art sculpture

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.


Frog leaping.jpg


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.

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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.



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

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.

Iguana Door Pulls situ.jpg
Iguanas copy.jpg

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.

Lizard sketch.jpg




Insect Art Sculptures - Stag Beetles by Martin Pierce

We are focusing some of our design and casting energies on smaller terrestrial creates that arguably take on an extra-terrestrial persona when they are portrayed as larger than life subjects.

Beetles and in particular stag beetles have been inspiring awe in Martin Pierce since his early childhood but only now is he able to capture their majesty in bronze. The first sculpture of 2 fighting stag beetles was completed in the late 1970’s when Martin carved a pair in Ebony, a very hard wood that can be polished to a high sheen.

Stag beetles are part of the Lucanidae family of beetles of which there are several hundred different types. The stag beetle that Martin saw in England was probably the Lucanus Cervus so named for it’s very large mandibles that clearly reminded early botanists of stag antlers. The stag beetle is aptly named and like the male deer the mandibles are used like antlers to establish male rank and priority in everything from mating to food to territory.

bronze-scarab-side.jpg

The bronze beetles that from part of Martin’s collection of art works were loosely modelled on the Japanese Miyama stag beetle. The original pattern was carved in wood and 5 molds were made for the head, body, left and right legs and antennae. As the 6 legs (3 left,3right) are separate castings this allows Martin some leeway in how he welds and positions the feet and enables him to create a more animated sculpture.

bronze-sculpture-limited-edition-Stag-beetle-front A.jpg

The size of the sculpture 20” (from antler to toe) and the polished patina on the bronze metal allow the ridges and indentation of the wing casings and knuckles of the legs and serrated jaw bone to be appreciated as both tactile and visual experiences.