Shedding Light on a Tiger Door Handle

The Bengal tiger is a striking grand cat whose features and expressions are legendary and whose appearance have landed him the spot of national animal for both India and Bangladesh. Most of us have the black and tan markings of this splendid creature filed away in our memory banks for rapid recall. With this in mind, Martin Pierce tackled the task of creating a tiger handle with cautious enthusiasm. The technical challenge was in deciding where to create perforations in the panel for light to pass through but without compromising the strength of the panel.  The other challenge was how to capture the tigers marking and here Martin used a lot of artistic license.

Tiger Door Panel Design.jpg

As the end product was to be a flat panel with cut out sections the piece had to be designed so that the cut-out areas, when removed, left behind one continuous interlocked shape. In nature the Bengal tigers black markings are separate and unconnected but in Martin’s design the markings all connect. The tiger design was created as a black and white drawing with the black areas representing areas that would be left as steel and the white areas being the cut-out sections where the light source would shine through.

Tiger pattern.jpg

For panel patterns Martin has found aluminum to be an ideal metal as it is strong enough not to warp or distort when cut, yet soft  enough to be cut on a scroll saw. The saw operates very much like a sewing machine with the aluminum pattern being maneuvered and pushed into the path of the vertical blade very much as a garment is pushed toward a vertically moving needle.

In the next few weeks we will show how this new piece evolved to become an illuminated handle.

 

How to Create Oil Rubbed Patinas for Bronze Door Handles

Our bronze door handles are offered in a variety of hot and cold patinas but the most popular c are our light and dark antique patinas. I hope to explain how we create these 2 patinas step by step using our daisy cabinet pull to demonstrate the process.

Daisy-cabinet-pull-bronze.jpg

Over time bronze will develop its unique patina and its surface color can range from brown to black to blue or green as it reacts to the chemical properties in the local atmosphere and as the surface of the bronze begins to oxidize. With our antique finishes we try to emulate the brown and black surface tones to create a controlled aged appearance.  To do so we use a product made by Birchwood Technologies called   M20 Antique Black. Their solution, unlike pigmented stains, does not sit on the surface of the metal but rather through chemical conversion it creates a 3 to 4 micron thick patina.  However, before this process happens the bronze handle must be cleaned.

Surface Preparation

Our castings are first placed in a sealed and pressurized chamber and glass beads made from fine silica are air- sprayed into the chamber to remove  small casting burrs or rough particles.

We then remove even smaller burrs or scratches with a buffing wheel and disks, progressing as needed, from medium grit to fine grit disks. The disks we use are made by Standard Abrasives and made from a tough resin reinforced nylon fiber with aluminum oxide which acts as an abrasive element. Since the nylon web is un-woven it is more flexible and so will follow the contours of the bronze.

To remove fiber particles, dust or other surface impurities we clean the piece with an air pressure hose.

Patina by Conversion Coating

Using M20 we make our own solution using 1 part M20 and 1 part distilled water mixed in a non-reactive dipping vessel.  The piece is immersed for 30 to 60 seconds and then neutralized by immersion into another vessel of distilled water.  If,upon inspection, we see that certain areas have not reacted to the solution and are still bright we re-clean those areas and dip again.

Highlighting

As you can see from the # 3 above the chemical conversion creates a fairly uniform patina which is somewhat drab. To create greater contrast we gently and strategically burnish by hand areas with a fine nylon abrasive pad and thereby re-expose the golden tones of the bronze casting.

Sealing

To seal the bronze we use a soft cloth to apply 2 coats of oil and once dry, finish with hard wax. There are many  products to choose from but we have found Sculpt Nouveau’s  metal oil and black wax easy to work with see useful links below.

 

Usefullinks:

http://www.standardabrasives.com/

http://www.sculptnouveau.com/

https://www.birchwoodtechnologies.com/

Tall Door Grips - How the Design Begins

Lately, in large part at the behest of designers, we have begun to design some very grand scaled door grips for the public areas of hotels and clubs. The size and shape of a door handle does influence the handles design, with long narrow grips dictating a more compact motif and with wider panels allowing for a more expansive forms.

