art sculpture

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.


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.