sculptural hardware

Anatomy of a bronze door handle--Part 2

Sketch is done and details as to how the sculpture will be attached to a door, how to design it so that it can be cast to allow wax and metal to properly flow through the mold and not weigh a ton, it is time to move on to the next step. (you can review the first steps here). To make the mold for the body a pliant silicon membrane over the outside of the body and the legs has to be built-up.  At this stage you are also “gating” the mold by adding square rod sections to the body of the bird. The silicon will from a membrane around these rods and when these rods are later removed what is left is a hollow or void  through which the hot wax is poured . The mold is strengthened by being housed in a rigid metal case that keeps it true to form. Once the mold is complete it is literally cut down the middle and opened up to remove the rods and the result is a hollow replica of the birds body with funnels that have been created through which wax and later bronze can flow.

The next step is to pour  molten wax into the hollow mold through the gates and slosh it around, coating the inside of the mold with liquid wax.  When the wax is dry, the mold is carefully opened and the wax body is removed with the  gates or protrusions attached.

We now have a one piece wax bird replica that is hollow inside and we need to turn it into a bronze piece that is hollow.

Assembled wax mold with coating of priimer Martin Pierce Hardware

We cut around the birds legs and around a bit  of his stomach to create a hole in the cavity of the wax body; we are going to cast the feet, stomach and wings as separate pieces. What we are left with is 4 parts of our bird, all in wax.  Each wax piece is dipped in a clay like substance similar to the way we created the rubber mold, building up a clay slurry over each part of the bird to create a plaster like “shell” for each piece.  When dry this slurry becomes rigid and forms a casing. With the bird body we will pour the slurry inside the hollow wax body and also coat the outside of the body so that, when fired,  both the inside and outside will become a hollow ,walled shell.  These "shelled" pieces are then baked in a kiln that will make them very rigid and strong.  The heat causes the soft wax to melt out and collect at the bottom of the kiln, hence the expression "lost wax".  Actually, not really lost but rather recycled.  Even artists in ancient times recognized the value of re-using and recycling products.

All of these steps will result in a beautiful piece of functional art that can be used as a door pull to create an extraordinary entrance to a business or home, or enjoyed as wall art.  This will become evident in our final post on the sculpting and casting process for this particular piece of architectural hardware.

You can view our entire collection of custom hardware at




Gone to the dogs!

The past couple of weeks have found us taking a respite from the mountains of work and sharing with you photos and recaps of some of our "lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer". But, sadly, it is time to get back to work.  Before that we wanted to share with you another fun project: We recently celebrated a birthday (but I will not say which birthday as we do value our friendship) with our very dear friend Tracy.  As our gift to her Martin carved a sculpture of her dog Dale, who is a 3 legged wonder and her loving companion.  The gift  was a very pleasant surprise for her and one that I know she cherishes. dog sculpture in rough form Martin Pierce Hardware

If you knew Dale you would understand what a spunky and funny and loving dog he is.  And while he may be a tad challenged by having 3 legs he is an extremely agile canine and could give us two-legged humans a run for our money any day. Dale was started from one large block of wood although Martin did have to add a separate piece for the tail for, if it had it been from the same block the end grain would have made this section too fragile. The wood he chose was Alder as it is a reasonable wood to carve and it has little grain allowing Martin to paint on Dale's coloring.

Completed sculpture out of alder wood Martin Pierce Hardware

As we mentioned in an earlier post, Martin is thinking about sculpting our dog Iris.  Iris' sculpture will focus only on her head.  But just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with her body (unlike her human companions, Martin and I) as she has beautifully defined muscles and a generally athletic physique.  To begin the process Martin studies photographs that will become drawings that are then properly scaled so that they can be traced onto a block of wood.

Martin Pierce Hardware

We were wondering if any of our readers have any suggestions for a suitable wood.  We are thinking of walnut, which carves beautifully but the dark brown color will fade to a golden color over time.  Or perhaps white oak that, despite its name, is light brown in tone. We hope you enjoy our sculptures.  As you may be aware, the process of creating a sculpture and a bespoke piece of architectural hardware is quite similar.  To view our entire collection of custom hardware please visit our site at