cabinet pulls

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





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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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.



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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Wine Cellar Door Hardware

We are expanding our collection of wine cellar door hardware and have just designed a small cabinet pull that will function more as a cabinet knob.

The design was sketched by hand at full scale and from both the plan and front views.

The vine knob at 2 ½”W, 1 1/2” was designed for cabinet drawers and as a complimentary piece to the larger 6 ½” vine pull.

The small scale of this piece enabled Martin Pierce to carve it from a block of blue wax manufactured by Ferris® being a wax designed for use with high speed machines as well as steel carving chisels.

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The outline of the knob was drawn with a felt tip pen onto the face of the block of wax which was then cut out on a band-saw. The individual leaf segments and fine leaf outline were cut using a slow moving scroll saw. Martin then carved the fine veins and shaped the leaf contours using 3 types of chisel and an improvised hand scraper made from a band-saw blade.

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Many of Martin’s chisels were acquired when he was an apprentice wood carver and they were made by legendary William Marples & Sons in Sheffield, England. The chisels were forged from the finest Sheffield steel and they maintain their sharpness even when cutting dense hardwood.

For the carving enthusiasts and hobbyists amongst you can read more about the superlative chisels that were made by William Marples by visiting http://www.williammarplesandsons.com

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Rio Grande is a good source for the blue carving wax

More to life than door handles

The rains have turned the area we live in into a beautiful landscape full of trees in blossom and nesting birds in what is still a dense but thriving urban environment.

With the recent 3-day weekends we have been able to walk for hours in the Hollywood hills and were able to capture some lovely and surprising views.

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What is always startling is how quickly the grasses spring to life and turn the hills into a verdant intensely green landscape. While the Hollywood sign is a familiar view it is great to see it through a curtain of green leaves.

The bottle bush trees are a familiar sight but when in full foliage they take on the character of a weeping willow with their fine dropping branches. In the Willow sprig pull these flowing tendrils are captured in molten bronze. The handles are available as either right or left cabinet pulls but, in the photo, we accentuated their weight by superimposing these 2 handles.

Mule deer also reside in these hills and we saw whole families of them grazing happily on the lush vegetation.

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We spotted a pair of ravens preening each other whilst perched on a bare sycamore branch.

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Several of the photos were taken from the vantage point of the Hollywood reservoir which is also a great place for bird spotting as it is frequented by herons, egrets and the occasional osprey.

Plants That Never Fade

Having hunkered indoors to avoid the torrential rain we were finally able to take a refreshing walk in the Hollywood Hills and discovered some trees and bushes that are already blooming including pink camellias and golden mimosas.

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Living in this exceedingly temperate climate we also have plants that can bloom at any time of year as their reproductive cycle occasions. A spectacular example can be seen in the desmettiana green and yellow agave that we planted back in May 2016 when we turned our garden from being a sad lawn to a water tolerant stunning landscape. Just under 3 years later the desmettiana cuttings have grown to am impressive 12’ in height and have thrown up sculptural asparagus spears that have just blossomed into fleshy yellow flowers. What is beyond my comprehension is how this agave giant has grown to such height and girth with minimal water and no added nourishment. The spears began to shoot up before we had seen the recent rains showing us these plants true mettle.

Desmettia Giants in a drought tolerant garden

Desmettia Giants in a drought tolerant garden

The pollen is hidden deep inside the flower at the base of its stamens making it accessible to only the most tenacious bees and hummingbirds, the latter being suitably equipped with long beaks and even longer tongues.

Modern cabinet pulls and nickel plating

Nickel is a hard corrosion resistant metal and it is one of the components in 316 stainless steel that we use in many of our door handle and cabinet pull castings. Nickel is also used to plate metal and a thin layer is deposited onto the surface through the electro-plating process. The nickel layer can be used to protect the base metal from corrosion and wear but it can also be used to create a decorative finish. We offer nickel plating as a custom finish and recently plated our Hedgerow branch pulls over a bronze base to achieve a more rustic look.

In an earlier post we detailed how we modified the Hedgerow branch pull to accommodate a bank of kitchen cabinets where space was tight and traffic was high. As there were only a handful of pieces it would not have been cost effective to make a new pattern and mold so we modified each of the 9 cabinet pulls when they were still in the wax stage by sculpting each piece. The two wax mounting posts were cut and repositioned and the ends of the tree canopy were cut and re-sculpted making each pull shorter and self-returning.

Mounting posts were re-positioned and ends shortened in the wax stage

Mounting posts were re-positioned and ends shortened in the wax stage

Once cast, the pulls were buffed, cleaned and plated. Nickel plating is versatile and can be used over polished or matt surfaces and can be finished in a range of light to dark patinas. In this instance we were matching the new pieces to ones that were installed 18 months ago but as we had a sample Boyles Snyder were able to make a perfect match.

