A Quarterboard for Madaket Millie

Madaket Millie | Danthonia Designs

Madaket Millie (image courtesy of NPR)

This is Madaket Millie, a folk heroine well-known to the people of Nantucket, and more specifically, the town of Madaket. Her real name was Millie Jewett.

‘No one visiting Madaket could miss Millie Jewett. She was a powerfully built woman in her fifties with stringy gray hair and a light brown complexion…Of her many feats, she had beaten the head of the YMCA at Indian wrestling, had harpooned a shark with a pitchfork…and so faithfully volunteered for the coast guard that in later years she was made an honorary warrant officer…She ran a small store to which we would often go for ice cream.’ -Bill Hoadley Please Walk Your Horses Up This Hill

She lived on Nantucket from 1907 until her death in 1990, and has been immortalised as a local legend. Although she was never one to brag about her accomplishments, she didn’t mind confirming or denying the many wild and humourous tales that surrounded her. Since her death, a children’s book has been written about her, and a bridge and a restaurant have been named in her honour.

View from Millie's Bridge, Madaket | Danthonia Designs Blog

View from Millie’s Bridge, Madaket (image courtesy of Greg Hinson)

The tourist trap of the northeastern USA, Nantucket is filled with eateries of every price range and description. Millie’s restaurant is unpretentious and proudly local, like its namesake.

Millie's Restaurant, Madaket | Danthonia Designs Blog

Millie’s Restaurant, Madaket (image courtesy of Timothy Valentine)

Although Millie’s Restaurant is not the same building as Millie’s house (sometimes a source of confusion to tourists), it certainly shares some similarities. Both are wooden weatherboard structures at the water’s edge. Both have beautiful views of beach and ocean. One notable difference had been that Millie’s house was adorned with a carved and gilded quarterboard sign while the restaurant had none. Now, the restaurant has a quarterboard, too – actually two of them: One hanging above the entrance, the other hanging from the ceiling above the bar.

Madaket Millie's House | Danthonia Designs Blog

Madaket Millie’s House (image courtesy of knockdown7400)

Millie's House with Quarterboard | Danthonia Designs Blog

..with a quarterboard on the wall (image courtesy of Nick)

The restaurant quarterboards were made in our workshop. It does seem a little strange to be carving quarterboards in Inverell and shipping them to Nantucket (a bit like selling coal to Newcastle). But it was a fun project, taking us back to the roots of the sign-carving tradition. Furthermore, several members of our crew grew up in the Northeastern USA and enjoy making signs for ‘the old country’ from our shop in New England, Australia.

Gilded Stars | Danthonia Designs Blog

Gilded Stars, ready to mount on the quarterboard

For Millie’s quarterboards, we used the typeface Aviano, which has a gracious classical elegance that goes well between the two gilded barn-stars. The combination of black and gold showed up well against the light weathered wood of the restaurant.Millie's Restaurant | Danthonia Designs Blog

Millie's Restaurant Sign (Danthonia Designs)

The quarterboards have now been hanging for more than a year and have even resulted in further enquiries. One gentleman from Florida, after enjoying a meal at Millie’s, bought a similar sign for his own house – ‘Dovey’s Nest’.

Gilded Quarterboard | Danthonia Designs Blog

So, next time you’re in Madaket, be sure to turn your sandy bare feet towards Millie’s Restaurant for a New England Lobster roll and a mug of Whale’s Tail Pale Ale!

Millies Nantucket T-Shirt | Danthonia Designs Blog

Our sign even found it’s way onto a T-Shirt (image courtesy of cyn4)

Signs for the Stanley Hotel

Julian and Tracey Jacobs

Julian and Tracey Jacobs, owners of the Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel in Northwest Tasmania is wedged between the Tarkine Wilderness and the Ocean Wilderness of Bass Strait. It is a place that I had wanted to visit for a long time…

– James Woodford, The Wollemi Pine

Stanley, Tasmania

View over Stanley, Tasmania, showing a unique outcropping known as ‘The Nut’ (image courtesy of Tony)

