Dreams really do come true–a trip to the land of Gaudi

Sagrada Familia by Gaudi located in Barcelona Spain courtesy of wikipedia

Perhaps his most famous work, still uncompleted, is the Sagrada Familia by Gaudi located in Barcelona Spain courtesy of wikipedia

We are about to embark on the dream vacation of a life-time.  We are off to Spain where we will be paying homage to famed architect Antoni Gaudi.  This will include visits to as many of his avante-garde buildings as we can comfortably fit in during our stay.

Part of the Modernista movement, Gaudi’s work was heavily influenced by his personal life that included a love of architecture, nature and his strong Catholic faith.  Unique crafts such as ceramics, wrought iron, stained glass and woodwork were integrated into his architecture, complimenting both gothic and art nouveau forms.  In my opinion, this gave his work a lovely, comic touch.  There are very few architects/designers who manage to make me smile, but his work certainly does.

Stained glass embellishments at Casa Battlo Barcelona Spain

Stained glass embellishments at Casa Battlo Barcelona Spain

As you may know the Art Nouveau movement has been, for Martin, one of his major sources of inspiration.  His fondness for the works of Hector Guimard, Emile Galle and Victor Horta have been mentioned over the years. That said, while Gaudi’s work is often described as being part of this movement it really stands alone as singularly daring in its artistic scope and complex execution.

The places we have chosen to visit are:

La Familia Sagrada — seen in the photo above, this famous ongoing project is one that no one seems sure when it will be completed, although it is currently scheduled for completion in 2026 which will mark the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.

Colonia Guell and Crypt– where we will see the crypt, church and research lab that is service to the craftsman working on La Familia Sagrada

Parc Guell – the site originally designed as a type of planned community for the wealthy 

Casa Batllo–  magnificent Battlo family residence that showcases Gaudi’s use of the ornamental trades for both form and function.  For example, wrought iron was used to create stair railings that are also structurally supportive; whimsical stained glass windows filter the harsh sunlight and animal forms make an appearance and play a prominent role in the overall design of the building.  

From Barcelona we will be travelling southwest to Granada for a week and being treated to even more unusual architecture including the Alhambra.  Here we hope to spend quite a bit of our time being inspired by the ancient Arabic inscriptions and incredible details.  We look forward to sharing details of our trip with all of you.

You can view our entire collection of architectural and custom hardware at http://www.martinpierce.com.

 

 

 

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Iris has a new friend- Part 4 and final reveal

Whew!  As you can tell from the previous posts, this is a time consuming project that requires quite a bit of detail to get it just right.

When we last left you Martin had begun the process of carving the details of Iris’ ears, head etc. and we shared the tools that he uses to create these details.

Carving tools Martin Pierce Hardware

Carving tools
Martin Pierce Hardware

The next step is perhaps the most important, capturing the very essence of Iris in the uniqueness of her facial expressions, beauty marks etc.  As with all dogs, the brow is where we see a lot of their comical and quizzical expressions and Iris has quite lovely frown lines. Martin  began carving these with a fine gauge to create a deep furrow.  He then employed a “V” chisel to create acute sides to the frown furrow and, lastly, he used a reverse gouge to soften the tops of the frown lines.

Iris bust complete Martin Pierce Hardware

Iris bust complete
Martin Pierce Hardware

Next came the pores where her whiskers were created with a fine veiner that was used to make shallow but well defined indentations. That left her beauty moles.  If you look closely you can see one of these moles just behind her “smile”.  Martin approached these as if he were making a miniature “sand castle” i.e. the surrounding wood is scooped out leaving a raised mound.

Completed bust Martin Pierce Hardware

Completed bust
Martin Pierce Hardware

Sanding the entire piece was the next step.  Martin began with an orbital sander using 120 grit paper and then sanding by hand with 120 and finer 150 grit paper.  Finally, he used medium and fine scotchbrite sheets to give her a really smooth appearance.

The bust was finished with oil and clear wax and no lacquer. The oil, especially, is responsible for bringing out the differences in grain color and in making the figuring of the walnut even more beautiful.

Over time and with exposure to the sun this bust will become a gorgeous golden brown and will look very close to Iris’ actual color. We are probably going to cast this in bronze and, if so, will offer it in a limited edition.  Our only reservation is that we both like the effect in wood and want it to stay at home as we are all (including Iris who thinks it is a friend) enjoying it so much.