In short, our designs for tall door grips fall broadly into these 2 categories and we have begun by focusing first on the more restrictive long thin pulls which one typically sees on storefront and bank doors and with lengths varying from 40” to 72”. We are using 60” as our optimum design canvas and are creating decorative segments of 18” and 24” that can be repeated or interspersed with other designs or plainer sections so that we have the capability of creating custom lengths for each project.

tall door pull designs.jpg

The segmented and narrow width of our design canvas impacts the freedom, balance and logic of our design. As a starting point Martin began by looking to the utilitarian and geometric shapes of the 1920’s Art Déco period and the influence of these repetitive bold lines can be seen in the sketch below. He also used his own Hedgerow furniture designs to create an angular tree branch motif.   These sketches are at this point concept drawings and we will be refining them over the next few weeks.

tall grip designs.jpg

New Grapevine Door Knob Added to Wine Cellar Door Handle Collection

Our grapevine door handle collection has, until now, focused on capturing the gnarly quality of vine stems and the distinctive serrated shape of their leaves, with less attention on the grapes themselves.  This focus worked well for creating long door grips and horizontal door levers but was not well suited for a door knob.  

grape vine door handle view.jpg

With this in mind, we began work on a new vine door knob and in our July 12th post  shared with you how Martin Pierce created detailed  perspective drawings as guidelines for his 3 dimensional wood pattern. The pattern was carved in basswood, sealed with primer and used to create a 2 piece hollow core mold. Red wax was poured into the mold and several wax replicas were made. The wax facsimiles were then coated with successive layers of fine ceramic slurry to form an outer wall and the pieces  were baked to form a rigid ceramic shell.  Once baked, the ceramic shells were  heated in a de-waxing  autoclave and steam was  pumped into the shell to remove the wax. The wax was then  filtered, cleaned  and  recycled for future use. The de-waxed shell was subsequently invested with molten bronze and after cooling, the gates that delivered the fluid metal were ground away and the bronze casting was ready to “chased” or refined by hand.

Vine door knob.jpg

Seven weeks later and we have now machined our first castings, added the spindle and  internal springs, fitted our existing vine leaf back-plate and finished by hand our first pieces.  We hope you like this new addition to the collection.

 

New LED Door Handles and The Year in Review

As we move on to the post eclipse week we thought we thought it would be fitting to give an updated report on what milestones we have met and what lie ahead.

Following on from the successful listing of our LED lit door handles and wall sconces we have completed our initial UL inspection and so designers may be assured that the our UL approved fixtures will bare an indelible UL label. To help designers understand our LED single color and color changing fixtures we have developed a series of helpful installation diagrams as well as charts that will help explain what accessories will work best with our products to view these please download our pdf for Coral or our Illuminated products.

While the LED lighting scene constantly evolves with smaller brighter and more energy efficient units our focus is on designing and making decorative fixtures that work with this new technology. Our fixtures are hard wired and illuminated either by a small spot or by a strip of LED chips. The type of LED impacts our design, as spots are better suited to our round, down lit sconces and cylinders, while the linear strip inside the perimeter of our door panels project a forward directional light that we use to create our fish and coral shapes. The next piece in development for our panel series is a tiger design which will soon be released. The panel concept is also being extended to include a longer rectangular 26" x 4" panel and the first piece will be from our Willow designs.

Illuminated Door Pulls LED Spot for Dragon Egg Sconce & LED color changing for Panel Handles

Illuminated Door Pulls LED Spot for Dragon Egg Sconce & LED color changing for Panel Handles

LED Entry Door Handles - Door considerations

Our new illuminated door pulls are hard wired and not battery dependent and I was recently asked how this impacts the type of door chosen.

For some time door lock manufacturers have been making electric mortise and deadbolt locks that can be powered by low voltage wires that release either the bolt or the strike and often this is done by a remote controller.

