custom hardware

Irrepressible nature and it's formidable roots

We have just returned from Quebec and wanted to share some of the non-architectural gems from the province’s national parks.

In the previous email we focused on the grandeur of the mountains and the power and beauty of Jacques-Cartier river, here we focus on the irrepressible trees that claim their space on this varied terrain.
The image below shows how the roots of a Birch tree forced their way through granite boulders and encapsulated this rock to make a weighty root bulb.

birch tree roots.jpg

Aspen and birch tree roots intertwine to create natural step edges to this path made by nature and refined by animals including the human variety.

aspen tree roots quebec Jacques Cartier Park.jpg

When visiting Kauai in December 2016 we noted how the banyan tree acts in a similar way to carve out a habitat to support it’s limbs.

Roots 2.jpg

The unruly entwined roots of the Beech trees of wind-swept Cornwall were the source of inspiration for the Hedgerow tree which is the signature piece in this organic collection of door handles. The handle pattern was carved in basswood in 4 sections with gnarled limbs and deep crevice forming the root bulb of this piece. The handle is formidable, cast with 8lbs of bronze and standing 19” high.


Gold Cabinet Pulls or Polished Bronze?


When is gold truly gold and when is it polished bronze? This is a tongue in cheek question and the answer reflects (pun intended) the high luster and jewel like appearance of polished bronze.
While we do occasionally gold plate our door hardware and while this clearly adds value to the item, for many, the appearance of gold is what is needed to create an accent to cabinetry.
Bronze is an alloy containing copper and this is what makes it a golden color. Copper and Gold are both elements on the Periodic table Cu and Au respectively and while they are both malleable and were used by early man they differ considerably in terms of scarcity and hence cost. A visit to https://www.jlab.org/ revealed that the “name Copper comes from the Latin Cuprum meaning “from the Island of Cyprus” which is where the Romans obtained the majority of their copper ore. The name gold comes from the Sanskrit word Jval and the Anglo-Saxon word gold.” Gold and bronze are both very soft mediums and in the case of silicon bronze tin and silicon are adding to copper to create a harder more durable alloy.

To create a highly polished surface the casting goes through 3 stages of progressively finer buffing;
First, we buff it using a high strength non-woven nylon disk on a mechanized buffing wheel, as the disk is not woven it is pliable and can buff irregular shapes. The material of the disk contains aluminum oxide a mineral that makes sharp very fine cuts into the surface of the bronze which helps to create consistent brush marks over the entire surface. We use a medium grit disk made by Standard Abrasives.
The piece is then hand polished using a 400-grit fine wet/dry sandpaper.
Lastly, we buff the pull on a cloth buffing wheel. Buffing compound is applied to the edge of the rotating cloth disk and when sufficiently coated the pull is pressed against the edge of the disk to create a high luster.



Dragonfly beauty with efficiency

We now have a water feature at home so Martin spends a lot of time taking shots with his zoom lens of insects that it attracts and this weekend he was able to capture 2 mating dragonflies and the resulting beginnings of their progeny.

Martin uses a 28-200mm zoom lens and the details he caught of this dragonfly couple were not fully seen until they were uploaded onto his iPad. The couple mated on the wing for a brief couple of minutes and then the female dipped her ovipositor into the pond to disperse her eggs. The speed of the mating and egg deposit took us by surprise and we are impressed by the staggering efficiency of this reproductive cycle.

When the pictures were uploaded on Martin’s iPad we could appreciate the intricate beauty of this flying red wonder. The wings look like fragile window- panes

Having mated the female hovered over the pond and selected a location to lay her eggs.

She then deposited her eggs into the pond with her ovipositor which she also used to disperse her eggs.

Click and enlarge to fully appreciate the intricate detail of these window-pane wings that we cannot see with our naked eye.

Our bronze dragonfly maybe a poor facsimile of nature but we have tried to capture as much detail as possible in our bronze cabinet knob that weighs a hefty 2 ounces and that is colored with a hot red brown patina.