I always enjoy making a sign for an establishment with a bit of history behind it and The Stanley Hotel in Tasmania is certainly one of these. One look at the building makes it clear that it has been around for a while, but – like a well-dressed elderly gentleman – it carries its age with style. The signs we made have been hanging for nearly six years now, and this week Tracy Jacobs, proprietor of The Stanley Hotel, has kindly written down a little about the history of the place:

The Stanley Hotel Sign

(image courtesy of Jules Hawk)

The first Europeans arrived in ‘Circular Head’ in 1826. The township was later renamed ‘Stanley’ in 1842 after Lord Stanley. Stanley became a bustling community and the population was recorded as 233 in 1848. There were twenty shops, sixty houses and cottages, a church and parsonage, a school, house of correction, police office and magistrate’s house, customers house, post office – and of course the Stanley Hotel! During the 1850’s the sheltered deep-sea port was thriving and was essential for the farming districts as a service centre.

Stanley, Tasmania

(image courtesy of Phunny Photos)

A certain John Whitbread was found guilty of poaching rabbits in England when he was just a boy (aged fifteen), and was sentenced to seven years in Van Diemen’s Land [now Tasmania].  He arrived in Hobart in 1828.  As a convict, his record was one of good behaviour, and when he later settled in Stanley he became a fine citizen, businessman and host.  He built the hotel and named it the Emily Hotel, now known as the Stanley Hotel. He bought the block on which it stands from the penal colony for 20 pounds and the building was licensed as a hotel around 1847.

Stanley Tasmania

(image courtesy of Steve Daggar)

In the book A Residence in Tasmania, published in 1856, Butler Stoney describes the Emily Hotel as it was in 1853.  He said that on arrival in Stanley ‘a good and comfortable hotel rewards the weary traveller…Mr Whitbread’s establishment is a fine large stone-built house with many good and well-furnished rooms and every attention is paid to his guests’. The Hotel has been continually licensed since 1847 under various names: ‘The Emily’, ‘Freemason’s’, ‘The Union’ and now ‘The Stanley Hotel’.

Stanley Hotel Tasmania

(image courtesy of Rose Frankcombe)

Preserved houses and buildings with beautiful gardens, sea and rural vistas, the deep water harbour with fishing boats coming and going and a good selection of galleries, restaurants and cafes – all give the town a character of its own. You can spend time visiting the historic attractions, go fishing, play a game of golf, walk on beaches, eat great food made with the freshest ingredients or enjoy a chat with locals in the historic pub.

Staney Tasmania Streetscape

(image courtesy of Russell Charters)

Stanley is also famous for the cleanest air in the world (measured at Cape Grim nearby) and the wide-open skies offer wonderful opportunities for stargazing with bright night skies revealing the magic of the constellations and the awe-inspiring Milky Way.

Stanley Tasmania

(image courtesy of Anna Kwa)

On purchasing The Stanley Hotel thirteen years ago, a major refurbishment (inside and out) was undertaken with the clear aim to ensure that the town’s only Hotel was a stand-out accommodation and dining destination. This  vision has been rewarded with numerous awards from the Australian Hotels Association –  Tasmania’s Best Bistro 2007, 2008, and 2009, Australia Best Bistro 2008, Tasmania’s Best Pub Style Accommodation 2008-13 and Tasmania’s best Country Hotel 2008.

Stanley Hotel Tasmania Signs

(image courtesy of Beast #1)

A few years ago, on our travels, we saw a beautifully hand-crafted and painted sign at the entrance of Wrest Point, Hobart, advising of ‘Ducks Crossing’. The impact of the sign was such that it  inspired us to review the signage at the Hotel and Danthonia’s signs were the style and quality that would suit our heritage building.


The designers were very patient with implementing our ideas and were very obliging to our changes and suggestions. The signs have been in place for six years and still look bright, colourful and show no sign of wear and tear.  The signs create interest and tourists regularly take photographs of them.