Our illuminated door handles have the same needs and require;

Power to be supplied to the door

One of the easiest methods of supplying power to the door is through an electric door hinge.  Power coming from a low voltage class 2 power supply is delivered to the door jamb into the fixed section of the hinge. The wires then pass through the knuckle or center section of the hinge and on to the operative part of the hinge which is attached to the door itself and which pivots the door open.  Electric hinges have the advantage of concealing the wires used to power door handles and locks and most can be ordered for these low voltage applications.

lit-entry-door-handle-fish

 

A concealed door loop like the one by Command Access is a low profile alternative to the electric hinge and one that can be freely positioned anywhere on the jamb. While its unobtrusive design and size make it attractive you will still need a hinge to open and close the door. If you are looking for an equally discreet electric hinge you may want to consider the hinge options from Simonswerk.com who offer some very sleek concealed hinges that function in the same way as the surface mounted version but are recessed and flush with both the door jamb and door edge. These hinges will require a reasonably solid outer door edge that can be routed out for the hinge plate.

Off course the power can always be supplied  through a surface mounted conduit or metal arm which may be an option for commercial projects or areas where the reverse side of an entry door is less visible.

Hollow area for power channel

Installation-diagram-LED-door-handles.jpg

 To power the LED handle the wires from the handle will have to be routed through the door and connected to the power that is being delivered to the door jamb.  Provided the door has a hollow frame this should be relatively easy as the cables are small 22 gauge wires and can be fed through a channel in the door frame.  The top and bottom door rails for hollow metal doors will often have a separate cover that can be attached after the wire conduit has been fed through.

Impact on Door Design

In summary your door will need to have a hollow outer frame or pre-made channel designed into the construction so that cables can be fed through to the illuminated handle.  The channel can easily be incorporated into the construction design of the door and major door manufactures are already doing this so that the consumer can remotely open and lock the entry door using a remote controller to activate an electrically powered lock.

Ergonomic Hardware Adapted to Individual Needs

While there is a reasonable amount of door hardware that meets the legal requirements of the ADA it is often challenging to find artistic door handles that satisfy both the artistic and physical needs of any one client and their designer.

The Ergo collection derives its name from the adjective “ergonomic” being a design that is optimized for easy use in the workplace and when it was created, Martin Pierce developed a left and right knob and lever design with suitable cut outs and indentations that could be easily gripped by a left handed or right handed person. The style has evolved over time with modifications being made to slim down the lever for more universal comfort.

Though the Ergo series is ergonomic, not all pieces are ADA suitable. As we grow older our physical needs and challenges multiply but not in a homogeneous way so a generic approach to making hardware ADA compliant is no guarantee that the adapted hardware will work for all. Enter a skilled and sensitive designer versatile in specifying custom door hardware like Lambrino Christoff of Barton G Design. With Lambrino’ s input we recently re-designed our Ergo epic cabinet pull by scooping out the back to make a hollow that could easily be gripped using ones index and middle finger. See the image below showing the evolution of this piece, the middle picture shows the custom piece and the top and bottom pictures show the first and most recent cabinet pull in this collection.

 

For other designers we have modified our Ergo cabinet pull making the mounting posts taller thereby creating more space between the cabinet face and underside of the pull that can be gripped by several fingers together.

 

 

Bees - The Perfect Door Knob for Your Children's Bedroom

Following on with our nature theme I wanted to share a photo I took of a small swarm of bee door knobs. The bumble bee door knob is one of 4 members of the netsuke series, a collection that takes its name from the toggles that were used thorough out the centuries as compact buttons or fastener both in clothing and in luggage.

The frogs, lizards, rabbits and bees that make up this collection are often ordered as individual sets for children’s bedrooms but occasionally multiples are ordered to add a whimsical element to a commercial setting, as was the case with this swarm.

bee-door-knobs

The bee that served as a model for this piece is the black bee or carpenter bee that we see here in southern California and that we first came across when travelling in Greece. We were captivated by its intense black shiny wing casings and abdomen and by its passive bumbling behavior. The honey comb back plate is a case for artistic license as this is not a honey creating bee of the social hive variety but a solitary nectar feeding bee that loves the nectar of honey suckle, wisteria, morning glory and other flowering plants. While the bee is able to use its proboscis to suck nectar from flowers with suitable trumpet shapes, if the fit is less than perfect it will cut the flower to access the nectar, or as we have seen in our garden, take full advantage of existing tares made by the voracious feeding activity of humming birds and their deep reaching beaks.

