Labor Day - Drought Tolerant Labor of love

The drought tolerant garden and front curb are almost complete needing only the final but vital drip systems to be installed. The drip system will deliver water to the location of each plant set on a timer for 10 minutes twice weekly to begin with and then hopefully on a weekly plan.

Garden 3.jpg


Stages recapped;

Soil and root removal.

We removed about 2” of top soil and dug up as many roots from the old grass as we could, this was laborious hard work but meant that no weed killer or other toxin was used in the process.The remaining soil was then compacted manually with a tamper.

Planning areas, laying weed barrier, adding top layers

The garden was mapped out with stakes separating areas that would be pathways and seating from areas devoted to plants. A shallow 2” trench was dug along the perimeter separating these areas and a flexible  4” barrier was laid down and secured with plastic stakes. The entire area was then covered with a black cloth weed barrier. For the pathways and seating areas we then added 2” of sand colored decomposed granite which was applied in successive layers, each layer being compacted using both a mechanical vibrating plate compactor and a tamper in more confined spaces. For the pathway and seating area and before adding the d.g. we placed random shaped 2” thick stone. As the d.g. was stabilized each compacted layer was sprayed with water to activate the stabilizing bonding agent.

Garden 2.jpg

Where we were adding plants, we cut through the weed barrier and dug out a hole for each plant before filling with a combination of sand and enriched planting soil. The front curb was then finished with another layer of d.g. again compacted and activated with water.

We used loose sand around each of the plants in the front garden and finished this with pea gravel. We have reconsidered this plan as we are concerned that the pea gravel may retain too much heat to the detriment of the society garlic. As a remedy we will be pushing the gravel away from the garlic to create a berm to keep the garlic surrounded by cooler sand.

Making a drought tolerant garden part 2

We have now removed 2” of top soil from the curb and in a fit of eagerness decided to rip out the sad dying grass in the front garden. The soil was removed to take out the tenacious grass roots as well as create space for the new sandy soil that is better suited to agave plants that require good drainage.

 If you live in Los Angeles you can dispose of your unwanted soil at one of the city’s landfill facilities you will be charged by the ton and will have to haul it yourself.

Front garden.jpg


The next step will be to compact the remaining soil so that a weed barrier can be laid flat on top to act as a taut surface for the decomposed granite (d.g.) The soil could be compacted manually with a tamper but as we are also compacting 2” of loose d.g. we will be renting a flat- bed compactor from our local Home Depot.

The front garden has been designed so that there will be 2 types of terrain, one for walking and one that will be decorative with drought tolerant plants and pea gravel. We have chosen a gold d.g. that is very fine for the walkways and a natural mixed pea gravel for the planted areas. The supplier of both materials,  All Valley Sand and Gravel has a useful site calculator that helped me gauge how much of each to buy and thankfully as we need a few tons of each they also will deliver to the Los Angeles area.


With the help of Alex at All Valley Sand and Gravel we were able to see samples of pea gravel, d.g. and crushed 1” natural rocks and elected to use the pea gravel as it will bed down more easily and will be less problematic underfoot.


Creating custom cabinet pulls and knobs

We have recently been commissioned by a home owner and a designer to create custom cabinet knobs and pulls for their respective bedroom and kitchen. The designer approached us with the task of creating 3 styles and sizes of cabinet knob to replace and supplement the ones in the home owners period property. In this case the existing original pieces were in excellent condition and could be used as patterns for a sectional mold that was constructed in silicone rubber.

The second commission was to create a completely new cabinet pull that would use the client’s distinctive family cattle brand as a model for the cabinet doors and drawers. The client did not have a physical piece that could directly be used to form a mold, but he did have a pdf file of the family font and from this we were able to create a 3D CAD model.

CAD File Created Using Client’s Font File

SMALL JJ_Iso View.jpg

Both projects will be poured in stainless steel using the lost wax method rather than using 3D Stereolithographic printing. As the molds for both projects are relatively simple one-part molds the upfront costs for design adaptation and mold creation were relatively low and added little to the per unit cost of the pulls. The number of units ordered was also modest ranging from 50 to 75 pieces, but it will be was enough to cover the cost of pouring a smaller crucible of steel.

