled on a thick coat of fiberglass-reinforced concrete and allowed it to partially cure. This was then hand-sculpted to look like brick and rock. In keeping with the Inn story, it couldn’t be perfectly straight and level. Instead, the lines were playful and fun. The two metal brackets are to attach the lettering once the dirty work was complete.

hazelnut inn

Once the sculpted concrete work had cured, the painting process began, first with base coats and then a series of glazes to bring out the textures. The colours, textures and simulated materials perfectly matched the architecture of the Hazelnut Inn around it.

As we worked up the colours we also changed the colours on the background and tree of the sign to make every element work together.  As soon as the rest of the work is complete on the retaining walls we will begin the landscape. You can bet we will pay just as much attention to detail to ensure everything goes together flawlessly.

Sawatzky’s Imagination Corporation is a small family company that specializes in the design and creation of dimensional signs and environments. They tackle projects of any size from small signs to entire theme parks. Their work has garnered numerous national and international awards.

Dan Sawatzky is best described as a creative force and visual storyteller extraordinaire. His art career spans almost fifty years of magic. Dan’s passion is to design and create imaginative places that take people from the normal world to a setting of delight and wonder.

Coastal Enterprises manufactures Precision Board HDU, a versatile, cost-effective and eco-friendly urethane sign material that is particularly effective for making professional-looking indoor and outdoor dimensional signs.  It is a closed-cell rigid substrate that does not rot, warp or crack.  You can request free samplesget a quote or sign up for periodic newsletters packed with helpful information.