Carpenter bee finds wisteria a good source for nectar

Carpenter bee finds wisteria a good source for nectar

Cast in solid bronze, these pieces are wonderfulto hold and their smooth substantial weight fits nicely in one’s palm.

 

Wasp and Insect Cabinet Pulls

To say that Martin Pierce is fascinated by insects would be an understatement and it explains why insects and their habitat figure so much in his cabinet pulls as well as his paintings, sculpture and furniture. 

This fascination is not shared by all but we have found that many of our gardening neighbors understand the role that these creatures play in helping to keep their gardens free of voracious caterpillars and from the adult flies such white-fly that they become. At the weekend Martin was able to snap a shot of a beautiful mud dauber wasp, named for the way it daubs mud to create individual chambers for each of its lava.  The wasp catches a caterpillar and entombs it in the lava's pod like chamber thus providing a constant food source for the developing lava that when it pupates will emerge as a strikingly colored wasp. The nest chambers are equally impressive and are made of multiple layers of mud built up over a period of days that dry and harden to become robust adobe like homes. Once the caterpillar has been deposited the wasp then lays an egg on it and secures the chamber with more mud.

This architectural skill  is one that is found in other species and we have seen swallows build nests using a similar approach. What makes the dauber wasp awe inspiring is how she creates her chambers to be just the right size and strength to support the larder and her offspring. Where are her blueprints, where is her scaffolding, apparently they are not required.

wasp-on-apple-sculpture

Why our LED Door Handles are Suitable for Restaurants and Hotels

I was recently asked a seemingly simple question but on closer inspection realized that the answer deserved a better account of why our recently launched  illuminated door handles are appropriate for outdoor areas in hotels and restaurants.

Metal of the LED fixture
Not all metals are created equal but the premium metals of 304 and 316 stainless steel as well as silicone bronze all have good corrosion resistance and are not prone to rust when exposed to wet weather. The silicon bronze is typically oil finished so while it will not rust it will develop its own unique patina over time as it is a living finish.

Type of LED’s
Not all LED’s are suited to outdoor use. In our cylindrical pull we use a completely encased LED spot but for our Coral and Fish handles we use an LED strip that is wrapped in a silicone sheath to make it weatherproof.

LED DOOR HANDLE

Diffuser that doubles as a weather protector
Our fixtures all have an open area in the design through which the light passes but to diffuse the light and to eliminate any shadow created by the LED we add an acrylic diffuser that sits behind the face of the luminaire thereby creating a weather and insect barrier.

Weep hole
All of our luminaires come with a "weep" hole to allow the escape of water if it manages to get into the fixture.

Wiring
The wires that power our fixture pass through a concealed channel inside the door frame and then through an enclosed mounting bracket into the fixture and at the other end they pass through an electric hinge that is connected to the door jam and door channel ensuring thereby that the wires are not exposed to weather.

 

 

 

Process of making A New Grapevine Door Knob

The grapevine door knob continues to evolve.

It started out as a pencil sketch and then was “fleshed out” in a series of perspective drawings so that its scale and appearance could be assessed. Once all the angles were mapped out Martin began carving the pattern in basswood, which as any wood carver knows is an  easy to carve dense soft wood, perfect for carving fine detail and perfect for pattern making as it is a somewhat bland wood with almost no grain or color. The only real drawback to basswood comes from its lack of color which makes imperfections difficult to spot, so Martin sprays his patterns with grey primer thereby rendering them visible.

grapevine-pattern

 

Once perfected, two rubber molds are created, one for the body of the door knob and one for the stem of the knob. Each mold is made in 2 halves that can be pulled apart after the wax has been poured into the cavity of the mold. The 2 halves of the mold are keyed to each other by creating a male and female rubber junction, that way the mold will continue to align properly over a long period of use.

rubber mold

The mold is then used to create a wax facsimile of the pattern. There are a large number of waxes to choose from and their pouring temperature, cooling time, density and pliancy are all factors that play a role in deciding which will work best for a given piece. The red wax shown here is a softer more pliant wax that has a low meting temperature and works well for gravity pouring but is less suited to molds where the wax is to be injected.

