artistic door knobs

Are Contemporary Door Handles also Modern Door Handles - untangling semantics

Being a product of the 50’s and later being influenced by the 1960’s mod culture I have often used the adjectives modern and contemporary interchangeably and see that many search engines also assume these terms are synonymous.

Various dictionaries define contemporary as meaning to live or be from the same time so clearly the word can be used to describe past periods as in “Gaudi and Mackintosh were contemporary architects”. By comparison the word modern is defined as being in the present or in recent times and does not have the historical breadth as the word contemporary. That said, social trends and common usage may have the biggest impact on a word’s meaning and while the word modern was, in the 1960’s understood to mean to fashionable or hip, the word now seems a little dated. Lately I find myself describing my Martin’s designs as futuristic which is not surprising given his fondness for sci-fi. So, when you look at these pictures of our work use whatever term you think fits!”

The Morphic serpentine door pulls when cast in stainless steel do appear a little alien and while the first film in the alien series is one that Martin has seen countless times the lead alien was not a model for this pull.

Perhaps the offspring of the alien may have had a more direct impact on the Morphic door knob.

Thankfully the more “modern” Ergo lever has it’s roots in the art nouveau period.




Mixing it up with Bee Door Knobs and their Lizard Friends

The nature inspired Netsuke door handle collection was not conceived as an interchangeable series, but thankfully creative interior designers have conjured up imaginative ways to use these as combination door handle sets. Case in point is a recent project where the bee door knob was paired with the lizard door knob to create a whimsical statement. The sets were specified in polished bronze to create a stunning jewel like set for a custom makeover of the master bedroom and bathroom. The bathroom privacy set used a simple push-pin latch on the honey comb side with a discreet emergency release on the bark rose side of the door (exterior).

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Our door handle knob sets are connected with a square 8mm spindle that is attached to each knob with a set screw or Allen screw. As we use the same type of spindle for all our door knobs most of the knobs are interchangeable. Since other door hardware manufactures use different spindles and methods of attachment our knobs may not be suited as half sets with knobs supplied by others.

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The Netsuke collection comprises 4 interchangeable animal knobs including a rabbit, frog, bee and lizard making them popular choices for children’s bedrooms. While whimsical in nature, these animal knobs are finely detailed and cast in solid bronze with each knob using a lb. of molten bronze.

As a transitional set that bridges the classical with whimsical you may want to consider the Hedgerow and Willow knob on the more public exterior side of your door with a Netsuke knob on the more private interior side.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 is in the Air

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Our Netsuke rabbit door knob is taking a break from vegetables and has turned her appetite towards chocolate eggs that seem to be in abundance at this time of the year. So, we hope you will take a leaf out of her book, yes the pun is intended and turn your appetite towards chocolate Easter eggs or maybe some hot cross buns or other delicacy enjoyed at this time of the year.

From us here to you there have a good Easter.

Christmas Gift Ideas and the Need to Plan Ahead

At this time of year we often receive calls from parents trying to find the perfect gift for their child’s bedroom and so we wanted to share with you some of the choices people have made.

 Rabbit Door knob                                                             Willow Door Knob

Rabbit Door knob                                                             Willow Door Knob

We are currently making a rabbit passageway set for a Santa delivery in New Hampshire. Thankfully Santa enlisted some advice from a local door and lock installer who helped with tricky issues like dealing with a very old and thin door. The installer understood that a narrow 1 1/4” thick door may be a problem for the latch mechanism as the tongue of the latch in this case was 1” but being a skilled professional he felt that with Santa’s good cheer he would be able make a hole in the door with a 1/8” to spare on either side of the latch. Phew, Santa was wise to plan ahead!

Of course there is nothing wrong in a little self-gifting but the adage always plan ahead is equally true. In this instance, as Santa was not involved, the home owner asked for our help in deciding what to order to replace her old very dilapidated kitchen and dining room door knobs. The doors did not have latches but were held shut by a roller catch or closet door ball catch at the top of the door.  The customer did not want to change the catch so we steered her towards dummy knobs that could be attached on each side of the door by screwing through the knob plate into the door, a low tech but good way of adding beautiful knobs to her kitchen and dining room doors.

