baroque door handles

Creating a custom door knob using old world methods

We have in the past discussed the pros and cons of using 3d printing in the casting process and return to this topic to describe our most recent commission. The willow door knob was featured in the last post and coincidentally it is this piece that inspired the current work. While it is technically a door knob it’s scale is regal and it was designed to take center stage as a dramatic door statement. When first designed the piece was intended to be used as non-operative pull that would be used to open an entry door but with a separate thumb latch trim operating the door latch as is shown in the photo.

In European doors particularly in the baroque period such grand knobs often fully functioned to open and close the door and a local artisan would fabricate a mortise latch for a very deep back-set to reach the center of the door. With this in mind the second Willow knob was designed in 2 pieces with the knob being separate from the back-plate and mounted on a spindle that can be rotated to activate the door latch.

The current commission uses the same concept but the style of knob is simpler with no filigree and is designed for a less ornate setting. The Willow knob being elliptical and with many layers of filigree was carved over a period of weeks. Our commissioned knob needs to be made from design to delivery in 10 weeks and will be cast in stainless steel. As the piece is symmetrical circular and as we have a great pool of lathe artisans in Los Angeles we have found that it is faster to slab up a block of wood and have it turned on a manual lathe rather than 3d printed.



Baroque carving a training ground for nature inspired door handles

The Willow collection of custom door handles in part owes its existence to Martin Pierce’s early training as a wood carver. On leaving school at 16 he served an apprenticeship as wood carver and finisher and spent countless hours carving acanthus leaves, oak leaves and acorns as decorations for reproduction baroque furniture. The training was invaluable in developing carving and drawing skills and for focusing his awareness on leaf styles and movement in nature.

As a free-lance wood carver, Martin was able to reflect nature in a less stylized manner and he began sculpting trees and leaves with more fluid lines. As an antique reproduction carver Martin’s work was limited by the formality of each period he was copying. As a hardware designer and pattern maker his work is now constrained by the practical needs imposed by door hardware. In this composite shot you can see how the same willow leaves have been sculpted to act as small tight easy to hold knob for door bolts and how the same leaves have been carved as a looser vortex of flowing leaves to make a large entry door knob whose purpose is largely decorative.

The pattern for the center of the Willow leaf vortex  was carved in basswood and then painted with a grey primer to conceal the grain and pores of the wood and too create a smooth surface for reproduction in wax (red image). The wax replica is made by creating a mold from the pattern and it is approximately 4% smaller than the pattern.

Willow Pattern vortex.jpg