It all began with this photo:

Martin Pierce Hardware

Martin Pierce Hardware

And ended with this beautiful hand-carved sculpture:

Martin Pierce Hardware

Martin Pierce Hardware

What do you think?  Did we capture her?

If you would like to view our entire collection of architectural and custom hardware, visit our site at http://www.martinpierce.com.

 

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Iris has a new friend-part 3 rough carving

The next step in this journey of the heart is the rough carving.  You can bring yourself up to date and review steps 1 and 2 by clicking here.

Martin will typically draw bold lines on the surface of the wood he is carving to map out where to remove wood to create the desired shape and depth.  He gathers his carving tools together which includes a mallet and 2 scooped chisels, as well as a pencil.  You can see these tools in the photo below.

carving tools Martin Pierce Hardware

carving tools
Martin Pierce Hardware

rough carving

rough carving  Note the carving chisels and mallet in use

Carving is a reductive technique where you start with large, wide and deep gouging chisels to quickly  remove wood and then move to the smaller flat chisels.  The mallet is used to add power to the chisel.  Martin also uses the thick area of flesh on his palms to hit the chisel as you can achieve greater control in any tricky areas with this method.  The wood we chose for this sculpture, walnut, is a hard, dense wood so it takes a lot of force to  carve it.

beginning bust

beginning bust profile

Martin began this stage of carving by focusing on the ears.  He removed wood from underneath the ear to capture the delicacy and expressive quality of Iris’s ears.  This was tricky but he used fine veining chisels to create crevices and a small spoon gouge chisel to hollow out the ears.

In the final installment of this series we we will share with you how the defining details were created to capture the true essence of Iris’ personality and debut the finished product.

To view our collection of architectural hardware and custom furniture, please visit our site at http://www.martinpierce.com

 

 

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Iris has a new friend Part 2-gluing

We last left you with the beginnings of a sculpture of our dog, Iris’, head.  We shared the process of sketching an idea, deciding on a wood type and tracing the pattern onto the wood.

The next step is the gluing and roughing out the actual shape of the bust.  To begin with Martin cut out the profile on 4 pieces of wood using the paper template from the originial sketch.

Mahogany pieces glued together with rough cut of profile Martin Pierce Hardware

Mahogany pieces glued together with rough cut of profile
Martin Pierce Hardware

For this he used a bandsaw which, as any hobbyist will know, is a saw that uses a band of metal teeth to cut through the wood.  The “bands” vary with each machine and they also vary in terms of how course or fine the cut line needs to be.  For this bust we used a medium band that was 155″ long, 3/4″ wide and with 4 “teeth per inch.

Martin Pierce hardware

Martin Pierce hardware

We jointed the sections of wood with a polyurethane glue made in the Netherlands by Rectavit and sold in the United States as Structan.  We have used this glue for many years now as it is not as brittle as typical wood glue.  Since it is somewhat pliant it allows slight movement in the wood to take place.  Other glues may form a tough and brittle bond so that any movement in the wood can result in splitting or cracking.  You may be asking why wood moves.  The answer is that wood is actually a living thing and will expand with moisture and high humidity and contract with heat or very low humidity.

Martin Pierce Hardware

Martin Pierce Hardware

In this next photo you can see the rough sculpture all glued together.  Notice the paper template next to it which was used in the creation of this sculpture.

martin pierce iris bust with paper template next to it

We are getting closer to sharing the final sculpture with you and we are sure you will be as delighted as we are with the beauty of the wood and the fine detail of Iris’ impressive profile.  Iris still thinks it is a new friend and wags her tail when she sees it.

To view our entire collection of architectural hardware or to discuss custom pieces for your next hospitality project, please visit our site at http://www.martinpierce.com.

 

 

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Iris has a new friend-Part 1

We recently shared a post about a dog sculpture we made as a birthday gift for a dear friend of ours that represented her amazing three legged dog.  At the same time we mentioned that we had been contemplating doing a bust of our beloved Iris for our own enjoyment.  Well, one thought led to another and the design process began:

As with all of our custom hardware pieces, the design process begins with a drawing. Unlike her predecessor, Brie, Iris is not want to sit still and pose so Martin was able to create a video and, along with the photographs, he was able to capture her sweet nature in his detailed drawing of Iris’ impressive head.