Red wax facsimile of wood pattern

Red wax facsimile of wood pattern

The next stage will be to shell the wax and eventually we will invest the shell with molten bronze, so stay tuned for the next installment.

HAPPY 4th JULY TO ALL

From all of us here may you have a happy and safe July 4th.

Bird door handle

 

The image used here may not be the iconic American bald eagle but the Blue Jay still ranks as a revered and loved bird amongst  Americans and non-Americans alike.

The sculpture is both a decorative wall piece and a functioning door pull depending on your taste and needs . It is cast in solid silicon bronze and is part of Martin Pierce’s limited edition of  art works that include several insect and fantasy pieces.  The Blue Jay measures 17”W x 12”D x 4”H.

Leaf Designs in Door Hardware

The creative process is as unique and unfathomable as the brain it resides in. When I have listened to authors and composers answering the question of where and how they get their inspiration there appears to be a myriad of sources.  The same holds true when it comes to designing door hardware  and  Martin Pierce’s designs reflect the eclectic nature of his source material ranging from oceanic shapes to tree bark and bird wings to name just a few.

As a result,  Martin always has a sketch book on hand to doodle in his designs as they occur to him but a large number of his designs also come  from a more structured and practical need either to  develop additional pieces for a popular collection or to meet a designer’s need for a specific project.

leaf-flush-door-pull

 Not all of the designs make it off the drawing board and indeed I would hazard a guess that less than 10% make the leap.  When designing a new piece there can be as many as 4 or more alternatives that materialize on paper and if the project is commissioned by a designer then alternative concepts can be useful in hammering out practical site issues or scale questions.

We keep all of these sketches as source material for future designs and this is how I came across some of the leaf designs shown here. The Willow door pull came from a need to create a flush pull and resulted in 3 designs one of which is currently in used in Willow collection.

The leaf hinge design is still in the design stage where it will remain until we have sufficient hinge designs to complement our other collections.

The Vine collection is a popular series and the new leaf and grape design shown here is already taking shape as a sculpted wooden pattern.

Grape door knob concept.jpg

Creating Custom Door Hardware Using The Lost Wax Method of Casting

Limited Edition Custom Handle Commission in Bronze

Limited Edition Custom Handle Commission in Bronze

We are frequently asked to make one of a kind door handles for designers looking for a statement piece for a restaurant or retail project or corporations looking to expand their brand presence. The requests we receive can be challenging and some, such as a request for rotating human hand, border on the bizarre.

As a company we do a lot of custom casting but  the process we use to create our work is costly and does not lend itself to value engineering. The focus of this article is to outline the process with the aid of photographs taken during the  creation of a wine cellar door handle, commissioned by a client as a limited edition.

As designers we truly respect the creative process and understand the time that goes into creating a unique piece and accordingly will only work on projects that are free from plagiarism.

The Process – step by step

1.        Concept drawing(s) often several form the starting point to a dialogue where we establish the size of the handle, whether it needs to operate a latch or is to be used as a stationary grip.

2.        Perspective drawings are detailed drawings that show the client how the piece will look when viewed from different vantage points. We need to understand if the piece is being viewed from all sides as it would be if used as a grip mounted on a glass door. How the piece is to be mounted either by through bolts or surface screws will need to be decided and drawn.

Pattern Development

A three dimensional pattern is created in wood or if the piece is small, typically less than 3”, then in solid wax. At this point 3D printing is slow and  expensive but it can be useful if one is creating a mirror image of a simple shape especially when the shape is symmetrical. We used 3D printing when creating the simple gourd shape for our Dragon Egg Sconce.