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.

blue wax pattern.jpg

Post Oak Hotel -Custom Door Handles from Design to Casting

 

In an earlier piece we described how we were commissioned to make custom door handles for the landmark Post Oak Hotel. Here we give a brief preview of what is discussed in our newly created News section.

We were contacted by Gensler Architects to design handles for the shower doors for the luxury suites for the new Post Oak Hotel in downtown Houston. The handle needed to be 12” in height, round in shape, comfortable to grip and made in a durable alloy. As inspiration we were sent a photograph of a chain bracelet and Martin Pierce reinvented this as a metal braid which he sketched and used to create the first maquette.

PostOakDoorHandlered.jpg

As alternative design he sketched a piece which loosely resembled a chain of vertebrae or building blocks which he named “Segment”.

These drawings became the basis for the first patterns, molds and ultimately the prototype handles which were cast in stainless steel. For the braid handle he made 2 alternative ends, a soft rounded crown and a more contemporary flat version and it was the latter that went into full production.

Pattern making –

To create the Braid pattern Martin wove 3 stands of electrical wire into a tight braid which he used to create a simple mold so that the braid could be reproduced in resin. Seven sections of resin braid were made and individually fitted to the surface of a wooden dowel. The pattern was then tooled by hand to remove imperfections and to fill any small voids. The round ends were turned on a wood lathe. The Segment handle was assembled from different diameter dowels that Pierce cut at varying angles and then jointed to form a continuous length.

 

Too read and see more of this process please check out our News page.

 

 

Small Wine Closet Big Statement

Investing in wine is a serious venture and one that works best for those able to exercise self-control in the interest of deferred gratification.

Once the long-term commitment to wine collecting has been made the connoisseur then has to plan how to house the collection and this is where the creative challenge begins. When I think of wine collections I tend to think of lofty cellars deep in the basements of grand chateaus or perhaps grandiose Sonoma wineries and indeed our grapevine collection fits well in either setting. What I am less likely to think of is the modest interior of a hallway closet.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Faye Montgomery, a Los Angeles homeowner who was in the process of renovating a home that she and her husband had bought in West Los Angeles. When I first heard that Faye was creating a wine closet, I instinctively thought of our smaller scale vine door handle which at a more modest height of 14” works well for smaller wine rooms. However, on looking at the 30” x 80” glass door I understood why Faye was leaning toward the Ergo extended door pull a dramatic 3’ tall contemporary door grip. While the Ergo handle may not be an obvious choice, I think it is clear from the photos that this 2-toned sculptural piece works beautifully with the ceramic wall tiles that mimic hexagonal metal studs and a ceramic floor that looks like weathered walnut. Although the wine closet is small the sleek handle appears to be floating and in so doing does not over-power the wine collection which also appears air born. Taken together the 3-dimensional tiles, the angled ceramic floor and the handle create a clever illusion of timeless space.

Photo Courtesy of Faye Montgomery

Photo Courtesy of Faye Montgomery

Tiles from Spain available through Emser Tile, West Hollywood.

Luxurious Soap Dishes an Enduring Detail for Master Bathrooms

It is true to say that the subject of soap dishes is hardly the most exciting of topics for a blog, but these domestic items do deserve a mention.While this modest vessel is often a boring mundane feature in most bathrooms there are some notable exceptions.

If your taste is for semi-precious gemstones then look no further than Mike and Ally who offer a selection of bathroom accessories in lapis, amethyst and flourite. These gemstone pieces are quite unique as each is made from hewn stone and with no 2 pieces the same, this brand delivers one of a kind soap dishes with every dish having a distinctive pattern of veins and hues.

Mike and Ally also offer a range of precious metal accessories in polished and matt gold and silver.

While we do not offer our Ergo or Morphic bathroom collections with gemstone we do think they can be considered as hidden gems that will surprise and delight family members.

We usually cast these collections in 316 stainless steel a corrosion resistant and highly durable alloy which can be polished to a high luster or brushed for a satin finish or for the ultimate in sophistication, finished in two-tone polished/satin. For a warmer appearance these pieces can be cast in silicone bronze an alloy that is also corrosion resistant but one that will change color as the metal develops its own natural patina. One reason to choose soap dishes made of gemstones or cast in solid steel or bronze is that both will endure the test of time and neither will rust so can be kept as timeless gems to beautify your powder room or master bathroom.