First Waxes Created from New Mold Ready to be Shelled

Dbl crop.jpg
JJ wax 2.jpg


Planning a drought tolerant sidewalk

 I am planning a small drought tolerant garden for the area in front of my sidewalk and will be documenting my progress here.

The area is 3’ wide by 50’ long and has scattering of grass that is minimally watered by sprinklers.


I plan to replace the grass with 2 borders of drought tolerant society garlic and a center section of dramatic agave plants.

There is a plethora of information and imagery on line devoted to the subject of drought resistant plants so choosing the color and species was not daunting. Once my choices had been narrowed down I turned to a local grower, Shelly Jennings of Worldwide Exotic Plants to find suitable sized plants. My goal was to find a medium sized agave that would serve as a focal point without becoming too unruly. Shelly’s nursery is large both in size and in the amazing variety of agave, aloe, grasses and shrubs making it a great one stop shop for my project.


I chose a total of 12 Agave Univatata Aurea for the central section and will be adding 50 white and blue flowering garlic later for the borders. The agave will be space about 4’ apart and the garlic will be spaced at similar intervals but off center to the agave. The agave will produce smaller “baby” plants some of which I will keep for future use and the garlic will create bulb offspring which I will leave to  fill out the border.

Ground preparation:

Since I do not want to use any chemicals to kill the existing grass we will dig down to a 6” depth and remove both the soil and fine grass roots. Agaves need soil that drains well so the replacement soil will be a combination of sand mixed with potting mix.

Once the top soil is in place I will then have to decide whether to lay a series of drip lines or to water by hand. The existing water pipe is old and ugly but running a new line will be costly and logistically challenging as it would need to run under the sidewalk.

Once established both the agave and garlic plants will not require much water but when first planted the garlic will need to be watered 3 to 4 times a week. For this reason, I am planning on adding the garlic in the fall when hopefully we have less brutal heat.

To help retain moisture and to curtail weeds the top soil will be held in place by gravel. I have chosen Golden Coast gravel as the golden red tones will provide a nice contrast to the green, blue, purple and white plant colors. The gravel is not difficult to find and as I have a truck I was able to pick this up at a reasonable price from Prime Building Materials located in Sylmar.






Kitchen Design Inspired By Trees

When we decided to remodel our 1926 kitchen we were able to tap into our experience as furniture and cabinet makers which gave us access to local lumber yards, wood finishers and wood duplicating machines. As a wood carver Martin was able to create two unique tree patterns that were then reproduced by a wood duplicator to create multiple tree feet for the cabinetry.

scenice tree.jpg

A wood duplicator is a machine that works rather like a pantograph. Duplicators vary in terms of the number and size of multiples they can reproduce with the output ranging from 8 to 24 units. A series of routers are connected to act in unison so that multiple blocks of woods can be cut all at once and uniformly. The wood pattern that Martin carved was used as a master template and guide to be followed by the interconnected routers with each station creating one copy. Two patterns were made one for the center cabinet feet and a second right angle design for the corner legs.


The choice of hardware was key to the overall kitchen design and the tree motif is what ties the cabinets to the pulls and knobs.


The Hedgerow cabinet pull collection has a large left and right large facing tree that worked well for upper cabinets and for the glass door to the butler’s pantry. For the lower drawers the Hedgerow branch pull worked well and the small round cabinet knob was useful for the  bi-folding  cabinet doors as well as the smaller upper doors. 


As the original red oak floor was  in excellent condition we chose the same species for the cabinetry and finished the hardware with a simple oil rubbed finish.

Unique Turn Pieces

A turn piece as its name hints is a piece that is used to turn or activate a deadbolt thereby locking or unlocking a door. While the turn piece performs a modest task, there is no reason why the design needs to be plain and attention to this small detail can be the defining touch to an entry door.

