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Local Artist Recreates a Piece of The Little Traveler’s History

December 1, 2016

Pictured left to right: Nancy Mlynski, artist and proprietor of The Velvet Butterfly in St. Charles, IL, and Michael Simon, owner of The Little Traveler in Geneva, IL.

The vintage Little Traveler sign on 3rd Street has become a landmark of sorts in downtown Geneva, IL. The original was painted by artist William Moulis, world traveler and protégée of Mrs. Kate Raftery, founder of the store.

Because the piece was hand-painted, the stalwart sign eventually succumbed to the wear and tear of the elements. It was beautifully reproduced about twenty years ago by artist Brian Hazelton, who has since passed away.

This time when the sign was in need of rehabbing, store owner Mike Simon put off commissioning a new re-creation because, he says, “The sign is a special piece of the store’s history. We wanted to make sure we found the right artist, one who’d respect Moulis’s distinct artistic style the way Brian Hazelton did.”

It’s not easy these days to find someone who still hand-paints signs. When Joe Greenberg, The Little Traveler’s director of operations, read an article by Dave Heun in The Daily Herald featuring local artist Nancy Mlynski, he knew he’d found the right person for the job.

“I’ve been hand-painting signs for over thirty years,” Mlynski says. “I’ve always been interested in art, even as a child. When I was in my twenties, I started my own business painting lettering and artwork on trucks, vans, and signs.”

She’s skilled at lettering as well as incorporating artistic elements in a variety of styles, from traditional to rustic to modern. She says, “My favorite style is vintage, with cottage flowers, etcetera.”

Vintage…cottage flowers—does that sound like any signs you know? You can now see her beautiful recreation of The Little Traveler’s sign hanging in place in front of the store at 404 S. 3rd Street in Geneva.

See more of Nancy Mlynski’s artwork at her store, The Velvet Butterfly at 404 S. 2nd Street in St. Charles, IL. (In another act of kismet—note the similarity in addresses!)  At her store, you’ll find paintings as well as hand-painted furniture, home accessories, and jewelry. You can also commission Nancy for a hand-painted sign of your own.

The Little Traveler has commissioned her to help with the renovation of one of the ladies’ rooms adorned with original artwork by William Moulis. You can find examples of his work throughout the store, including on a door in the Tea Room at the front of the store (pictured below, left) and on the ceiling in the Linen Room (pictured below, right).

moulis-yellow moulis-ceiling


Little Traveler
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