Silver cabinet pulls for a Luxury London Residence


Silver and gold are unusual choices for cabinet handles but when integrated into a credenza design they can become the finishing touch. Our first silver plated pulls were commissioned by interior Design Anna McPherson when she was with the international developer Candy & Candy. On that occasion we silver plated our dragonfly, geckos and frog handles. More recently Anna has used silver plating to add sparkle to our sycamore leaves for a custom credenza being made by the furniture craftsman, Thomas James in Worcester, England.


While Martin Pierce designed these leaves to function as left and right pulls, each was made as a unique cabinet handle, reflecting the reality one finds in nature where no 2 leaves are identical.

The first sycamore leaves were made for the Ascot armoire, a limited edition piece that Martin Pierce Furnishings our sister company makes. The armoire as you can see is decorated with a scene of autumnal leaves rendered in gold leaf and glazed with layers of translucent pigment. The handles were simply buffed and left as natural bronze to provide a subtle compliment to the leafy scene.

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To add depth to the bronze leaves we add a dark patina to the buffed metal and re-burnish select areas on the edges and higher sections and then we oil and wax the surface to help fix the finish.

For a more dramatic colorful finish we use a brown chemical patina which needs to be applied to a hot surface which we achieve by heating the piece with something akin to a blow torch.



Custom cabinet hardware and the challenge of creating steel replicas of pewter castings

We were recently commissioned to replicate cabinet handles from the 1920’s for use in other areas of a home being renovated. It was not possible to establish the base metal used for the originals without damaging the pieces and our best guess was possibly the castings were made in pewter or nickel. While the metal alloy did not impact our ability to replicate the shape of these 3 cabinet pieces it did present us with interesting patina and finish choices.

We began the project by carefully cleaning the originals so that we could get a good impression in our latex rubber mold. As the pieces were small simple shapes we were able to make a single two-part mold that would accommodate all 3. We could have made individual molds for each piece but given that we were making less than 50 pieces this would not have been cost effective. We made a simple mold and after cleaning the originals sprayed on a release agent making them easier to later extract from the latex mold.

The photo below shows the red waxes that were made from this type of mold using Westech’s V510 wax V510 that has melting range of 185° to 195°. The originals were made for different screw threads, but the replicas need to suit modern needs so were drilled and tapped for a uniform 8-32 threaded screw. Stainless steel is an excellent durable alloy but needs to be heated when applying Birchwood’s M20 dark patina. As an added measure we baked the pieces in a clear matt enamel to protect the patina and give a very subtle sheen.

After Patina Applied and with Clear Enamel Baked On

After Patina Applied and with Clear Enamel Baked On

In steel before finishing and in red wax

In steel before finishing and in red wax

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

 

Spring Has Sprung the Ladybirds have arrived

We recently visited Idyllwild, a small town with impressive mountains, forests and a prolific ladybird population. On first sight my mind was confused by the sheer number of ladybirds which conservatively numbered into the thousands and which were all huddled together on rocks, tree branches and fence posts.

I have wondered about the curious name of this beetle and visiting www.wikipedia.com discovered that the name originated in Britain where the insect came to be called “Our Lady’s bird”. The beetle it seems is part of the Coccinellidae family of beetle, a name that is derived from the Latin word for scarlet which was a color often used in early paintings of Our Lady’s cloak. In the United States the name was adapted to Ladybug.

Whatever the exact origins of this beetles name it is still a colorful and beneficial addition to any garden as it preys on herbivorous aphids and so helps keep our plants free from foragers.

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We are keen fans of most insects and have been inspired to use them as cabinet pulls, turn pieces and as decorative medallions to cover dowelled joints in our furniture pieces. The cluster of bronze beetles shown here are ones that are used in our Rickshaw lounge chair and they decorate the dowel that joints the chair arm and leg. These small beetles can also be used to decorate holes when a door pull is secured with a through screw or bolts.

 

Blue Birds Make A Clean Start in 2018

We celebrated 2018 in Paso Robles with close friends and our dog Iris. The hikes, chilly air and the bird life all helped to revitalize our moods and energy and so like these Blue birds we enter 2018 with a refreshed perspective.

We have incorporated bird designs in both our animal cabinet pulls and in our jay bronze sculpture and will be adding a raven to our collections in the months ahead. While the blue birds shown here are vivid colorful creatures they do not make easy subjects for bronze castings as their markings and multiple colors are difficult to create even with hot patinas. The scale of these small birds with their thin legs is also challenging making it necessary to add an artistic mount to support the heavy body weight. 