Stanley Hotel Tasmania Sign

(image courtesy of Naneh)

Stanley Hotel

(image courtesy of Baker)

A Sign for The Union Bar

After blogging about signs for the best part of a year now, it’s high time we featured a project right here in our beautiful town of Inverell. Otho street – one of Inverell’s two main retail strips – is full of grand old federation-style buildings. Not least among these is the Old Union Bank. Since its days as a bank, this building has been reinvented numerous times. It has been a restaurant, a tavern, an empty building to lease and, most recently, a spiffy tapas bar. Local Builder Tim Russell and his wife Ann thought up the idea, remodeled the building, and opened it in its current form some two years ago now. We were honoured to fabricate the large gilded art-deco-style letters on the building’s dark blue facade. Tim tells more about the project:

The building was purposely built in 1911 for the Union Bank of Australia. The Union bank merged with the ANZ bank in around 1960 and they eventually moved to their new location in 1972. The building was then purchased by Pixie Cydesmith who turned into a first class restaurant until 1979. It was then purchased and turned into a hotel called ‘The Tavern’ until 2010 when it closed for business.

Inverell Tavern

Inverell Tavern

We looked at the building in May 2011 as it was for sale and had been since closing. We tossed around ideas of what we could do with the building until we came up with what it has evolved into. The Union bar, cafe/restaurant and bar with a entertainment area at the rear. The upstairs has two, two bed luxury apartments for overnight or long term stays.

It’s been a lot of hard work to get to where we are today, but very worthwhile and satisfying, Business is good.

Union Building

Renovation work at the Union Building

The location of the sign originally had the Union Bank of Australia moulded into the facade, which obviously had been taken off.  We wanted to create a statement and make people think. The sign has certainly achieved this, as it is the focal point and draws your eye day or night. The investment was really worthwhile.

Union Bar Interior

I was born and bred in Inverell and just love the place. It is one of the most vibrant & friendly country towns in New South Wales. The street-scape is picturesque and the shopping precinct has a charm and vitality that is unmatched. I have traveled to most places on the Eastern side of Australia, and you won’t find a better location for everything required to provide a easy comfortable family-orientated lifestyle.

Union Bar Gilded Letters Inverell

Gilded, Prism-Carved Letters

Union Bar Facade

Union Bar Front

A Logo & Sign for Abla’s Patisserie

Ronald Abla

Ronald Abla at work (image courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald)

If you live in Sydney or Melbourne and enjoy Lebanese sweets, you’ve probably heard of Abla’s Patisserie. In 2006, Michael Abla asked us to design a logo for the sweets shop in Merrylands, Western Sydney. The shop is a large one and it needs to be, to fit the long display racks of baklava, chocolates and cakes on offer. As for the logo, Michael wanted it to somehow represent the unique gift packages which are an Abla’s specialty. The mark would also need to lend itself to neon signage.

Pencil Sketch

We explored the concept of ribbons & bow ties in our initial sketches.

Pencil Sketch

Logo Sketch

The pencil sketch that eventually became the final logo design

Although neon is a beautiful art form, our specialty at Danthonia Designs is hand-carved, dimensional signs. After some discussion with Michael over how best to brand the space, we settled on having one of our dimensional signs inside the shop, and two large neon signs on the outside for the benefit of the motorists on the busy Sherwood Road. ‘Neon is part of our culture’ he explained. At the same time, a palladium-leafed handcrafted sign would look very classy atop a shelf of gift-wrapped goodies.

Abla's Patisserie Logo

The final logo

Abla's Dimensional Sign

Abla’s Dimensional Sign

Sign Detail

Now, eight years later, Abla’s is a growing enterprise. Michael has opened two new shops in Melbourne (Preston and South Yarra). Last year two Abla’s chefs, Jack Abd El Nour and Hazim Hazim won first and second place in the Melbourne Baklava Bake-Off. This is no small distinction. In short, it’s proof that the bakery is home to the best baklava in Melbourne.

Abla's Chef Jack Abd El Nour

Abla’s Chef Jack Abd El Nour at the Baklava Bake-Off

Jack & Hazim

Jack & Hazim

The success of Abla’s surely has more to do with the quality of their products than the design of their logo. There is, however, a certain satisfaction in seeing one’s logo design rendered in giant neon letters and emblazoned on packets of delicious sweets, carted around Sydney and Melbourne and enjoyed with a cup of strong black Lebanese coffee.