When we design a style of door hardware we create a specific decorative turn piece as one element in the collection and often employ a sense of whimsy in the design. However, as the turn piece plays a critical role in opening and locking the door, artistic restraint needs to be used so that the piece can be gripped and turned easily.

The decorative component must also fit within the cap of the turn piece so that the spindle can freely turn to release or throw the deadbolt.

At present we have 6 different turn pieces which were designed for different styles, but which can be used interchangeably as they all use the same spindle.


The turn piece is a stylized miniature tree top canopy like the tree tops used on the Hedgerow lever.


The turn piece is a tight cluster of interwoven willow leaves and picks up the theme from the rose that it is mounted on.


While the texture of bark is used in the lizard collection for the larger escutcheon plates the small “Y” shaped turn piece lent itself to a leafier stippled appearance.


The bee’s turn piece is a closed wing beetle a piece that also naturally compliments the frog and lizard entry sets.


The turn piece is twist of metal designed to be easily fit the thumb and index finger.


Tightly entwined willow leaves create a small oval turn piece that compliments the willow rose.



How a Door's Stile Can Influence Your Style of Door Hardware

Yes the pun is intended this is not a typographical error. For doors that have a raised panel or glass panel, the flat unencumbered surface has a direct impact on the size and style of the door handle back-plate or escutcheon. The stile will also impact the back-set of the latch that is being used with the door handle whether it be a passageway or privacy latch.

What to measure?

You will need to measure both the outside width of your back-plate and the net width of your door stile, meaning, the flat area that is free of any molding or beading. You will also need to consider the door stop which is typically part of the door jam and which will overlap the door stile when the door is closed.

When measuring a decorative or asymmetric back plate or one that is uneven we suggest taking the measurement from the reverse flat side.

Where to position the escutcheon on the door stile?

To center or not to center the decorative trim will determined by factors discussed above and by the differing back-sets offered for tubular versus mortise latches. The back-set is the distance measured from the edge of the door to the center point of the lock and these are available at  2”, 2 3/8",2 ¾”, 3”, 4” for tubular latches and at 2 ½”, 2 ¾” for mortise latches. Narrower 1 ¾” and deeper 3”-5” back-sets can be found but usually are custom made.

Working examples

Interior Door with a 4 1/2” stile and with a 3/8” door stop using a back plate that is 3” wide. The center point of our door is 2 ¼” and center of our escutcheon is 1 ½ and the nearest back-set for a tubular latch which would position the trim at just over center point is a 2 3/8" back-set. The trim would be almost centered (1/8" off center) but  it would yield a  1/2" clearance from the edge of the plate to the door stop. If we used a deeper 2 3/4" back-set latch then our trim would be off center by 1/2" and a narrow 2" back-set would bring the trim too close to the stop with a mere 1/8" clearance.

 Patio Door with 5” door stile and 3/8" door stop and 3” back plate would have corresponding center points of 2 1/2” and 1 ½” so would work with tubular latch back set of 2 3/4” or a mortise latch of 2 3/4”. In the image below you can see how this would look with our lizard door lever set.

Lizard lever and knob on door stile.jpg

Levers ,Knobs and Handing

While the door stile will largely determine the maximum width of your  back-plate and how it will be centered on the door, the handing of the door and whether you use a door knob or lever should also be considered. Door levers pivot away from the edge of the door and can be operated with less hand engagement than knobs which tend to be enveloped by the hand making knobs more problematic for door jams that have wide door stops.




3D Printing as useful tool in casting custom door handles

 Casting a custom door handle requires an understanding of the shrinkage that occurs in traditional lost wax casting. When casting in bronze or steel the process starts with a pattern often sculpted by hand in wood or clay but with the advent of 3D printing we are now in some cases able to produce this as a Quick Cast  stereolithographic print (SLA). While these 3D prints are useful in developing prototypes they still need to be finished by hand and are often too expensive to be used as wax substitutes since they too are burnt out and wasted in the lost wax process.

3D prints have their place as prototypes and for custom short run projects where the cost of developing a mold or tooling cannot be amortized over a large enough quantity to make the project cost effective.