How the Handing of A Door Can Affect the Aesthetics of Your Door Pull

How the handing of a door can affect the aesthetics of your door pull.

The handing of a door is not something you would necessarily consider when ordering your door pull or grip especially when they are to be mounted as a pair of back to back handles, but the handing does impact the security and beauty of the door handle set.


How to determine the handing of your door?

This is not hard, simply look at your door from the outside, if the hinges are on the right then your door is right handed and for a pair of back to back handles this would mean the handle on the outside would be right and left on the inside. When we are preparing a left and right grip as a back to back through bolted set, we machine the grips so that a threaded bolt can be screwed through the face of the grip that is on the inside of the door and pass through the doors core and into the threaded hole in the back of the grip on the outside.

The bolt on the inside will be counter sunk and concealed with an attractive screw cap but the handle can still be removed by unscrewing the bolt, so it is wise to have the bolt accessible only from the inside.

By comparison, the bolt on the outside handle is only screwed in sufficiently to make a strong connection, typically about ½” into the back of the pull and cannot therefore be unscrewed from the outside. Through bolting a door set makes for an easy installation and one that provides a very solid connection for your door handles. In a later piece I will compare different surface mounting techniques. In the photo of the Ergo heroic handles these have been mounted on a pair of doors (double door). From a handing perspective you have 2 doors, one is left handed, the other is right. If these had been installed with a locking mechanism, then for clarity one would call out the door that has the lock as the “operational” door.


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.

camellias-hollyowood-hills

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.

Luxury Home Bathroom Accessories

Whether it be the guests’ powder room or the master bedroom spa choosing a unique soap dish or intricately detailed towel rail can finesse to even the smallest space and can make a striking addition to even the most modest bathroom makeover.

While this custom towel rail was designed to be used in an opulent yacht setting, by choosing a nature inspired design and a more rustic bronze medium this unique towel rail is both modest and luxurious. Had this piece been rendered in polished bronze the appearance would have been garish.

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Polished towel rails and other bathroom accessories do have their place in any bathroom makeover but consider using a more sophisticated two-tone finish such as the one used below on the Ergo towel rail where the polished facets are softened by satin finished contours. The effect is labor intensive requiring  each piece to be firstly hand polished and then masked so that the contours can be subdued by hand brushing, the result though is a subtle and very tactile towel rail.

 

Our contemporary bathroom accessories in both the Ergo and Morphic collections are typically ordered in stainless steel a medium that plays well in any contemporary bathroom makeover. By comparison the more classical Hedgerow and Willow towel rails and soap dishes are used in both transitional and rustic bathrooms. That said the Ergo style can work equally well when cast in bronze and finished with an oil rubbed antique patina which gives it a more arts and crafts appearance.

Color Changing Door Handles

We have just changed our profile photo to a collage image of colored door handles taken from our Morphic and Coral styles of door hardware. Our illuminated handles began with the introduction of low voltage LED lights into our Morphic cylindrical handles. To do so we had to solve the problem of how to incorporate a hard wired LED spot into a cylindrical handle the smallest of which has a mere 1.25” internal diameter.  As the cylindrical handle is vertical and as the design is open we could not use a strip of LED lights but needed to work within the confines of a small downward projecting light with a narrow 10 lens that would center rather than diffuse the colored beam.

The cylindrical handles range from 16” to 32” in length and are available either with a single color constant voltage LED spot with built-in driver or a color changing constant current spot.

The profile collage also shows the illuminated Coral handle which is one of 3 panel style door handles These are also color changing handles but are lit using multiple diodes encapsulated in a weather proof flexible strip that fits into the inner perimeter of the handle.

Both types of door pull are made using the lost wax method of  casting and  are available in bronze or stainless steel and are UL listed.

LED Entry Door Handles - Door considerations

Our new illuminated door pulls are hard wired and not battery dependent and I was recently asked how this impacts the type of door chosen.

