While I sculpted the animals using Abracadabra Sculpting Epoxy, the crew began tying on the galvanized mesh to the welded pencil rod frame—the crew’s least favourite job. The more complex the shape the harder it is to wire, but the better it will look when we are done.
I haven’t sculpted a cat previously but had fun shaping the stylized feline. The fur texture was done with a sharpened paint stir stick. You can see that the mesh has all been tied to the wire frame.
The tree was done the next day. Denzie and Alyssa (our new hires) did the sculpting under my watchful eye. It turned out extremely well!
The entire sign received three coats of base colors —all brushed on by hand—using Sherwin Williams house paints.
As we do with all of our projects the base coats were followed with a series of glazes. These were liberally brushed on and then wiped off to highlight the detail of the textures we had carved in. A little dry brushing was the final step.
The sign face was routed on our MultiCam router in three layers of 30-lb. Precision Board high density urethane board.
I really enjoyed sculpting the dog. The eye bolt over the back legs will be removed after installation. I’ll fill the hole with a little epoxy and dab on some paint to finish the project.
The finished sign will be a real head turner when it is installed. The sign lettering was finished with 23K gold leaf from W&B Gold Leaf.

A landmark sign for a pet hospital

By Dan Sawatzky

Posted on Friday, December 28th, 2018

Not long ago, a veterinarian from a neighboring town dropped by our shop. She wanted to rebrand her business with one of our distinctive signs. We began with a tour of our shop and studio. As she looked at the more than 150 samples on the walls we quickly got an idea of what she liked. We then went up to the studio and discussed her needs and goals for the project.

Then she said the magic words: “I want a landmark sign, something that will make people take notice.” We came up with a design that they enthusiastically approved and encouraged us to have fun with the build.

I photographically documented the entire build process from start to finish and provided our customer with regular updates during the six week building process. We also posted each step of the construction, starting with the approved design, on our website journal and social media pages. Our client did the same.


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Dan Sawatzky

Dan Sawatzky's shop, Sawatzky's Imagination Corporation, is in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. Dan shares his experience in his Sign Magic Workshops on 3-D sign making, and his Sculpting Workshop.