Recently we considered 3D printing as a protype tool in helping to create a left and right pattern for a short run project of 4 sets of door handles. When developing a new handle set we often break the design down into component parts and where there is a directional detail this means we must make 2 patterns one for left and one for the right facing section. 3D scanning and modeling allows us to use one carved pattern to create a second mirror image model that is printed in a resin compound. While this reduces the development cost, the digital print often needs to be re-carved so that very fine details like leaf veins and scales can be sharpened by hand.

The picture below of the Hedgerow door lever shows that the branches of this piece are very directional thus requiring a left and right mold, but the canopy is generic to both levers.

Hedgerow lever left right.jpg


One advantage that SLA’s have over wax patterns is that they are not subject to shrinkage. In lost wax casting shrinkage occurs when the molten wax solidifies and when the bronze or steel casting is poured. There are a wide variety of waxes used in this process and their composition effects how they pour, how they solidify and how much they shrink. While a wax pattern may shrink by approximately .6% no shrinkage occurs with the print.


Trying to mathematically predict the exact amount by which the wax pattern and subsequent casting will shrink is difficult when developing a new piece. If the dimension of the piece is critical then we will often create a mold and wax of a smaller section so that we can exactly determine the overall shrinkage and can then re-scale the complete piece making it and the subsequent mold large enough to compensate for this shrinkage.

Art Nouveau and Victor Horta a design inspiration continues

We have just returned from Brussels, home of the renowned Art Nouveau master, Victor Horta and showcase to many of his works. While many of Horta’s prized works are privately owned and not always available for public viewing, Horta’s personal residence and studio are now open to the public as a museum. Located at 25, rue Américaine the museum spans 2 buildings and by walking up the curvaceous fluid carved stairwell from the lower kitchen to family rooms to bedrooms one experiences an intimate view of life in the Horta household. The central staircase is carved in mahogany and the newel post and handrail which begin as separate carvings come together in a dramatic and organic sweep to form one single functional work of art. Alas, the policy of the museum did not permit photography and while the official guide book does contain pictures they do not do justice either to the brilliance of the design or to the outstanding craftsmanship.

Horta House sm.jpg


The museum allows one to experience the completeness  of Horta’s style from hand painted tree friezes, to  whiplash brass hinges, to flower petalled stained glass, all are designed to become a  holistic expression of nature as seen through Horta’s eyes.

As an architect Horta’s studio provided the training ground for others, notably Gustave Strauven who worked as his apprentice before designing maison Saint-Cyr. When we first saw the extravagant façade of this building we mistakenly though it had been designed by Horta but on closer inspection it was clear that the metal filigree lacked the restraint and arguably sense of balance that marks Horta’s work (compare the left  and center images at top of page).

Bronze Door Set by Horta note the discreet keyed cylinder

Bronze Door Set by Horta note the discreet keyed cylinder

We began our appreciation of Horta many years ago when Martin was commissioned as an artisan to fabricate mahogany archways for basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar but it has been a remarkable experience to see Horta’s work up close.


Art Nouveau a lasting inspiration

We have written about our love of Art Nouveau and are now taking a trip to Brussels in homage of Victor Horta, one of the pioneers and master of this organic and fluid style of architecture. We left England in the 80’s with an appreciation of the French masters in this field but did not become familiar with the Brussels legend until meeting Kareem Abdul- Jabbar also a legend and an Art Nouveau enthusiast. Martin was hired to fabricate the entry door, interior doors and stair rails for his Bel Air residence. When we arrive in Brussels and see Horta’s work in person we will share this experience in a later post. Meanwhile I want to focus on this local residence where the styles of Horta, Guimar and Mucha came together to create a splendid home.



The front door was carved from Honduras mahogany as a collection of over-sized irises in a style reminiscent of Alphonse Mucha’s colorful posters. The interior of the front door borrowed its direction from Guimard but for the main archways and interior doors the whiplash center of the casement molding and tweezed hair design of the corners are much truer to Horta’s work.