For some time door lock manufacturers have been making electric mortise and deadbolt locks that can be powered by low voltage wires that release either the bolt or the strike and often this is done by a remote controller.

Our illuminated door handles have the same needs and require;

Power to be supplied to the door

One of the easiest methods of supplying power to the door is through an electric door hinge.  Power coming from a low voltage class 2 power supply is delivered to the door jamb into the fixed section of the hinge. The wires then pass through the knuckle or center section of the hinge and on to the operative part of the hinge which is attached to the door itself and which pivots the door open.  Electric hinges have the advantage of concealing the wires used to power door handles and locks and most can be ordered for these low voltage applications.

 

A concealed door loop like the one by Command Access is a low profile alternative to the electric hinge and one that can be freely positioned anywhere on the jamb. While its unobtrusive design and size make it attractive you will still need a hinge to open and close the door. If you are looking for an equally discreet electric hinge you may want to consider the hinge options from Simonswerk.com who offer some very sleek concealed hinges that function in the same way as the surface mounted version but are recessed and flush with both the door jamb and door edge. These hinges will require a reasonably solid outer door edge that can be routed out for the hinge plate.

Off course the power can always be supplied  through a surface mounted conduit or metal arm which may be an option for commercial projects or areas where the reverse side of an entry door is less visible.

Hollow area for power channel

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 To power the LED handle the wires from the handle will have to be routed through the door and connected to the power that is being delivered to the door jamb.  Provided the door has a hollow frame this should be relatively easy as the cables are small 22 gauge wires and can be fed through a channel in the door frame.  The top and bottom door rails for hollow metal doors will often have a separate cover that can be attached after the wire conduit has been fed through.

Impact on Door Design

In summary your door will need to have a hollow outer frame or pre-made channel designed into the construction so that cables can be fed through to the illuminated handle.  The channel can easily be incorporated into the construction design of the door and major door manufactures are already doing this so that the consumer can remotely open and lock the entry door using a remote controller to activate an electrically powered lock.

Ergonomic Hardware Adapted to Individual Needs

While there is a reasonable amount of door hardware that meets the legal requirements of the ADA it is often challenging to find artistic door handles that satisfy both the artistic and physical needs of any one client and their designer.

The Ergo collection derives its name from the adjective “ergonomic” being a design that is optimized for easy use in the workplace and when it was created, Martin Pierce developed a left and right knob and lever design with suitable cut outs and indentations that could be easily gripped by a left handed or right handed person. The style has evolved over time with modifications being made to slim down the lever for more universal comfort.

Though the Ergo series is ergonomic, not all pieces are ADA suitable. As we grow older our physical needs and challenges multiply but not in a homogeneous way so a generic approach to making hardware ADA compliant is no guarantee that the adapted hardware will work for all. Enter a skilled and sensitive designer versatile in specifying custom door hardware like Lambrino Christoff of Barton G Design. With Lambrino’ s input we recently re-designed our Ergo epic cabinet pull by scooping out the back to make a hollow that could easily be gripped using ones index and middle finger. See the image below showing the evolution of this piece, the middle picture shows the custom piece and the top and bottom pictures show the first and most recent cabinet pull in this collection.

 

For other designers we have modified our Ergo cabinet pull making the mounting posts taller thereby creating more space between the cabinet face and underside of the pull that can be gripped by several fingers together.

 

 

Leaf Designs in Door Hardware

The creative process is as unique and unfathomable as the brain it resides in. When I have listened to authors and composers answering the question of where and how they get their inspiration there appears to be a myriad of sources.  The same holds true when it comes to designing door hardware  and  Martin Pierce’s designs reflect the eclectic nature of his source material ranging from oceanic shapes to tree bark and bird wings to name just a few.

As a result,  Martin always has a sketch book on hand to doodle in his designs as they occur to him but a large number of his designs also come  from a more structured and practical need either to  develop additional pieces for a popular collection or to meet a designer’s need for a specific project.

