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



About martinpierceblog

Martin and Anne Pierce live in Los Angeles California with their beloved rescue dog, Iris. Martin's custom designs reflect his love of nature and include beautiful vine and fern drawer pulls, a realistic yet whimsical collection of bugs and other critters on door hardware and charming floral designs on everything from door levers to bathroom accessories. He also enjoys creating sculptural contemporary pieces that are easy to access for those with limited physical capabilities. All of Martin's designs are hand carved and cast in their Los Angeles studio where there is truly something for everyone. Please contact us with any questions or custom queries
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