For larger detailed and organic pieces Martin Pierce carves the pattern by hand. He uses a reductive approach to whittle down his over-sized block of wood to create the pattern. Other pattern makers use an additive approach and they create the pattern by adding and forming pieces of clay. In our case study the design required 4 patterns to be carved, a left and right facing waiter and their two goblets. The patterns took many hours to create but by carving the pieces with an array of different chisels Martin could create a very detailed fine pattern and one whose details could be captured in bronze.

pattern-later-stage

Mold Making

Each pattern requires a mold and if the piece has a lot of undercuts it may require a 2 piece mold. In this instance we developed a total of 4  two -piece molds each one made to encapsulate one of the 4 patterns. The molds are made from building up successive layers of silicone rubber that pick up the fine detail of the pattern. The pliable nature of the rubber is then reinforced by an outer casing made of plaster or metal which holds the 2 parts of the mold in place so that they can withstand the pressure applied when molten wax is injected into the cavity. The cavity is created when the pattern is removed from the mold and to make this easier the pattern is coated with a release agent before the rubber is applied.

Casting – what is meant by lost wax?

For every piece we cast in bronze, we first make a wax replica by pouring molten wax into the cavity of the mold. Theoretically these replicas could be 3 D printed but at this point the process is slow and expensive. Depending on the size and cooling time it is possible to make multiple waxes in a short period of time. At this point the channels that will be needed to supply the molten metal and those that are needed to vent the air created by flowing metal are added in the form of sprues and gates.

blue-wax-men.jpg

The wax replicas are then “shelled” and dipped into successive coats of liquid silica to build up a thick outer shell. If the shell wall is not sufficiently thick then it may well fail when the bronze is eventually poured. For large castings the shelling process can take weeks but it is a critical step that determines the success of the casing.

After the wax has been shelled the wax will be removed in an autoclave steamer that essentially steams or heats up the solid shell so that the wax is evacuated or “lost”.

 The hollow shell or ceramic case is then fired and is ready to receive the molten bronze. Once the casting has cooled all the sprues and gates will be ground off and the casting will be groomed with metal files to remove any casting imperfections.

Chasing and machining the casting

Chasing and machining the casting

The casting will then be machined for mounting bolts, latches or other locks  that it will be used with.    

The casting is then ready to be finished. In our case study we applied 3 different types of chemical patina and re-burnished key areas so we could delineate the writing on the goblet and the waistcoat buttons on the waiter’s jackets.

Shedding Light On Cabinet Pulls

As we have noted before the advent of LED lights and the small gauge of wires needed to support their low voltage requirements is widening the number and types of locations where we can make use of the light and  the colors they create. As a designer and maker  of door handles our focus is squarely on the artistry of the design and the functional nature of the piece and so color, has until now, only been possible  through the use of hot patina treatments or powder coating. We are now introducing LED spot lights into our Morphic series and have recently released our  color enhanced illuminated door handles that can be used on any new door designed with a channel for the low gauge wiring or any door where power can be supplied by a power transfer unit.

However, to continue the Morphic series we have now designed a series of illuminated cabinet pulls that can house intense high density light strips that will create accent lighting in bars, kitchens, restaurants or any location needing cabinet pulls where space is limited. The  strips we are using in this application are very small and are made up of 3528SMD LED’s that have a  HIGH CRI 90+ rating.  The number 3528 refers to the size of the chip being 3.5mm by 2.8mm and the HIGH CRI rating means the light  they deliver gives a more accurate reading of  surrounding colors and as such are better designed to enhance vibrant colors in a setting. These intense strips are dimmable and they follow the guidelines of California Title 24 Part 6, Building Energy Efficiency Standards. Their size and  type makes them  ideal for single color applications and we will be introducing these in  either warm or natural white.