 Not all of the designs make it off the drawing board and indeed I would hazard a guess that less than 10% make the leap.  When designing a new piece there can be as many as 4 or more alternatives that materialize on paper and if the project is commissioned by a designer then alternative concepts can be useful in hammering out practical site issues or scale questions.

We keep all of these sketches as source material for future designs and this is how I came across some of the leaf designs shown here. The Willow door pull came from a need to create a flush pull and resulted in 3 designs one of which is currently in used in Willow collection.

The leaf hinge design is still in the design stage where it will remain until we have sufficient hinge designs to complement our other collections.

The Vine collection is a popular series and the new leaf and grape design shown here is already taking shape as a sculpted wooden pattern.

Grape door knob concept.jpg

Creating Custom Door Hardware Using The Lost Wax Method of Casting

Limited Edition Custom Handle Commission in Bronze

Limited Edition Custom Handle Commission in Bronze

We are frequently asked to make one of a kind door handles for designers looking for a statement piece for a restaurant or retail project or corporations looking to expand their brand presence. The requests we receive can be challenging and some, such as a request for rotating human hand, border on the bizarre.

As a company we do a lot of custom casting but  the process we use to create our work is costly and does not lend itself to value engineering. The focus of this article is to outline the process with the aid of photographs taken during the  creation of a wine cellar door handle, commissioned by a client as a limited edition.

As designers we truly respect the creative process and understand the time that goes into creating a unique piece and accordingly will only work on projects that are free from plagiarism.

The Process – step by step

1.        Concept drawing(s) often several form the starting point to a dialogue where we establish the size of the handle, whether it needs to operate a latch or is to be used as a stationary grip.

2.        Perspective drawings are detailed drawings that show the client how the piece will look when viewed from different vantage points. We need to understand if the piece is being viewed from all sides as it would be if used as a grip mounted on a glass door. How the piece is to be mounted either by through bolts or surface screws will need to be decided and drawn.

Pattern Development

A three dimensional pattern is created in wood or if the piece is small, typically less than 3”, then in solid wax. At this point 3D printing is slow and  expensive but it can be useful if one is creating a mirror image of a simple shape especially when the shape is symmetrical. We used 3D printing when creating the simple gourd shape for our Dragon Egg Sconce.

For larger detailed and organic pieces Martin Pierce carves the pattern by hand. He uses a reductive approach to whittle down his over-sized block of wood to create the pattern. Other pattern makers use an additive approach and they create the pattern by adding and forming pieces of clay. In our case study the design required 4 patterns to be carved, a left and right facing waiter and their two goblets. The patterns took many hours to create but by carving the pieces with an array of different chisels Martin could create a very detailed fine pattern and one whose details could be captured in bronze.

pattern-later-stage

Mold Making

Each pattern requires a mold and if the piece has a lot of undercuts it may require a 2 piece mold. In this instance we developed a total of 4  two -piece molds each one made to encapsulate one of the 4 patterns. The molds are made from building up successive layers of silicone rubber that pick up the fine detail of the pattern. The pliable nature of the rubber is then reinforced by an outer casing made of plaster or metal which holds the 2 parts of the mold in place so that they can withstand the pressure applied when molten wax is injected into the cavity. The cavity is created when the pattern is removed from the mold and to make this easier the pattern is coated with a release agent before the rubber is applied.

Casting – what is meant by lost wax?

For every piece we cast in bronze, we first make a wax replica by pouring molten wax into the cavity of the mold. Theoretically these replicas could be 3 D printed but at this point the process is slow and expensive. Depending on the size and cooling time it is possible to make multiple waxes in a short period of time. At this point the channels that will be needed to supply the molten metal and those that are needed to vent the air created by flowing metal are added in the form of sprues and gates.

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The wax replicas are then “shelled” and dipped into successive coats of liquid silica to build up a thick outer shell. If the shell wall is not sufficiently thick then it may well fail when the bronze is eventually poured. For large castings the shelling process can take weeks but it is a critical step that determines the success of the casing.

After the wax has been shelled the wax will be removed in an autoclave steamer that essentially steams or heats up the solid shell so that the wax is evacuated or “lost”.

