animal door knobs

Frogs and Toads for Halloween Treats

 Frogs are one of 3 creatures in our door hardware collection that spring to mind as spooky Halloween draws near. Our Raven and Bat sculptures will make their appearance in later posts but now the spotlight shines down on our amphibian friends of the warty and smooth varieties.

 

Our frog doorknob bears warts that are more typical of their dry skinned shorter legged toad cousins. When Martin modelled the frog doorknob, he wanted to add a textural element that would also give the frog a grumpier persona and for the naturalists amongst us it should be noted that in nature quite a few frogs do have bumps. 

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The Halloween connection for Frogs is attributed to Shakespeare’s song of the witches from Macbeth where this ill-fated creature is added to the cauldron for the witch’s brew. In folk lore, contact with the bumpy epidermis of frogs when accompanied by the right spell could inflict warts on one’s victims.

The frog doorknob shown hear is mounted on a wreath of entwined willow leaves and being cast in bronze can be finished with a simple oil rubbed patina or with a hot patina to create verdigris.

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Our smooth skinned frog cabinet pull is equally versatile and with the right hot patinas can be transformed to look like the poisonous dart frog found in the rain forests of central and south America.

 

 

How to add some fun to your kitchen remodel

How to add some fun to your kitchen remodel

To provide a better understanding of our small insect and reptile cabinet pulls we will over the next few months be photographing these little creatures form different perspectives. The hope is that this will help homeowners plan how and where to use these pieces and have a little fun in the process. We have typically photographed these pieces straight on and not surprisingly this is how they have been used on cabinet door and door fronts.


Cabinet pulls are typically thought of as being directional pieces but in nature tree frogs which our sculptures are based on are not directionally restrained.
The first image shows the profile, rear and aerial view of the left and right frog sculptures.

The second image shows how these 2 frog sculptures could be arranged in a leap-frog formation going up and down the cabinet door and drawer fronts. Given the whimsical nature of these pieces we feel you can indulge your sense of fun when tackling the more serious task of a kitchen remodel.


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The frog pulls shown here were cast in solid bronze and finished with a light antique patina which we strategically removed to create highlights which accentuate the very 3-dimensional nature of these pieces. All our cabinet pulls are sculpted as three-dimensional art pieces and each facet is refined to create a piece that is attractive from all sides.

Artistic kitchen ideas,Frog pulls,Pulls for kitchen cabinetry,Whimsical door pulls,animal cabinet pulls





Choosing Cabinet Handles for Children

We have just had the pleasurable task of helping a very thoughtful parent select suitable cabinet handles for his children’s game closet. The cabinet was fronted by 2 outward opening large doors behind which were 6 sets of smaller double doors housing a variety of games.
What I found especially pleasing was the way an eclectic but related theme of handles was chosen with each child receiving his/her pair of handles. The cabinet pulls were chosen from our animal inspired collection and were all finished in a soft light antique oil rubbed finish.
The result was a very artful collection of pieces reminiscent of the specimen cases of 19th century entomologists.


Two larger Polynesian inspired pulls were chosen for the main cabinet doors, the pulls are very thought provoking as the design is a fusion of bird, vine stem and even human features all of which flow together to create an abstract mythical piece. Cast in solid bronze, the pull is affixed top and bottom with 2 substantial 1 1/4” tall 5/8” diameter threaded posts which provide good clearance from the front of the cabinet making it an easy piece to grip.

While the pieces chosen should make for some engaging conversations, they were not designed for any specific audience but rather reflect Martin Pierce’s fascination with animals and insects.

The piece shown below is one that Martin did design for children and one that he had immense fun making although the Bombay shape and the characters portrayed in the parade challenged his skills both as a wood carver and storyteller.



Dragonfly beauty with efficiency

We now have a water feature at home so Martin spends a lot of time taking shots with his zoom lens of insects that it attracts and this weekend he was able to capture 2 mating dragonflies and the resulting beginnings of their progeny.

Martin uses a 28-200mm zoom lens and the details he caught of this dragonfly couple were not fully seen until they were uploaded onto his iPad. The couple mated on the wing for a brief couple of minutes and then the female dipped her ovipositor into the pond to disperse her eggs. The speed of the mating and egg deposit took us by surprise and we are impressed by the staggering efficiency of this reproductive cycle.

When the pictures were uploaded on Martin’s iPad we could appreciate the intricate beauty of this flying red wonder. The wings look like fragile window- panes

Having mated the female hovered over the pond and selected a location to lay her eggs.

