Anatomy of a bronze door handle-part 3

Whew!  I am tired just reading about this lengthy process.  But excited about the outcome!

Onward… now that we have “lost” the wax that melted out we are left with a hollow shell with the ceramic gates or funnels.  Try to envision a hollow wall around the body of the bird that we are now going to fill with molten bronze.

We will pour the molten bronze into  the shells and, once cooled, we are left with castings. The gates will have been turned to bronze and will need to be removed.  In the photo you can see the flat areas on the body and feet that are a result of the gates being removed.

Underside of hollowed out mold for jay sculpture Martin Pierce Hardware

Underside of hollowed out mold for jay sculpture
Martin Pierce Hardware

These areas are ground off leaving behind a scar or rough section that will require further grinding to smooth them out.  The details such as the vein of a wing will have to be “chased” or added by hand.

In the next photo we show the top side of the casting before the piece has been assembled.

Martin Pierce Hardware Notice the gate "scars"

Martin Pierce Hardware
Notice the gate “scars”

This beautiful representation of the magnificent jay hawk can be modified for use as entry door handles or hung on the wall and enjoyed as a wall sculpture.

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

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Going batty with door and drawer hardware

Halloween seems to be the perfect time to highlight some of our “spookier” pieces of custom hardware.  While not designed to be spooky but rather a detailed representation of the creatures, they are all popular “ambassadors” for All Hallow’s Eve that can be enjoyed year round.

Hospitality designers will enjoy the realistic or whimsical value they will add to spa, hotel and commercial projects while residential designers will please many a homeowner with the introduction of these unique door and drawer hardware items.

Bats

Unbeknownst to most of us, bats play an important role in the world-wide economy and contribute greatly to the environment.  But it is their role in literature that most of us are familiar with.  After all, don’t vampires morph into bats at the light of day?  But our bat hardware is actually finely detailed miniature pieces of art that will enhance any interior project.

bat pulls from Martin Pierce Custom Hardware

bat pulls from Martin Pierce Custom Hardware

Lizards

Perhaps Shakespeare says it best in Macbeth “eye of newt and toe of frog…lizard’s leg…”. This recipe for a poisonous soup includes many of the creatures from our Animal collection, including our popular lizard and shiny frog pull.

frog pull from Martin Pierce Custom Hardware available in multiple finishes

frog pull from Martin Pierce Custom Hardware available in multiple finishes

 Creepy crawlies

We recently shared with you Martin’s desire to study bugs and their habitats and, therefore, our acquisition of “pets” Boris and Natasha, a pair of Hercules Beetles.  Halloween celebrations are full of bugs, spiders and other things that crawl that often make people’s skin crawl.  Wasps, beetles, moths and some slimy friends are depicted, in extraordinary detail, in our Animal collection of custom hardware.  Also included are less “scary” hardware designs such as dragonflies, butterflies, pretty birds and delightful bumble bees.

Small scarab pull from Martin Pierce Hardware

Small scarab pull from Martin Pierce Hardware

Introduce any one of these amazing custom hardware designs into your next project and enjoy their beauty for years to come.

To view our entire Animal or Lizard collection as well as our other lines of architectural hardware, please visit our site at http://www.martinpierce.com.

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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

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 http://www.martinpierce.com.

 

 

 

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Tools of the trade for custom hardware

carving tools Martin Pierce Hardware

carving tools
Martin Pierce Hardware

While we agree that the most important tools for any creative profession is the brain, the imagination and the hands, there are other man-made tools that do make the job easier and add those all-important details that can turn a hunk of clay, stone or metal into a work of art.  Chisels of varying sizes, hammers, mallets, knives and vises all play an important role in the final outcome of a piece of sculpture, custom hardware or furniture.

Over the years we have sporadically shared with you some of the tools that Martin uses when creating his sculptures and custom hardware molds.  As you can see from some of the photos, Martin does have his favorites that bear the marks of years of use.  But, like most things, they just get better with time.

Martin Carving a Large Lizard in Wood

Martin carving a large lizard on wood

Here is the result of the carving seen in the above photo—our lizard door pulls.  The close-up photo makes it possible for you to see the amazing detail and realism on the lizards and the backplate accomplished through the use of all of Martin’s carving tools.

martin pierce lizard door pull right and left

Right and left lizard door pull from Martin Pierce Hardware

 

We would love to hear what tools you find useful in your job.  And if you would like to view our collection of architectural hardware, custom furniture and unique sculptures, please visit us at http://www.martinpierce.com.

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Anatomy of a bronze door handle

We introduced the beginnings of our jay sculpture with a post back in August of 2014. After working on the piece we decided to offer it as a limited edition of 25 sculpture that can be hung on the wall or fitted for use as door pulls.  As with any bespoke item, the creative process involves many steps.

As we have shared many times, all sculptures and our custom door hardware pieces begin with a detailed sketch of Martin’s vision for the piece or, in this instance, many photographs of his inspiration i.e. the red tailed hawk we see flying above the skies of Los Angeles.

Red tailed Hawk Martin Pierce Hardware

Red tailed Hawk
Martin Pierce Hardware

martin pierce redtail hawk on utility pole

As mentioned, when Martin began the jay sculpture in wood it was always his intention to use this sculpture as a pattern to make bronze door handles.   Therefore, when designing the bird there were three very important considerations:

The first consideration was a) how would you, as a home or business owner,  be able to grip a section of the bird to pull open your door and b) how would you be able to mount the bird on your door?

These considerations affected the way Martin designed the wings.  The left wing has a flatter area which can be used to attach the bird to the door and the right wing is the area that would make it possible to grip and hold to open the door. The tail of the bird could also be used as a secondary spot to attach the bird to the door if necessary.

The second consideration was the casting process. In casting you have to think about ways that the molds can be made so that  first the wax,  and then  later the bronze, can flow easily. To do this you have to plan where you are going to create “gates” or funnels or paths for the wax and bronze to evenly flow.

The third consideration is weight.  In order to avoid having the “bird” weigh a ton, so to speak, the casting of the body must be hollow.

Once all these details were ironed out it was time to begin sculpting the mold.  Details to follow on that very interesting process as well as casting, pouring etc.  So stay tuned!

To view our entire collection of custom architectural hardware you can visit our site at http://www.martinpierce.com.

 

 

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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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