 The hollow shell or ceramic case is then fired and is ready to receive the molten bronze. Once the casting has cooled all the sprues and gates will be ground off and the casting will be groomed with metal files to remove any casting imperfections.

Chasing and machining the casting

Chasing and machining the casting

The casting will then be machined for mounting bolts, latches or other locks  that it will be used with.    

The casting is then ready to be finished. In our case study we applied 3 different types of chemical patina and re-burnished key areas so we could delineate the writing on the goblet and the waistcoat buttons on the waiter’s jackets.

Organic Inspiration for LED Wall Sconces

We have named our recent wall sconce Dragon Egg as we were riveted by the special effects and scenery of this show but this was a tongue in cheek naming and while the gourd shape may be egg like the texture of the piece is not. The custom sconce started life in Martin’s sketch book and went through several design modifications before being created as a three dimensional piece.

In this and in the next few posts we will be looking at how our new LED wall sconces and illuminated door handles came to life.

The Dragon Egg sconce took its direction and feel from our Morphic custom door handle collection, which was based on coral and other oceanic forms. Martin began the design by deciding the overall shape and settled on the gourd. He then focused on the characteristics of the open area and moved away from geometric shapes to a more random and sinewy look.

The LED spot shines down through this open area and creates a beautiful fragmented light that you will be able to see soon to our upcoming sconce video.

How did we then make the pattern and subsequent castings?

From the design shown in item 4. below a full scaled drawing of the gourd was created and a large 20” cube of alder was slabbed together and glued to create the “blank” for the pattern.

The blank was then turned on a wood lathe to create the gourd shape. As a wood carver and turner it is easier for Martin to create patterns using these older skills then to digitally create a 3D model. However from this stage onwards we worked using 3D printing technology in conjunction  with carving to create the final pattern below. The initial alder gourd was scanned and then its surface area was mapped digitally. The programmer then digitally hollowed out the interior of the gourd shape leaving a wall thickness of 3/16” and went on to print this as a resin model. Martin then drew his sinewy design onto the resin gourd and using a dremel tool followed the contours of the sinews and ground through the resin wall to create open areas for the light to pass.

Wall Sconce Drawings Copyright Martin Pierce

Wall Sconce Drawings Copyright Martin Pierce

 

Before the advent of 3D printers, Martin would have created the hollow gourd from solid wood and the inner material would have been carved out using a variety of hand chisels. While 3D printing is a big aid to pattern making, carving is still Martin’s preferred technique for complicated irregular shapes and for adding design details as these can often change as the pattern is developed.

Left: Printed one half of the hollow resin gourd        Right: Gourd sculpted by hand

Left: Printed one half of the hollow resin gourd        Right: Gourd sculpted by hand

Choosing Cabinet Pulls for Christmas Ornaments

While we make all of our unique cabinet pulls to order, some of our designer clients plan ahead and use  our unusual cabinet knobs as a special Christmas gift or even as stocking fillers. The pieces shown here have been used in this way and we also have been known to use the smaller items on Christmas Day when sharing the Secret Santa game with our neighbors and friends.

The pieces that are most often ordered tend to be our nature inspired pulls as well as our animal and insect pulls and our polished left and right frogs as well as lizard pulls top the list as best sellers at this time of the year. These pieces in particular do have a jewel like quality that fits the holiday mood and indeed  were  ordered by Candy & Candy in plated silver for a London residence.  The pieces were first cast in bronze and then electro plated with nickel to act as a barrier metal before being silver plated. Plating is a highly skilled profession and we are fortunate to work in Los Angeles where we have some of the finest platers including the renowned Boyles Synder who have been silver plating family heirlooms for  over 80 years and who can still be reached the old school way at tel: (323) 663-5363

unusual cabinet knobs

We have also used our leaf cabinet pulls as a decorative detail this year to create a festive wreath for our digital Christmas Card which we recently posted.