She then deposited her eggs into the pond with her ovipositor which she also used to disperse her eggs.

Click and enlarge to fully appreciate the intricate detail of these window-pane wings that we cannot see with our naked eye.

Our bronze dragonfly maybe a poor facsimile of nature but we have tried to capture as much detail as possible in our bronze cabinet knob that weighs a hefty 2 ounces and that is colored with a hot red brown patina.


What is the best medium for door hardware patterns

There is no correct answer to this question, but your choice will depend on your method of designing and your skill sets. The broad choice is between creating a pattern using traditional carving or modeling techniques versus 3D designing and printing.

Traditional techniques -

You can create a solid pattern by modelling the design in clay and by adding and removing clay to obtain the desired shape. We are sculptors by training and create our patterns using wood or jewelers wax or high-density rigid foam. Basswood carves well as it is a close grained soft wood but the grain is distracting, and its directional nature means you have to be an adept carver changing direction with your chisels as you follow the grain. When the wood pattern has been carved, we typically coat it with a matt grey primer which both fills the grain and helps us see any imperfections that need to be carved out and sanded. While Jewelers blue wax is dense and one can achieve good detail it is not as strong as basswood and is more brittle which makes it less ideal when creating fine deep lines. Moreover, even though free of grain it has a uniform color that has a pronounced sheen both of which make it difficult to see what has been carved.

As both wax and wood have drawbacks, we find ourselves increasingly turning to high density rigid foam a product often used in the film industry by set designers to create props. This medium is light weight, dense, grain-less and matt and carves beautifully. It is available in blocks and easy to cut and glue and moderately priced.



The Hawaiian bird pulls were ordered recently by designer Christina Hilt in Florida in warmer tones to compliment the golden burl wood in her client’s closet. A dark patina accentuates the detail in a piece but if the pattern is carved with a deep relief carving then these details will still be seen even where there is minimal patina and minimal tonal contrast as was the case with Christina’s order.

Pattern in high density foam with foam block

Pattern in high density foam with foam block

Contemporary 3D pattern making

 If you are adept in digital designing, then you would begin by designing your pattern in illustrator or Painter or other 3D program. On completion the design would need to be output as a STL file which could then be printed as an SLA print which is a photo polymer

















Polynesian Inspired Cabinet Knobs

I recently stumbled upon early drawings that Martin Pierce did when commissioned to create a series of Hawaiian door and cabinet pulls for a residence in Kailua-Kona. In this post I will focus on how he developed the Double Headed and Single headed bird knobs.

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When commissioned the scope of design for the cabinet pulls was to create 2 types of knob one 6”W x 2”H for the drawer fronts and the other 2”W x 2”H for the cabinet doors in a style loosely described as “nature based Hawaiian”. There were no other parameters which left the creative field open for birds, fish, people and plants as design starting points. Martin decided to proceed in 2 directions with a plant theme and a bird-animal theme, the former resulting in the orchid collection and the latter with 2 bird head knobs. For the bird knobs Martin turned to surfing the web looking for examples of Polynesian folk art and what he came away with was an image of highly stylized geometrically detailed work. With these thoughts he focused on the heavy beaked Takahe bird found in New Zealand, the most southern point of geographic area that makes up the Polynesian islands. This ground living bird has a rather thick head and thick beak and using this as the end of the drawer pull he designed geometric semi circles spreading out from the eye to depict swells of feathers that also look like breaking waves.

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With the cabinet knob the beak and eye remain the focal point of the design but here a spiraling sea shell is used to form the birds tail.

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Colorful Cabinet Knobs and Pulls

As we come to the end of Spring in the Hollywood Hills, I wanted to capture the stunning and intense richness of the flora that flourishes in my neighborhood. The resulting photos show just how diverse and abundant the plant life is in my hood. My hope is that these images will sustain me as the drabber hot days of summer role in.

My appetite for color was no doubt influenced by a recent order from Nob Hill Hardware for scarab cabinet pulls finished with a hot maroon patina, a reference not to the intensity of the color but to the method of application. Most of our door handles are typically finished with an oil rubbed light or dark cold patina but our cabinet pulls are frequently ordered in red, green and yellow patinas. The bronze pull is heated with a blow torch and different pigmented oxides are applied with a brush to the surface of the bronze, a task that is easy to describe but difficult to perform and one that requires a very steady hand.