We are currently shooting a video to highlight these new pulls and hope to be releasing this very soon.

illuminated-cabinet-pull

Large Exterior Door Pulls

With the continued surge in construction we are seeing more demand for large exterior door pulls and ladder pulls both in the commercial and residential sectors. In the early 2000 period our large “Heroic” door handles topped out at a mere 19” for our Hedgerow and Ergo handles but by 2012 we responded to demand and revised our Ergo series to include an epic 35” tall handle. Clearly though the demand continues for even more gargantuan pieces and so we are about to launch our newest “Grand” Ergo door handle which will be 54” high with a 1 ½” diameter.

Making larger scale handles is both stylistically and technically challenging. The iconic Ergo shape began as a mere 12” cabinet door pull that was subsequently rescaled to a 35” handle. The stylistic challenge was how to keep the fluid contours of such a small piece yet make it substantial enough to work as a large exterior door pull but not so substantial that the diameter would be difficult to grip by those with disabilities.

While our soon to be launched Grand Ergo handle posed the same stylistic challenges, it also has presented us with technical casting demands. At a height of 54” and with such a curvaceous shape we decided to cast the handle in two 27” sections.  Had we tried to make a single mold the weight of it would have made it unwieldy and we would run the risk of the steel  prematurely cooling before it reached the end of the mold. To make the handle a continuous 54” length our craftsmen will then seamlessly weld the 2 sections to create on long exterior pull.

large-exterior-door-pulls

 

However, our move into this grand scale market is by no means over and we are currently working on designs for 2 projects at 6’ and 9’ so stay tuned.

Arts and Crafts Movement Inspiration for Door Hardware

One of our earliest introductions to the American arts and crafts movement came when we discovered the Gamble House in Pasadena. This gem is a perfect example of the craftsmanship and artistry that is the name sake of this organic architectural style. When we arrived in Los Angeles we started out as a small furniture company that specialized in hand carved pieces so it is not surprising  that we were awestruck by the design brilliance of the Green and Green brothers who were commissioned by the Gambles to design their home.  The Gamble house offers a wonderful insight into households living in a less technological world and one where construction techniques were integral to whole aesthetic of the house. When constructing the walnut stair hand rail and cabinets the carpenters used peg joints rather than mortise joints which gave the joint strength but also added a decorative contrast. The carpenter would hand drill a round hole into the walnut and then using a square walnut  peg  he would hammer this into the hole to create a strong and contrasting joint.

While we had a fleeting introduction to the Arts and Crafts style in England this had been limited to viewing exhibitions of William Morris’s textile and wallpaper designs where entwining acanthus leaves and brambles were common subjects. Together these movements have channeled some of our cabinet pulls as can be seen in our Hedgerow drawer knobs. The patterns for these pieces were carved in wax by Martin Pierce and after molds had been formed these designs were rendered in bronze using the lost wax method of casting.

One of our earliest introductions to the American arts and crafts movement came when we discovered the Gamble House in Pasadena. This gem is a perfect example of the craftsmanship and artistry that is the name sake of this organic architectural style. When we arrived in Los Angeles we started out as a small furniture company that specialized in hand carved pieces so it is not surprising  that we were awestruck by the design brilliance of the Green and Green brothers who were commissioned by the Gambles to design their home.  The Gamble house offers a wonderful insight into households living in a less technological world and one where construction techniques were integral to whole aesthetic of the house. When constructing the walnut stair hand rail and cabinets the carpenters used peg joints rather than mortise joints which gave the joint strength but also added a decorative contrast. The carpenter would hand drill a round hole into the walnut and then using a square walnut  peg  he would hammer this into the hole to create a strong and contrasting joint.

tree-cabinet-knobs

While we had a fleeting introduction to the Arts and Crafts style in England this had been limited to viewing exhibitions of William Morris’s textile and wallpaper designs where entwining acanthus leaves and brambles were common subjects. Together these movements have channeled some of our cabinet pulls as can be seen in our Hedgerow drawer knobs. The patterns for these pieces were carved in wax by Martin Pierce and after molds had been formed these designs were rendered in bronze using the lost wax method of casting.

Paso Robles A Destination Place for Wine Enthusiasts

As spring drifts to summer so we drifted north 350 miles to the still green countryside of Paso Robles.  We have been re-charging our culinary and artistic batteries in this delightful countryside for 15 years and have seen it change from an agricultural community to an  acclaimed wine making hub.

