architectural hardware

Limited Edition Door Handles

Limited Edition Door handles
We are a limited production company making finely detailed hand-made door hardware but our grapevine heroic door handle is a limited edition and here we examine both concepts.

All of our hardware is made using the lost wax method of casting and each piece is always chased by hand and finished by hand, which is a production process that simply does not work for industrial manufactures making 100’s or thousands of door handles. As artisans we are able to focus on smaller quantities which ensures that we can produce high quality unique and we hope more interesting pieces. In this sense our work is similar to that of the boutique or small winery who by virtue of their size are able to put more care into their craft than larger wineries.
Continuing the analogy the Grapevine Heroic door pull is akin to a small celebratory edition of wine where the number of bottle is limited to a few cases. The door pull was designed as a statement piece for wine collectors and is scaled for large wine cellar doors. The pull is made with the same care as any other piece but it’s scale, design and complexity warranted the added value of a finite edition of 100 pieces. Being 42” high and with 3 intricate sections the waxes are made personally by Martin Pierce who shapes and refines the smallest of details so that each piece is truly unique. Each piece is numbered and signed by Martin at the wax stage and we are currently at number 15.


Our hardware designs evolved from our work as furniture makers where we offered limited editions for the Vine Highboy (100) Aspen Buffet (30) and Aspen armoire (50).
The small number of the edition and the price point ensure that the edition will take several years to complete with each piece being fresh to the artists eye.

Using a heated scalpel and hand chisel Martin removes small imperfections from the wax

Using a heated scalpel and hand chisel Martin removes small imperfections from the wax

Custom door handle spindles for very deep doors


Our door handles are made to order here in Los Angeles. Once a door handle set has been cast and before any patina is applied the pieces must be machined and assembled according to the door specifications. While previous posts have explained how back-sets and handing affect the choice of components little has been said about how the thickness and material of the door can impact the choice of door spindle.
In the context of door handles and accessory door hardware the spindle is a metal rod that passes through the door and can be used to perform different functions;
a. Act as a connector to connect the 2 knob/levers of the handle set and to turn the tubular latch.

b. As a connector to a turn piece that will pass mid-way through the door to turn or throw a latch bolt.

c. To connect door knobs/levers where there is tubular latch that can be locked or unlocked using a pin that is pushed in or pulled back. In this instance, one half of the spindle swivels so that when turned the knob or lever will unlock the door typically from the inside as would be the case in a powder room. A half swivel spindle also enables a door to be opened where a mortise lock is used, in both these cases only half the spindle swivels otherwise the door could be opened from both sides. As a side note to keep the knob or lever on the swivel end taught an auxiliary spring is trapped at the end of the spindle and placed under pressure part way into the center of the spindle, this keeps the knob in place despite the frequent rotation of the spindle.

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I am reluctant to ever use the word “standard” in any hardware context, but interior doors are often 1 3/8” or 1 ¾” deep and we would use respectively a 2 ½” and 3 ½” spindle.
A Hedgerow passageway knob set has just been ordered for a 5” thick door and so we are making 2 custom spindles, one at approximately 8” for the knob set and the second at 6” for the turn piece described above which is shorter as it will only be passing through half of the door. The door is unusually thick as both sides will be upholstered adding a pliancy element to the equation that may impact the final door thickness. As the upholstery is likely to contain soft padded material the installer may need to shorten the spindle, so the fabric is compressed slightly around the escutcheon so that the knobs are sufficiently tight.

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

















Custom designs made by adapting existing cabinet pulls - a pragmatic alternative

In previous posts we have explained why creating one-off custom pieces is expensive as it requires a 3-dimensional pattern to be made and then a one- or two-part mold, all of which takes considerable time and expense.

However, don’t be too downhearted as there is a pragmatic alternative, that is if you like one of our collections and have a creative mind.

Our hardware collections reflect a theme and while each collection embodies the same style the pieces are not simply smaller and larger versions of one pattern, but artistic adaptations of the style honed to fit a particular function and scale. A good example of what I mean can be seen by comparing 3 willow cabinet pulls, while all were designed for cabinet doors and drawers and all have flowing leaves each of the pieces is different and distinct and reflects a holistic approach to design.


