Dan Sawatzky’s Sign Magic Workshop

Coastal Enterprises, manufacturers of Precision Board HDU, is proud to announce a series of guest blogs written by Dan Sawatzky of Imagination Corporation, which will be posted on the Precision Board Blog each month. In this month’s entry, Dan Sawatzky tells us about the Sign Magic Workshops that he has been putting on for more than ten years now (and which Coastal Enterprises has been a proud sponsor of!) and the special name plaques each workshop participant gets fabricated from PBLT-30 Precision Board HDU.

As I came up in this business I found many I looked to for knowledge kept the ‘secrets’ hidden to those of us just starting out. I determined back then that when I was able I would instead share everything I knew. In the process I have found I learn much more than I can possibly give back.

One of the ways we share our knowledge is to host workshops a couple of times each year. Amazingly, we’ve welcomed hundreds of wonderful and talented people from around the world to our shop for these intense learning sessions. Each workshop is three long days of learning where we immerse our eager guests in everything we do in our shop. We do our best to answer every question, and share every technique we know. Through the three days of the workshop I give a series of talks about our design philosophy, pricing, marketing and so much more.


Each participant also has the opportunity for plenty of hands-on learning as we tackle a series of projects. We work with Precision Board, sculpting epoxy, welding steel, sculpting concrete and our unique way of painting. A whole lot of fun is crammed into the three days.

Coastal Enterprises has been a proud sponsor of our workshops since the first one, more than ten years ago. THANKS from myself, our crew and the hundreds of students through the years!

One of the ways we like to welcome our participants is to create a custom name plaque for everyone. Each name plaque measures about one square foot and is routed from a piece of 1.5” thick 30 lb Precision Board. These are painted up in magical ways by our expert crew. In the last week I’ve designed and routed the twenty name plaques for the next Sculpture Magic Workshop to be held this coming October. It’s still early but we like to be ready well in advance. This workshop sold out in only five hours!

The next Sign Magic Workshop will soon be announced for spring, 2019. For information you can check out this LINK.  Scroll to the bottom to see a gallery of this year’s routed plaques.

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.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”20″ gal_title=”Sign Magic Workshop”]

Letterheads: Keepers of the Craft – 40th Anniversary

For generations, men and woman designed, carved, lettered and painted signs by hand. In today’s world, machinery is taking the lead in signage with its ability to mass produce or “set it and forget it”, but what about the flowing subtleties and unique touches that lead to a top-notch sign? Letterheads ‘Keepers of the Craft’ are all about keeping traditions alive and Coastal is proud to be a part of the 40th anniversary.

This special 40th anniversary will be held, appropriately, at the American Sign Museum in a few weeks on September 24th through the 27th. This four-day event will offer two days of formal workshops – aka, Letterhead University, and two days of informal sessions such as panel jams, murals, impromptu demonstrations, and more. The workshops offer a range of topics with an emphasis on traditional techniques and design.

Coastal Enterprises has sponsored the Letterhead Meets, with Precision Board HDU, since the early 90s, and still to this day, we are very honored to be part of it. Kellie Miller will be in attendance for all 4 days of Letterhead40, and besides having a table, she will be available at the workshop offered by Noella Cotnam and Shane Durnford, “Letter carving and Then Some”. She’ll be there to help with any and all questions regarding HDU and finishing products (Primers, adhesives, texture coatings, etc.). This is a 2-day class offered on the 24th and 25th among the 28+ classes available, but time is of the essence as these classes fill up quickly.

If you don’t have time for the workshops, stop by Coastals table for free samples and demonstrations.

Online Registration ends on September 10th so be sure to register ASAP!

Letterhead40 Registration


Noella Cotnam, 2009. Don’t forget to sign up for her carving class co-taught with Shane Durnford.


Cam Bortz – Callander, Scotland, 2006


Stewart McLaren, Brenda Daley, Mike Meyer – Winter Muster, 2004

photo 1.1

Mozeppa Muster, 1999



Terry Colley – Callander, Scotland, 2006

letterhead timeline

Bring a piece from a past letterhead meet to share with others and place on the 48ft display shelf!

Check out their website, www.letterhead40.com, or look for them on Facebook! You’ll find more details about the meet and see more pictures that will give you an even greater appreciation for the craft. Hope to see you there!


Spring 2013 Sign MAGIC Workshop

The spring 2013 Sign Magic Workshop is now behind us. We had a full workshop with a class of very eager students. We changed things up a little this time with the meals taken in the new house. We were able to seat thirty people (students and our team of helpers) at one table comfortably. It worked out well and it was a great test drive of the new house. Our guests enjoyed looking at every detail we had incorporated throughout it’s construction.
With the workshop meals in the new house it freed up a whole lot of space in the shop. Once again we were able to seat everyone at a single table, making things easier and more enjoyable for all.
Jeff Hartman, one of the creators of EnRoute was our guest lecturer. He did a great job. We routed a lot more sample pieces during this workshop showing how the files were created how they routed and then how we finished them.

We also did hands-on demonstrations of our fiberglass-reinforced-concrete carving techniques.

 The hands-on painting and sculpting was enjoyed by all.

And here’s a shot of the entire class.

It was a fun workshop without a doubt. Thanks to all who participated!
Tomorrow we begin the Sculpting MAGIC Workshop. Stay tuned…
-grampa dan

Published with permission from precisionboard.blogspot.com. Source.

Almost ready for the workshops

The spring workshops are now just around the corner with the first students due to arrive tomorrow. We’ve been busy getting ready! The samples the students will work on are all prepared, The name plaques are getting their final touches. The shop has been cleaned from top to bottom. We are almost ready.

We’ve stocked up on all the supplies we need and begun final preparations for the sculpting workshop as well which begins next week. Those preparations will be tucked away until just before the workshop starts. Today, Matt and I began welding the tree structures. The students will take the projects from this point, welding up the substructure, through to final sculpt.
We’ll be taking lots of pictures through the workshops. I’ll post a report or two along the way. Stay tuned…

Published with permission from precisionboard.blogspot.com. Source.


The last name tag for the workshops is for Kelsey.  The file was created entirely in EnRoute. As per usual it started with vectors.

The outside border relief was created flat, then I also selected the inside oval and added a dome panel with a slightly raised edge.

The rivets were created as separate reliefs, also domed.

The lettering border was also created as a separate flat relief.

This relief was then modified using the dome tool and the large oval. The rivet reliefs were modified in the same manner.

I used the sandblasted woodgrain bitmap from the TEXTURE MAGIC collection.

The last steps were to merge everything together and then add the raised lettering.

Next we are on to paint.

Published with permission from precisionboard.blogspot.com. Source.