Horta’s aesthetic can also be seen in the large interior doors especially where wood meets glass and the birds eye maple panel is bisected by a central astragal carved as a budding tendril.

Kareem 3.jpg


The stair rail was made in sections of solid bronze using a cow parsley pattern carved by Martin and based on the floral works of Mucha.

Kareem 1.jpg



Drought tolerant plants

Last year in the peak of the Los Angeles drought  we ripped out our sparse lawn and created a drought resistant garden which has flourished while our water bill has declined.

We planted a variety of vines, agave and ornamental grasses to create a colorful easy to manage and easy to navigate garden.

                                                   From flowers to bronze

                                                   From flowers to bronze



We used pink and coral bougainvillea  and red trumpet vines  for our perimeter fence and have been pleased with their rampant growth but would caution against their use in more restricted areas as they may prove  too invasive.The trumpet vine is a shape we have adapted to work as an unusual cabinet pull and one we typically cast in bronze and finish with oil. However, for those looking for a more realistic trumpet pull for interior use, we can create a red patina by heating the casting and applying different oxides.

Ornamental grasses

 The blue festuca ornamental grass has made a great border for the pebble stone paths and it has thrived on minimal amounts of water delivered by a simple drip system. 

Agave and cactus

We splurged on a few golden barrel cacti that have grown slowly and used a lot of agave cuttings from a neighbor to fill in the spaces. The desmetiana  green yellow agave cuttings in one year have grown to be an impressive 3’ tall and are creating a small  succulent jungle.


Focal plants

Native of Australia the aptly named Kangaroo paw has grown to a be a tall 7’ magnificent gem that attracts many humming birds and bees. It thrives on neglect and sandy gravely soil and is a perfect accompaniment to the plumeria whose white and yellow flowers arrive earlier and so keep the garden a constant attraction to different birds.


White Raven Sculpture In Progress

The White Raven was not the intended title of this post but as an avid viewer of Game of Thrones my ears pricked up when replaying part of season 6 and hearing Sansa tell  Jon that a white raven had arrived from the Citadel. In the fictional world of the Citadel, white ravens are purported to be a different more intelligent  species to their black corvid cousins hence their fictional black eyes. In reality as author Carrie D. Miller explains, white ravens have leucism which is a condition that reduces the pigment in their eyes and feathers  resulting in  cream colored rather than  white feathers and  and  blue rather than black eyes. 

When looking for details about white ravens I came across some wonderful photographs taken by Mike Yip and posted on Carrie D. Millers site. You can see more beautiful photographs of ravens and other bird species on the site administered by Mike Yip

Photograph Courtesy of Mike Yip

Photograph Courtesy of Mike Yip

 Living in the hills of Hollywood we have the good fortune to see families of ravens on an almost daily basis but only once have we seen a white raven. I can attest that he/she looked perfectly healthy and happy in the presence of his/her darker siblings. The white raven, was as Ms. Miller correctly states more cream and beige in color than white.

 The sculpture was finished at the same time we saw the rerun of this series and so we decided to make a small video showing the piece in white basswood. To preserve the wood as well create a surface that will release more easily from the  rubber mold we have now finished the Raven with a water based varnish. Martin will next  begin making molds so that we can get one step closer to creating this piece in  bronze.

Orchid cabinet pulls - from wooden origins to bronze gems

As any orchid lover knows, these seductive clever plants have over time developed both their beauty and ingenuity to lure pollinators. The color and shape of each family type is used to seduce particular types of pollinators to them, be they bees, birds, moths or flies. The bright colorful orchids use their red, yellow and orange patterned flowers to attract day time pollinators while browner duller orchids use their powerful scent, not always pleasant, to attract nocturnal visitors like moths. Orchid families are further defined by their shape and this too determines the type of pollinator. The Cochiloda family for example has a narrow long lip that is easily accessed by the hummingbirds’ retractable tongue. By comparison the Cypripedium family have a flattened rim to their bulbous lips which makes a prefect landing spot for bees and insects.