Sometimes we find ourselves thinking like the pizza chef who is called upon to add extra basil but hold the anchovy. Using my culinary analogy and realizing that taste is obviously subjective I was presented with the challenge of making the large willow cabinet pull but with fewer extraneous leaves and with a concentrated leaf arrangement akin to the smaller cabinet version. We were also asked to see if we could grow the willow sprig so that it could be used as an appliance pull with a span of 16”.



Below you can see how we cut and pasted a left and right willow sprig at the wax stage and how we then melded the sections together to create a longer piece. At this point a minimal amount of time and expense has been spent on creating a new piece and if approved we will use this new wax pattern to create a bronze casting. Since this will be an appliance pull, we do not expect the order to be for more than a few pieces and for each casting we will go through the same cutting and pasting process. If the order had been for many units then we would have created a new permanent pattern from which a mold would have been formed so that hundreds of subsequent waxes could be made.

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By making a left and right willow sprig in wax we were able to fuse the 2 to create a hybrid piece.

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Nature inspired cabinet pulls

The yellowjacket wasp was the model for our open and closed wing wasp cabinet pull and was originally designed for the Ascot Highboy a furniture piece made by our sister company Martin Pierce Furnishings. In keeping with the yellowjacket we finished these pieces with a yellow oxide which we burnished along the wing veins to expose the golden bronze beneath.

The Ascot tallboy was a limited edition of 100 which was closed at number 78 in 2013. The piece was made using quartered English brown oak, selected for its rich brown amber hues and for it’s dark “leoparding” a term that refers to the darker spotted figuring. The open and closed wing wasps were patinated to compliment this distinctive wood.

Several years ago, on a road trip to Idaho, we stayed at Lake Pend Oreille and came across the bald-faced hornet which is a relative of the yellowjacket but being much larger it is referred to as a hornet. The black and white markings of this insect are why it is referred to as bald-faced rather like the way we refer to the “bald” eagle.

Our memory of the hornet’s markings influenced a recent order that called for a simpler black oxide patina. By restricting the black patina to the head and thorax and by burnishing the wings we were able to create a dramatic statement using a simple patina on a small piece.

The wasps are cast in solid silicon bronze and are part of our insect and animal collection of cabinet knobs.

The latest addition to our wine cellar hardware collection

Cabinet Pulls for smaller spaces – latest addition to the Grapevine Collection

Our holistic approach to door hardware is one of the reasons we like to design complete collections that allow the consumer to continue a theme from entry door, to interior door to cabinet pulls and bathroom accessories. It also means that we are constantly adapting designs to give the designer a more complete range of hardware to chose from.

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Our collection of wine cellar door handles led us to design a vine leaf cabinet pull which at 6"W x 3"H x 1 1/2"D works well as a drawer or cabinet door pull. However, for smaller confined spaces we saw a need for a smaller piece and have just added a new complimentary vine loop pull. The loop pull measures 2 ¼”W x 1 1/4”Hx x and projects 1 ½”x making it easy to grip. The pattern for this petite piece was carved by hand from a block of blue wax which is typically used by jewelry artists to sculpt ring patterns. A simple rubber mold was made and then used to create red wax replicas which went through the casting process from shelling to pouring to chasing and were finally finished with a light antique oil rubbed patina.

We mounted the larger vine leaf and the new loop pulls on cabinet drawers that were made using a cherry wood for the frame and myrtle burl cross hatched with wenge for the panels.

Wine cellar cabinet hardware

Wine cellar cabinet hardware

These images below show the fine hand- carved details of the wax pattern. For smaller pieces blue wax is a good sculpting option and you can achieve quick results with good eye hand coordination.

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The Design Process for Door Handles

Creating door hardware is a balancing act where artistic inspiration is balanced and refined to meet the practical demands of functionality.