Abla's Neon Sign

Abla's Patisserie

Abla’s Patisserie in Melbourne (image courtesy of Alpha)

Abla's Cake

A Sign for Glenferrie Lodge

Jean-Claude Branch & Lapu Lapu

Jean-Claude Branch & Lapu Lapu

Since our last chat with Jean Claude Branch, he’s been busy with another guesthouse on the other side of Sydney Harbour. Naturally, we made a sign for this one too! Today, Jean-Claude tells us about his latest venture:

I’ve run Cremorne Point Manor since  2005 and in that time have learned a great deal about the hotel industry. I always keep an eye on my competitors and always knew about Glenferrie Lodge and their amazing statue which you can’t miss. It’s a three-meter high Phillipino warrior with a deer on his shoulders. Last year the opportunity came to buy the hotel and I managed to convince my bank manager to lend me the money. With seventy rooms, Glenferrie is much larger than Cremorne Point. It also serves a full cooked breakfast so it has a much larger staff. It’s been quite a challenge getting used to operating Glenferrie while still keeping up the standard at Cremorne.

Glenferrie Lodge Sign

The lot for Glenferrie was purchased in 1908 by Mr John Brannelly. It had been a part of the Clifton estate which was a large estate in Kirribilli. I’ve attached a lot map and a brochure from the auction. Mr Brannelly then erected a house and named it Glenferrie, which we believe is a Scottish word, although no place in Scotland is named this. Extensions occurred in 1923 when it became a guest house and has been one ever since. The building has essentially remained the same since that time.

Clifton Estate

Glenferrie Lodge, 1910

Glenferrie Lodge, 1910

Glenferrie Lodge

Glenferrie Lodge, 1980

My first vision was to remove the awful plastic sign and put up a Danthonia sign. I actually started working on the design of the sign with Danthonia as soon as I had contracts exchanged and the sign was up the same month as I bought the Lodge. It’s a unique property in that is has seventy rooms but no en-suites (well a couple). Originally I wanted to put en-suites in the property, however it fits in the market as a nice but economical place to stay in a wonderful part of Sydney. It’s literally three doors down from Kirribilli House and Admiralty House where both Tony Abbott reside and where Prince William and Catherine stayed when they were here in Sydney. I did offer to one of the police escorts that Prince William and Catherine could come for breakfast and Prince George could play in our kids playground. For some reason they did not take up my offer!

Kirribilli House

Kirribilli House (image courtesy of Frankeeg)

Kirribilli is a wonderful part of Sydney. It is literally five minutes to the city by either driving or ferry. However it is full of lovely historic homes, beautiful views of the harbour and has a wonderful cafe and restaurant selection that makes staying and living in Kirribilli extremely popular. We have limited (and popular) parking spots so for under a hundred dollars you can stay next door to (future)  Kings, Prime Ministers and have your breakfast cooked for you. That is also one of the key features of Glenferrie. We have a famous cooked breakfast. It’s always included in the price and is what is generally referred to as ‘The Full English’.

As far as I can gather, it was a prior manager who spotted our statue for sale at an auction and decided it would look good in its location. While it is a little strange, it’s extremely memorable, being almost three meters high and it is going to remain there. I have noticed, though, he does tend to attract little additions and I think we will give him decorations for Christmas.

Glenferrie Lodge

Glenferrie has great bones, it’s got a lovely garden and beautiful views. It is extremely popular. However it was a little tired and needed some freshening up. So, while the changes are not drastic, they are many. I’m re-carpeting the whole place. I’ve already painted the facade and within the next few months the furniture will all be changed. Already the beds have been done which is great as it’s the most important part of the hotel. One aspect that people do love about the hotel is that we are pet-friendly. We are one of the very few hotels in Sydney that is, and unlike the others, we don’t ask huge amounts of money to bring one’s pet along with you. All our pet-friendly rooms either have direct access to the garden or private balconies. This is something we are definitely going to keep as it’s a really unique option for Sydney.

Glenferrie Lodge