While some may debate the merits of such intense viticulture and the orderly tidiness that now characterizes much of the scenery, few would contest that the region is home to some of the best wineries in the state.

As the wineries have grown so has the breadth of wines now grown with the historical Zinfandel now co-existing with Syrah’s, Grenaches and Tempranillo varietals. As a white wine imbiber who shuns chardonnays I have been thrilled to see that Sauvignon Blanc and Viogniers  are gaining audience awareness and acceptance even amongst those who are fond of their oaky siblings.

However what I had not realized until this visit was how the wineries have now sought to attract customer by serving gourmet meals often locally sourced. The case in point was to be found on Vineyard (aptly named road in the Adelaida district) when we stumbled upon Opolo Winery in search of lunch and for a very modest sum feasted on roast lamb tacos served with tomatillo and red salsa and corn tortillas. The roasted meats all paired wonderfully and surprisingly with their Albarino white wine which was full bodied with slightly sweet citrus tones. The view from the wineries hilltop marquis was also stunning and the breeze it offered was a welcome relief for what proved to be one of the hottest Sundays this year.

wine-cellar-soor-handles

 

If you are planning a trip to Paso Robles you may  help navigating your way through the200 wineries it now boasts but  help is on hand courtesy of www.pasorobleswineries.net where you can download a complimentary map.

Classical Door Hardware Now Trending

Lately we have been focusing on LED technology which has made it possible to introduce color changing lights into our new panel and cylindrical door handles.

With all the hype afforded LED luminaires it is easy to lose sight of the importance of classical door hardware. Lately more designers have been specifying our Willow and Grapevine styles of door hardware which are more classical in style and which take on a distinctive traditional elegance when cast in solid bronze.

classical-door-hardware

This recent trend prompted a Google search into the meaning of “classical” and I found the results enlightening. The word comes from the Latin “classicus” as in class or group and has over time become synonymous with words that include; pure, restrained, harmonious, elegant and balanced.

In England the word classical is also used to suggest rank or superiority and can be used to mean that something is “outstanding of its kind” or “exemplary” as in the phrase a “classical piece of Wedgwood China” or “a classical Victorian romance novel”

The more I searched the more I discovered the breadth of this word which can be used to indicate a significant period of an area of study, such as in classical mechanics or as in the case of classical physics, to denote theories that preceded Newton’s theories of relativity and quantum mechanics.

While I had an intuitive understanding of this adjective, the Google search has brought me full circle and made me hopeful that in the future this adjective may be used by some to describe our new LED luminaires.

The Opposite of hardware - Fluffy Fledglings

Following on from our last post where I  wrote about the abundance of insect life in Los Angeles I wanted to share some home shots of the bird life we are now seeing. Martin took these pictures over the weekend through our kitchen window and thought you may  like to see this young brood of bush tits. Yes, I know the name makes one giggle but the birds themselves also  make me smile and so I encourage you to print them out  as we have and stick them on a nearby wall as mood enhancer.

bushtit-fledglings

This family of 4 bush tits and mum are nesting in a nearby tree that offers more dense foliage cover  but perch in our  guava tree to feed off the aphids and small flies that are drawn by the sweet guava  flowers and leaves.  They share this prime spot with humming birds that roost in the tree and feed from the stamens of the guava flowers and with the occasional unwelcome squirrel that enjoys the flowers in their entirety. While the squirrels do pose a threat to mother’s incubating eggs they do not pose a threat to the fledglings.

The fledglings are very small being about1.75” from head to claw and 3” from head to tail and when mature will travel along with other family members flitting from tree to tree in flocks of 15+. The bush tits are garden friendly and do a great job of removing aphids from tree leaves.

While Martin is often able to draw inspiration from nature in his handle designs and has used the scrub jay birds as natural models for his bird handles he has no immediate plans to develop bush tit handles but is happy that their chirpy good looks are now positioned as colorful prints over his Wacom tablet.