Continuing from last weeks post I want to share some of the initial designs that were submitted to designer Debbie Zylstra for her client’s home in Kailua-Kona. Debbie was in the process of designing a home entertainment center in Koa wood and wanted to incorporate dramatic door pulls for sliding doors. The cabinet was grand in scale at a height of 9’ and the lizard heroic handles were considered as a possibility. These pieces are extremely realistic, and the client wanted something more stylized and original but in the reptile family so, pencil in hand, Martin sketched out the iguanas. Martin designed 2 interlocking iguanas which give the illusion of being 2 different pieces, but which use one iguana that is inverted to create a pair. To get a sense of proportion he then reduced the scale and inserted the design into a scaled drawing of the cabinet. The body and head of both iguanas project out from the cabinet door by 4” and the underside of each projects 1 ½” so that there is enough clearance for the hand to grab either the head or tail of each iguana to slide the pocket door open. The angle of the head, legs and tail were made so that the pair would interlock comfortably but leave sufficient space so that fingers would not be pinched.

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Below are the original sketches for the first large reptile sculptures that are the central pieces in the Lizard collection. Given their realistic design Martin felt he needed to create a left and right facing lizard so that he could more naturally capture the movement of a pair of lizards. The pair was designed so that the head of the right lizard protrudes beyond the slate back-plate allowing the thumb to then be extended to depress the butterfly thumb piece and thereby release the door latch.

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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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Post Oak Hotel -Custom Door Handles from Design to Casting

 

In an earlier piece we described how we were commissioned to make custom door handles for the landmark Post Oak Hotel. Here we give a brief preview of what is discussed in our newly created News section.

We were contacted by Gensler Architects to design handles for the shower doors for the luxury suites for the new Post Oak Hotel in downtown Houston. The handle needed to be 12” in height, round in shape, comfortable to grip and made in a durable alloy. As inspiration we were sent a photograph of a chain bracelet and Martin Pierce reinvented this as a metal braid which he sketched and used to create the first maquette.

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As alternative design he sketched a piece which loosely resembled a chain of vertebrae or building blocks which he named “Segment”.

These drawings became the basis for the first patterns, molds and ultimately the prototype handles which were cast in stainless steel. For the braid handle he made 2 alternative ends, a soft rounded crown and a more contemporary flat version and it was the latter that went into full production.

Pattern making –

To create the Braid pattern Martin wove 3 stands of electrical wire into a tight braid which he used to create a simple mold so that the braid could be reproduced in resin. Seven sections of resin braid were made and individually fitted to the surface of a wooden dowel. The pattern was then tooled by hand to remove imperfections and to fill any small voids. The round ends were turned on a wood lathe. The Segment handle was assembled from different diameter dowels that Pierce cut at varying angles and then jointed to form a continuous length.

 

Too read and see more of this process please check out our News page.

 

 

Luxury Door Hardware is Defined by the Details

By choosing the lost wax method of casting and by casting only in silicon bronze or stainless steel we have by virtue of the casting method and type of alloy created door handles that are expensive. However, our focus on hand finished details from “chasing” the bronze castings to skillfully and slowly adding patina justifies the price tag. As a case study I have photographed the wine grotto door handles that I mentioned in a prior post.

When assembled each escutcheon plate with lever weighs 4lbs and measures 4” W x 14”H and all of it is silicon bronze not a precious material since it is not exactly rare, but certainly an expensive quality metal. Bronze is an alloy that flows well, and this makes it a perfect medium to capture the fine details and undulations of vine tendrils and leaves of this back-plate and lever. Once cast the bronze pieces need to be refined by hand to remove any debris or surplus metal that has attached to the surface and this done by using metal chisels and grinders through a process called “chasing”. After the larger imperfections have been removed the entire back-plate and lever are buffed with series of buffing tools with the grit of each becoming progressively finer until the bronze is free of abrasions and tool marks. The pieces are then ready to be immersed in a cold patina which reacts with the bronze to oxidize it and turn it black. The degree of darkness is determined by the length of time the piece is immersed and once achieved the piece is then neutralized in water to halt the chemical process.

Marked in Green Areas to be Chased Final piece after refining and with patina

Marked in Green Areas to be Chased Final piece after refining and with patina

Now the true artistry begins as we rework the piece to create highlights by buffing the surface in select areas thereby sanding through the patina to re-expose the golden bronze.

Small Wine Closet Big Statement

Investing in wine is a serious venture and one that works best for those able to exercise self-control in the interest of deferred gratification.