Orchid and Black Bee square.jpg

Orchids have always been one of Martin’s favorite plants and back in 1979 he sculpted an oversized 3’ sculpture with an imaginary orchid carved in cherry wood and with a realistic bee carved in ebony. More recently Martin has created a more realistic bronze orchid flower and stem as cabinet pulls. The orchid flower, while relatively small is one of our most difficult and time-consuming pieces to make. Based on the anatomy of the Phalaenopsis family the flower has 3 sepals, 2 petals, a protruding lip and a central column. To do justice to the detail and depth of the orchid, the flower is cast from 3 molds to create 3 castings, one for the sepals and petals, a second for the bulbous lip and a third for the inner column. When making a sprig of orchids a total of 7 individual castings are welded to create this 8” wide pull.

Orchid anatomy.jpg
Orchid construction.jpg

For a more in-depth analysis of how different orchids and their pollinators have adapted to each other over time to create a mutually beneficial relationship follow the link below.

Modern Entry Door Pulls and their accessories

The Morphic cylindrical pull, as is the nature of most entry door pulls, is used as a door grip and not as a door lock. While this entry door pull works well both stylistically and practically with the Ergo keyed cylinder and deadbolt trim, the cylinder lock in this configuration has been manual rather than electronically operated. With the introduction of our LED colored version we are now designing a trim set to compliment the fretted lace design of this piece. While the trim will ultimately work with an electronic lock we will be ironing out casting bugs with a trim for a manual lock before deciding which electric locks to make our trim compatible with. As we assess suitable smart locks we will be weighing the advantages of hard wired versus battery operated units and whether to us a simpler keyed cylinder deadbolt versus a more heavy-duty mortise lock. We are open to suggestions so do email us with smart locks that you favor.

Keyed cylinder trim.jpg


The new Morphic keyed cylinder deadbolt is shown below as a concept in two tone polished and satin stainless steel and in 3 powder coated colors. It may be that with the subsequent electric trim we would incorporate an illuminated trim to tie in with color of the illuminated cylinder and if so then we would use an opaque diffuser, we will keep you posted as these concepts take shape. The Morphic and Ergo collections are typically specified in stainless steel but they are also available in oil rubbed bronze.

Baroque carving a training ground for nature inspired door handles

The Willow collection of custom door handles in part owes its existence to Martin Pierce’s early training as a wood carver. On leaving school at 16 he served an apprenticeship as wood carver and finisher and spent countless hours carving acanthus leaves, oak leaves and acorns as decorations for reproduction baroque furniture. The training was invaluable in developing carving and drawing skills and for focusing his awareness on leaf styles and movement in nature.

As a free-lance wood carver, Martin was able to reflect nature in a less stylized manner and he began sculpting trees and leaves with more fluid lines. As an antique reproduction carver Martin’s work was limited by the formality of each period he was copying. As a hardware designer and pattern maker his work is now constrained by the practical needs imposed by door hardware. In this composite shot you can see how the same willow leaves have been sculpted to act as small tight easy to hold knob for door bolts and how the same leaves have been carved as a looser vortex of flowing leaves to make a large entry door knob whose purpose is largely decorative.

The pattern for the center of the Willow leaf vortex  was carved in basswood and then painted with a grey primer to conceal the grain and pores of the wood and too create a smooth surface for reproduction in wax (red image). The wax replica is made by creating a mold from the pattern and it is approximately 4% smaller than the pattern.

Willow Pattern vortex.jpg

Large Exterior Doors Pulls - A Contemporary Style in Demand

The demand for large door pulls as entry statement hardware continues to thrive in the hospitality sector. The Ergo collection of contemporary entry door handles began modestly with the Heroic handle, ergonomically sculpted as left and right handles but still substantial at a height of 19” and girth of 1.75”.

The sequel was aptly named Epic but in the size contest has been relegated to second position with the arrival of Mega which has just been released at a height of 54” and hand friendly diameter of 1.5”.