Trees That Inspire Door Handles

Not all trees lend themselves or rather bend themselves to work as luxury door handles so when creating a tree door handle we use considerable artistic license.  With our Hedgerow design we blended several different trees and tree parts. Which trees inspired us? I am reluctant to name any one tree in part because this iconic design reminds different designers of different trees but also because the design came from Martin’s imagination and not from studying any particular tree. So, if the handle reminds you of a California Cypress or gnarly wild oak or even of a Bunyan tree, then you are right.

We are in the process of adding different finishes to the Hedgerow tree and as you may know from previous posts are also developing a new tree design which if all goes well will be lit with interior LED diodes, so please do follow our post for progress reports. As with the Hedgerow heroic handle, while the new design is instantly recognizable as a tree the family it belongs to is imaginary.

The canopy of the Hedgerow tree shown above flows from the trunk of the tree and it is pitched and so that the back of the canopy lies flat and flush to the front of the door. The tree handle is attached to the door by through bolts that screw from the inside of the door into the back of the canopy.

The gnarly Bunyan reminiscent roots also flow from the trunk and similarly have a flat back where another though bolt supports the hefty handle that is cast from 10lbs of solid bronze.

Banyan tree roots inspiration for Hedgerow Pull mounting point

Banyan tree roots inspiration for Hedgerow Pull mounting point

HAPPY HALLOWEEN TO BAT LOVERS

As many of you know Martin loves reptiles and insects but he also loves mammals and this extends to bats which are found in his collection of animal cabinet pulls.

For some reason I do not think of bats as mammals and see them as flying rodents and indeed if you look at many bats they do appear to be rats with leathery wings.

When Martin and I were in Belize several years ago we stayed at the luxurious Blancaneaux Lodge, a Coppola resort and took a guided excursion by canoe to Barton Creek Cave. The ancient Maya once used this cave as a burial site and the interior is filled with spectacular stalactites and stalagmites and a thriving bat colony.The ceiling of the cave was fairly low so with our head held flash lights we could see the fine details of the bat faces and their fury bodies as they hung from the cave ceiling in clusters. 

More recently, in Paso Robles, in the hot month of August with the doors open to cool the house a large bat with a 16" wing span flew into our bedroom. After much flapping the bat tired and so Martin was able to carefully hold the bat by its wings and emboldened by his action I stroked the incredible downy coat of its fur and touched the soft fine translucent leathery skin of its wings. Respecting the bats right to peace we turned all the house lights off and released him back to the night. For those bat lovers out there is a great YouTube page where you can see a bat rescue center in Australia with some adorable bat videos.

 

What To Consider When Choosing Door Handles For A Home Renovation

A lot will depend on how you are planning to use the door handles, questions you may want to consider;

1.     How many doors are you planning to re-furbish - is this a statement piece for an entry door or are there several doors where you will be using the same style of design?

2.     How eclectic are you? Do you like to continue a particular style through the entire home or do you like to mix and match styles?

3.     Is the door exterior or interior - if an exterior door, is it protected from the elements or will it be exposed to rain, snow or sea spray as these will contribute to the corrosion and rust of the handle. While bronze does not rust, it will over time develop a patina and is often referred to as a “living finish”. Stainless steel is corrosion resistant and while not rust proof, 316 stainless steel is the preferred alloy for coastal properties exposed to sea water.

4.     Does the door need to lock - and does the door handle manufacturer provide the handles you are considering for all types of function from locking front and privacy doors to non-operating "dummy" handles that are typically fixed and often used to complete the symmetry for example of double doors where one handle operates to open and close the door and the “dummy” handle is used more as a grip or pull.

5.     Are there special needs - to consider making it important that the door handle be easy to grip and that levers not be too heavy to depress

6.     Are your doors unusual -  are they extremely deep or shallow, bare in mind that a typical door in the US is 1 3/4" to 2" thick and while many handles can accommodate other depths, the manufacturer may have an up charge to create shorter or longer spindles or through bolts.

7.     Unforeseen charges to consider -  the  lock is often not included in the cost of the door set but this varies with manufacturer, for example  we do include the costs for tubular latches but not the cost of the mortise lock made by Accurate.  The installation of a door set, particularly one that locks, will need to installed either by a contractor or locksmith.