Jasmine and red bougainvillea are entwined in this floral bouquet.

jasmine and bougainvillea

These Yellow flowers have the same spongy texture as the succulents that they crown.

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We offer 2 sizes of scarab pull, the one pictured here is 1 ¾” wide x 2 ¾” high and the larger piece is 2 ½” wide x 3 ¼” high. Both are cast in solid bronze and are hefty weighing .75 and 1.5 lbs. respectively.



Easter Bunny Door Knobs

This bunny may have chocolate tones but being cast in solid bronze it is definitely not edible. Thinking of Easter bunnies, I followed Alice down the rabbit hole also known as the internet to research the origin of this Easter custom. Dependable Wikipedia sets out how the rabbit or rather the hare has possibly several ties to pagan times and has been associated with Eostre the goddess of dawn whose torches may have been carried by hares. Hares it seems have been celebrated by many from prehistoric times onwards as creatures of spring that herald lighter longer days and fertility to crops and mankind.

Our bunny door knob has more earthly origins and is based on a soft interpretation of this very soft animal. As a nod to the preferred diet he/she sits on a wreath of swirling vegetation all of which is cast in solid bronze and typically finished in a light antique brushed and oil rubbed patina. The bunny shape was designed so that all the legs and ears are tight to the body thereby making a round and compact door knob that fits easily in the palm of one’s hand. The bunny design is one of 4 nature inspired door knobs that collectively make-up our Netsuke collection, a collection whose namesake is the compact toggles used to fasten clothing. The Netsuke collection is interchangeable so a rabbit and frog or lizard or bee can happily co-exist on the same door, one on each side of the door. The netsukes can also be mounted on different back-plates to create a truly eclectic interior.

Painted Lady Butterflies and Their Influence on Door Hardware Designs

Painted Lady Butterflies and their influence on Hardware Designs

Like so many in Los Angeles we have been stunned and are “gob-smacked” at the multitude of Painted Lady Butterflies that we have seen this week. These small pretty insects are everywhere but only once has my iphone been to hand to snap a couple of shots.

While the monarch butterfly is sadly in rapid decline, for this year at least, the Painted Lady population is booming with billions passing through on their way north from the Mojave Desert. The exceptional rains that have put a temporary hold on California’s drought have given rise to an abundance of nectar as food for these migrating beauties. The short life cycle of a butterfly consists of 4 stages from egg, to caterpillar to pupae and then to butterfly and for the Painted Ladies lasts about 4 to 5 weeks.

I was surprised to discover that these small beauties can travel at speeds of 25 miles an hour and cover as much as 100 miles per day but this explains how they are able to make their trek from the Mojave to Northern California in their short lives.

We have been inspired by butterflies as well as bees, wasps and moths in our collection of insect cabinet pulls. We also have incorporated a butterfly as the thumb-latch for our entry way lizard handle set.

The Painted Lady captured here drinking from Clematis demonstrates this butterflies preference for purple clustered flowers, a fact observed by Katelyn Boisvert in her paper presented at the Young Naturalist Awards.

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Mixing it up with Bee Door Knobs and their Lizard Friends

The nature inspired Netsuke door handle collection was not conceived as an interchangeable series, but thankfully creative interior designers have conjured up imaginative ways to use these as combination door handle sets. Case in point is a recent project where the bee door knob was paired with the lizard door knob to create a whimsical statement. The sets were specified in polished bronze to create a stunning jewel like set for a custom makeover of the master bedroom and bathroom. The bathroom privacy set used a simple push-pin latch on the honey comb side with a discreet emergency release on the bark rose side of the door (exterior).

Our door handle knob sets are connected with a square 8mm spindle that is attached to each knob with a set screw or Allen screw. As we use the same type of spindle for all our door knobs most of the knobs are interchangeable. Since other door hardware manufactures use different spindles and methods of attachment our knobs may not be suited as half sets with knobs supplied by others.

The Netsuke collection comprises 4 interchangeable animal knobs including a rabbit, frog, bee and lizard making them popular choices for children’s bedrooms. While whimsical in nature, these animal knobs are finely detailed and cast in solid bronze with each knob using a lb. of molten bronze.

As a transitional set that bridges the classical with whimsical you may want to consider the Hedgerow and Willow knob on the more public exterior side of your door with a Netsuke knob on the more private interior side.

Gecko Cabinet Pulls

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

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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.

Highlighting

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.

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