Mega Ergo is cast here in Los Angeles using the lost wax method of casting and is cast either in solid stainless steel or investment grade silicon bronze. The length, fluid shape and complex curves of Mega created challenges that lent themselves to this method of investment casting. The original pattern was carved by hand in 2 sections that were mirror images of each other, essentially a left and right section that together create a single non-directional handle and one where the bowed central grip can be pointed inwards or outwards depending on door jamb restrictions. The size of  Mega at 54”  is too great a length for the molten metal to flow smoothly without cooling so 2 molds are used to create wax replicas of the left and right half of the pattern. The wax replicas are “shelled” and then  fired to create a hard ceramic casing. The fired pieces are then placed in an autoclave to remove the wax which is “lost” and molten metal is poured into the hollow cavity of the ceramic shells. Once the 2 sections have been cast they are welded by hand to create a seamless fluid handle.

This process is obviously labor intensive and time consuming but as we can make the handle in wax sections we can fabricate longer innovative handles and meet the artistic needs of designers looking for statement pieces for public spaces.






Wood carving made easy- part 2

We are currently making a custom door handle that will be hollow and will be lit by an LED strip which will be positioned inside the cavity of the handle. As the decorative details that form the theme of this will be cut out of the pattern we decided to make the hollow sphere by hand. If the pattern had been a simple and uniform geometric shape then we would have turned to 3D printing and created an SLA resin print from a CAD file. We will be working with 3D printing later to develop a light diffuser but will cover that topic in a subsequent post.

For those who are new to wood carving or are physically tired of laboriously removing large areas of wood from a block of wood then I would recommend using a mechanically assisted wood carving tool. There are several on the market but we use the automach wood carver available from Woodcraft. When we were more focused on furniture we used several of these to help speed up the carving process and they were invaluable in adding textural chip details to our Hedgerow dining chairs.

While the mechanized chisel is useful we revert to hand chisels when adding very fine detail and when we need a larger wider angled blade. We have shown both methods in the video featured here.

If you play the video you will also get a glimpse of the raven sculpture’s feet in the background which is an ongoing video project that we will be adding to soon.

Gecko Cabinet Pulls

We have just completed an order for Gecko cabinet pulls in interesting and contrasting finishes.

Geckos FB.jpg

The bright gecko is an example of brushed natural bronze, a finish created by buffing the gecko on a buffing wheel. The dark gecko is also buffed but to a lower luster and then dipped in a solution of M20 to create an overall black appearance.

The gecko is one of 2 lizard cabinet knobs and forms part of a compete series of lizard door hardware that includes entry door sets and interior door handles.

These 2 pieces serve as a good visual approximation for the industry finishes US4 (satin bronze) and US10B (dark satin bronze) which is described below.

Patina by Conversion Coating

Using M20 by Birchwood Technologies we make a 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.


The chemical conversion creates a uniform patina so to accentuate the gecko’s markings we gently burnish selected areas by hand with a fine nylon abrasive pad and thereby re-expose the golden tones of the bronze casting.


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 we have found Sculpt Nouveau’s metal oil and black wax easy to work with.


Mushroom Cabinet Knobs and Pulls

When is a mushroom a cabinet knob and when is it a cabinet pull?  Until last week I thought the question was at best a case of semantics and at worst a case of pedantry, but I stand firmly corrected as the wrong word choice can result in oblivion. I am not alas an expert in the field of SEO but when describing our cabinet accessories my primary focus has been on the design element, in this case mushrooms, with my secondary focus being the shape of a piece, if round a knob, if vertical or horizontal, a pull.


What had not occurred to me is that the word “mushroom” has on the internet come to mean button mushroom shape and so all manner of cabinet knobs that have no resemblance to a mushroom happily populate the image section for this search term.

Why does this bother me, have I perhaps been eating the wrong mushrooms?  Rest assured my concern has nothing to do with what I have been ingesting but has a lot to do with becoming frustrated with searches that come up short on fungi.


Thankfully there are some very talented and tenacious designers like Suzanne Childress  out there who know a mushroom pull/knob when they see one and who take the time to search through the maze to find the right piece for their client. My sincere thanks to Suzanne for finding our elusive pieces.