Once the long-term commitment to wine collecting has been made the connoisseur then has to plan how to house the collection and this is where the creative challenge begins. When I think of wine collections I tend to think of lofty cellars deep in the basements of grand chateaus or perhaps grandiose Sonoma wineries and indeed our grapevine collection fits well in either setting. What I am less likely to think of is the modest interior of a hallway closet.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Faye Montgomery, a Los Angeles homeowner who was in the process of renovating a home that she and her husband had bought in West Los Angeles. When I first heard that Faye was creating a wine closet, I instinctively thought of our smaller scale vine door handle which at a more modest height of 14” works well for smaller wine rooms. However, on looking at the 30” x 80” glass door I understood why Faye was leaning toward the Ergo extended door pull a dramatic 3’ tall contemporary door grip. While the Ergo handle may not be an obvious choice, I think it is clear from the photos that this 2-toned sculptural piece works beautifully with the ceramic wall tiles that mimic hexagonal metal studs and a ceramic floor that looks like weathered walnut. Although the wine closet is small the sleek handle appears to be floating and in so doing does not over-power the wine collection which also appears air born. Taken together the 3-dimensional tiles, the angled ceramic floor and the handle create a clever illusion of timeless space.

Photo Courtesy of Faye Montgomery

Photo Courtesy of Faye Montgomery

Tiles from Spain available through Emser Tile, West Hollywood.

Dragon Egg Nest Discovery

On a rugged outcrop on a small deserted island in the outer Hebrides a quite fantastic discovery has just been made. A clutch of very large illuminated eggs was found buried just beneath the topsoil by archeologist studying the Mesolithic age. Scientists remain baffled as to what creature laid the eggs but are certain that it was extremely large and that it could fly great distances. Local residents in the nearby islands of Vatersay and Sandray a culture rich in folk lore are less surprised by the discovery and point to the winged fiery Gods of Antheray in the legends of their ancestors. While it remains to be seen what credence scientists will give to these larger than life stories, field researchers are reportedly searching the dig area for black coal or anthracite deposits that have been used by humans and possibly other mammals for centuries as a source of fire and fuel.

Dragon Egg Clutch or Could these be LED Lights By Martin Pierce

Dragon Egg Clutch or Could these be LED Lights By Martin Pierce

Anthropologists also believe that the dig site may show how early man co-existed and benefitted from the breeding habits of these creatures. One hypothesis is that our ancestors used the discarded shells of the fledgling creature as a building material or possibly as a handheld shield for combat. The theory being that the harsh weather conditions of the region would quickly ossify the shells making them both light weight and impenetrable and thus perfect for either use.

Last but not least support is growing for a Los Angeles based designer’s hypothesis that these shapes are contemporary.



Dragons Deserve A Brighter Future

As dragons seem to be dying, more thought needs to be given to breading dragons and this made me ponder our Dragon egg sconce named in humble tribute to this majestic reptile.

As an avid follower of their fate I was saddened when the first dragon met his chilly death and then horrified as Viserion resurrected said dragon as a hollow ghost. Despite this I was not emotionally prepared when a second dragon was felled by Euron Greyjoy’s mighty cross bow and have since been in a state of heightened anxiety over the plight of the remaining dragon.

Oh well life goes on and light still shines in our LED Dragon egg sconce which is not endangered, and which can be ordered with mood enhancing blue, red or green LED spots. Alternatively, if you are seeking to avoid any sad reminders of recent developments then our Floral sconce with its life embracing leaves may be the perfect antidote.

Both sconces are UL tested and approved and are made to order here in Los Angeles in bronze or stainless steel. The Dragon Egg was originally cast in stainless steel and being silver gray lent itself to our armor like motif. The floral sconce with its fluid soft lines and entwined leaves was cast in bronze a metal with brown earth tones and warmer hues. The scones are between 16” to 18” in height and 6”deep and each creates an organic dispersion of light. When cast in bronze the Floral sconce can be finished with a hot patina green or amber patina to add a spring or autumnal mood.










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.



When is a wine cellar a grotto?

If this sounds like a punch line to a joke, then please do let me in on the joke.

The answer maybe “When you live in Texas”.