 

 

Why do Door Knobs and Door Levers use similar but different latches

Deciding whether to use a decorative knob or decorative door lever is partly an aesthetic choice and partly a practical and ergonomic decision. The aesthetic part is self-explanatory and we offer all of our door handles as either round contained knobs or more expansive flowing levers.

The other deciding factor is the user’s ability to easily grip and turn a knob. A lever is by its design easier to use for those with physical challenges and this brings us to discussing the latch mechanism.

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Difference between the latch mechanism for passageway  knobs and levers

The tubular latch used to operate a passageway lever has a stronger spring that serves to return the lever to a horizontal position. The latch can also only operate the passageway lever one way, so one depresses it to release the tongue of the latch but you cannot lift the lever to retract the latch. The lever can be depressed with minimal dexterity and precision making it a better candidate for ADA compliance.

By comparison, a knob latch can be turned in 2 directions clockwise and anti-clockwise to retract the latch tongue but gripping and turning the knob does place some torque on ones wrist as well as requiring dexterous fingers for gripping. The spring used to return the knob to its resting point is weaker as knobs are typically lighter in weight than their counterpart levers.

 

New Grapevine Door Knob Added to Wine Cellar Door Handle Collection

Our grapevine door handle collection has, until now, focused on capturing the gnarly quality of vine stems and the distinctive serrated shape of their leaves, with less attention on the grapes themselves.  This focus worked well for creating long door grips and horizontal door levers but was not well suited for a door knob.  

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With this in mind, we began work on a new vine door knob and in our July 12th post  shared with you how Martin Pierce created detailed  perspective drawings as guidelines for his 3 dimensional wood pattern. The pattern was carved in basswood, sealed with primer and used to create a 2 piece hollow core mold. Red wax was poured into the mold and several wax replicas were made. The wax facsimiles were then coated with successive layers of fine ceramic slurry to form an outer wall and the pieces  were baked to form a rigid ceramic shell.  Once baked, the ceramic shells were  heated in a de-waxing  autoclave and steam was  pumped into the shell to remove the wax. The wax was then  filtered, cleaned  and  recycled for future use. The de-waxed shell was subsequently invested with molten bronze and after cooling, the gates that delivered the fluid metal were ground away and the bronze casting was ready to “chased” or refined by hand.

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Seven weeks later and we have now machined our first castings, added the spindle and  internal springs, fitted our existing vine leaf back-plate and finished by hand our first pieces.  We hope you like this new addition to the collection.

 

Bees - The Perfect Door Knob for Your Children's Bedroom

Following on with our nature theme I wanted to share a photo I took of a small swarm of bee door knobs. The bumble bee door knob is one of 4 members of the netsuke series, a collection that takes its name from the toggles that were used thorough out the centuries as compact buttons or fastener both in clothing and in luggage.

The frogs, lizards, rabbits and bees that make up this collection are often ordered as individual sets for children’s bedrooms but occasionally multiples are ordered to add a whimsical element to a commercial setting, as was the case with this swarm.

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The bee that served as a model for this piece is the black bee or carpenter bee that we see here in southern California and that we first came across when travelling in Greece. We were captivated by its intense black shiny wing casings and abdomen and by its passive bumbling behavior. The honey comb back plate is a case for artistic license as this is not a honey creating bee of the social hive variety but a solitary nectar feeding bee that loves the nectar of honey suckle, wisteria, morning glory and other flowering plants. While the bee is able to use its proboscis to suck nectar from flowers with suitable trumpet shapes, if the fit is less than perfect it will cut the flower to access the nectar, or as we have seen in our garden, take full advantage of existing tares made by the voracious feeding activity of humming birds and their deep reaching beaks.

 Carpenter bee finds wisteria a good source for nectar

Carpenter bee finds wisteria a good source for nectar

Cast in solid bronze, these pieces are wonderfulto hold and their smooth substantial weight fits nicely in one’s palm.