Martin Pierce Hardware

Martin Pierce Hardware.

This was done on tracing paper which allowed Martin to roughly mark up the outline on each of the 4 pieces of walnut that would become the main section of her head.

Martin Pierce Hardware

Martin Pierce Hardware

The other decision we had to make was what type of wood would best suit this sculpture. We decided on walnut as we found a nice board.  We cut it up and essentially created a rough block with 4 major joints and 2 very small additional joints for the ears. The ears were made from one block of wood cut in half so basically 5 pieces of walnut. The walnut was 8/4 walnut or 2″ thick.  As many of our readers know, raw wood used in furniture is bought and measured by the board foot and the thickness of wood is expressed as a fraction e.g. 6/4 being 1 ½”.  The board thickness is calculated by the width and length of board e.g. 8/4 x1’ x 8’ = 16  board feet.  If the thickness was 4/4 (i.e. 1”)  the calculation would be 4/4 x 1’ x 8’ = 8 bd ft.  Welcome back to algebra class!

We have been referring to this piece as “Iris’ brother”, in part because the sculpture is a tad larger than life size.  Oddly enough, Iris seems to recognize it as a dog’s head as she wags her tail and sniffs it every time she walks by.

Join us for part 2 of the story of Iris’ bust to see how five blocks of wood become a life-like version of our dog’s head.

To discuss your own custom piece or to view our entire collection of custom architectural hardware, please visit our site at http://www.martinpierce.com.

 

 

 

 

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Custom hardware Hawaiian style

I have just one question for you—does this look like some place you would like to be right now?

Photo courtesy of Debbie Zylstra Martin Pierce Hardware

Photo courtesy of Debbie Zylstra
Martin Pierce Hardware

This photo was sent to us by Deborah Zylstra of Zylstra Interiors.  You may recall from previous posts, we worked with her on selecting and developing just the right custom hardware that enhanced the design and style of the residence but also celebrated the incredible natural surroundings and Hawaiian culture.

Hawaiian bird knob from the Hawaiian custom hardware collection of Martin Pierce hardware

Hawaiian bird knob from the Hawaiian custom hardware collection of Martin Pierce hardware

In this close-up of the impressive entry doors you can see the cylindrical door pull from our Morphic collection, made even more special cast, per Debbie’s request, in white bronze.  When we saw this picture we initially thought the gardens beyond had been photoshopped into the photo when, in actuality, they are real.  That is a view I would never tire of!

Photo by Zylstra Interiors Martin Pierce Custom Hardware

Photo by Zylstra Interiors
Martin Pierce Custom Hardware

This door is obviously custom made but what makes it even more amazing is that if you look closely you will see that there is some lovely mahogany burl in the panels.  Simply beautiful!

You can view the Morphic collection or our entire selection of architectural hardware by visiting our site at http://www.martinpierce.com.

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Leaves are falling at Martin Pierce

Even in sunny southern California we can feel subtle seasonal changes, especially during the fall season.  The days get shorter and the return of the marine layer adds a slight chill to the air.  We never tire of witnessing Mother Nature’s changes as fall flowers bloom and the trees begin to drop their leaves.  It provides the perfect opportunity for us to showcase our elegant and finely detailed leaf hardware that will add just a hint of nature to your residential and hospitality design projects.

From sycamore to oak to a delicate pear leaf, our Flora collection offers many nature inspired cabinet and drawer pulls.

Oak leaf drawer pull available at Martin Pierce Hardware

Oak leaf drawer pull available at
Martin Pierce Hardware

sycamore leaf pull available at Martin Pierce Hardware

sycamore leaf pull available at Martin Pierce Hardware

pear leaf pull from Martin Pierce custom hardware

pear leaf pull from Martin Pierce custom hardware

and unusual or unique leaf shapes from other collections:

cabinet pull from our Vine collection in bronze finish Martin Pierce Hardware

cabinet pull from our Vine collection in bronze finish
Martin Pierce Hardware

 

Display of Hedgerow collection at Folger & Burt

Display of Hedgerow collection at Folger & Burt

Willow collection from Martin Pierce custom hardware

Willow collection from Martin Pierce custom hardware

You can view our entire collection of nature inspired architectural hardware at http://www.martinpierce.com.

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