I had a lovely conversation this week with a resident of Texas and since we both have accents and are soft spoken I spent a good 3 minutes believing I had misunderstood when she had asked if we made hardware for wine grottoes, eventually I confessed my ignorance and my vocabulary has now grown.

Turning to Wikipedia I discovered that the word comes from the Italian “grotto” and the French word “grotte” both meaning either a natural or man-made cave or cellar not surprising given that both countries have been making wonderful wines for centuries.

Next I turned by attention to the back set of the door that was being custom made in maple with a proposed back set of 2 3/8”. The back set is the distance from the edge of the door to the center point of the back plate or escutcheon. The wider the back plate the deeper the back set will need to be. The center of the back plate is where the lever or knob will be positioned or in the case of a locking door it will also be where the cylinder face is positioned. The handle set components are centrally positioned on the back plate to give symmetry to the trim. The handle set is then positioned on the door stile and if sufficiently wide will be centered but if space is tight it may be positioned closer to the edge of the door.



Door latches and locks are made with standard back sets with 2 3/8” and 2 ¾” being common for tubular latches and 2 ½” and 2 ¾” being common for mortise locks.



The Grapevine entry lever set has a standard back plate that is 4” with the center being 2”. If the door was built with a bore hole for lever/knob at a back set of 2 3/8” then this would leave a mere 3/8” clearance from the outer edge of the back-plate to the edge of the door an area that will often be caught by the door’s stop which is why we recommend a 2 3/4” back set. For doors that have already been drilled for a 2 3/8” back set we do offer a narrower 3 3/8” back plate with a 1 11/16” center.

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.

Luxurious Soap Dishes an Enduring Detail for Master Bathrooms

It is true to say that the subject of soap dishes is hardly the most exciting of topics for a blog, but these domestic items do deserve a mention.While this modest vessel is often a boring mundane feature in most bathrooms there are some notable exceptions.

If your taste is for semi-precious gemstones then look no further than Mike and Ally who offer a selection of bathroom accessories in lapis, amethyst and flourite. These gemstone pieces are quite unique as each is made from hewn stone and with no 2 pieces the same, this brand delivers one of a kind soap dishes with every dish having a distinctive pattern of veins and hues.

Mike and Ally also offer a range of precious metal accessories in polished and matt gold and silver.

While we do not offer our Ergo or Morphic bathroom collections with gemstone we do think they can be considered as hidden gems that will surprise and delight family members.

We usually cast these collections in 316 stainless steel a corrosion resistant and highly durable alloy which can be polished to a high luster or brushed for a satin finish or for the ultimate in sophistication, finished in two-tone polished/satin. For a warmer appearance these pieces can be cast in silicone bronze an alloy that is also corrosion resistant but one that will change color as the metal develops its own natural patina. One reason to choose soap dishes made of gemstones or cast in solid steel or bronze is that both will endure the test of time and neither will rust so can be kept as timeless gems to beautify your powder room or master bathroom.

A Swarm of Bees Inspires a Collage of Bee Knobs

This has been the most remarkable spring but the arrival of a swarm of bees was as unexpected as it was spectacular. On Sunday we heard loud buzzing from our front garden and spent the next hour watching the process of hundreds of bees settling in our Brazilian Pepper Tree. What began as a few bees over the next hour became a mass all huddling together to protect the queen. By evening the swarm had settled in and become calm as the temperature cooled and their rest time commenced.

While we knew that the Queen was at the center of this colony, we did not fully understand why this event had occurred so turned to the internet. The queen increases the size of the colony by laying eggs that become worker bees and so the colony grows until it eventually it out-grows the hive at which point the queen lays a few queen eggs. The queen then leaves the hive before the new queen bee hatches and takes with her about half of the worker bees to journey onwards to begin a new hive. We were lucky spectators at the point where the queen and her followers had set out in search of a suitable location for their new home and had decided to rest over-night in our tree. At no point did the swarm pose any threat to us as we passively looked on from a safe distance remaining still save for the photos we took.

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The following morning the queen and her entourage waited to be warmed by the sun before continuing on their quest.

I was inspired by the sight of these live bees to create a playful collage using our polished bee door knob with a back-drop of dark honeycomb roses which is the most well-known handle set from our Netsuke collection of animal door handles.

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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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