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Ravens  by comparison have a more uniform color range and stronger legs proportionate to their body size making them perfect as free standing sculptures. We live in the Hollywood Hills and have several families of ravens that we see on a daily basis and appreciate their flying skills, antics and obvious intelligence.

 Martin has just begun his initial design for this new piece and  has decided that the piece will be close to life size at 22” from beak to tail feathers and in a pre-flight position. He is currently hoping to find someone in the Los Angeles area who has a captive raven so that he can photograph the bird from other perspectives so if anyone has any suggestions please let me know.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

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While we do not presently offer zombie door handles or other flesh eating creatures we do have a few lizards to celebrate Halloween with and there is a definitely an audience out there that demonize these reptile.

If you are  searching for air born winged demons then look no further as we have a left and right facing bat to add a note of horror or whimsy to your cabinetry.

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Bats are left and right facing making them more ergonomic for the left handed amongst us. Their directional nature is also useful for the majority of kitchens where you have double doors or where you are looking to match the “handing” of your door. The challenges of door handing have been discussed in previous posts.

For those who associate toads with Halloween we can help you with our leaping tree frogs as cabinet pulls or with frog knobs for your interior or exterior doors.

In short we have a variety of Halloween offerings to choose from and hope the artistry of our designs as well as the medium of bronze will help your choice outlive the shortness of this macabre holiday. Enjoy.  

 

 

How to make a simple mold for lost wax casting

Over time all things age and the longevity of a mold will depend on the composition of the mold material and frequency of use. We make a variety of  molds some require metal or fiberglass reinforcement and are not ideally suited for home use but others are possible to make at home provided you are patient and dexterous.

Our frog cabinet pulls are a popular item but we still make these by using a simple gravity pour rather than injection method to create the wax replicas for our lost wax castings.

The frog mold is a 2 part mold that is held together by simple peaks in one half of the mold and troughs in the other half mold that act as keys to tie the mold together. The troughs or holes are created using a drill bit or punch which is pushed into the modeling clay that holds the pattern in place. As this is a 2 part mold the skill comes in delicately building up the modeling clay up one half of the pattern without breaking of the small frog digits.

Once the frog is secure in modeling clay and all undercuts have been filled in we apply 3 or 4 coats of silicone rubber with a paint brush, we use Mold Max 30 by Smooth-on. After the silicon rubber is set we reinforce the mold with a more rigid plaster compound called Plasti Paste 11 by the same manufacturer.

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Next we make the second half of the mold which will have the peaks that align with the troughs. First we spray on a mold release agent onto the female mold, we use  Ease Release 200 by Mann Technologies. We then apply more of the silicon rubber to the mold which will collect in the troughs.  We repeat the process described and once we have created a rigid case in Plasti Paste we are ready to start using our mold to create waxes. The release agent allows the 2 halves of the mold to separate, we then can remove the pattern and now we have a hollow space to receive the wax.

Useful sources

https://www.smooth-on.com/

www.moldreleases.com

Colorful Door Hardware - How to Use Hot Patinas

Nature is a strong and continuous source of inspiration for our door handles and cabinet pulls so I wanted to complete this series of posts with a few pictures that illustrate this as well as providing information on how our yellow and maroon color patinas are made.

The dragonfly cabinet pull is an example of a hot chemical patina created with Sculpt Nouveau’s red and yellow dye oxide that are mixed together to create a maroon color.

To create the yellow amber tones of the butterfly we use a yellow and white dye oxide which we apply to the heated butterfly and once the desired color has been reached and after the pull has cooled down we apply small black wing markings with a  fine paint brush and a cold patina M20 product  by Birchwood Technologies.

The process for all of our hot patina finishes is the same;

Buff the bronze pull by hand or by using a buffing wheel buffing wheel and buffing disks, progressing as needed, from medium grit to fine grit disks. The disks we use are made by Standard Abrasives and made from a tough resin reinforced nylon fiber with aluminum oxide which acts as an abrasive element. Since the nylon web is un-woven it is more flexible and so will follow the contours of the bronze.

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To remove fiber particles, dust or other surface impurities we clean the piece with an air pressure hose.

Blend the liquid oxides in a non-reactive container to achieve the desired color.

Heat the pull to about 200° and apply the dye oxide blend to the areas you want to color with a very fine paint brush.

After the casting has cooled re-buff any areas that need to be re-worked or where you want to expose the golden color of the raw bronze.

Seal with a clear wax or use tinted waxes to create to add a different hue.

Sources:

www.sculptnouveau.com

www.birchwoodtechnologies.com

www.birchwoodtechnologies.com