For many, the month of October represents a mystical time of year. Halloween, previously known as All Hallow’s Eve, marks the beginning of a darker, colder season that has often been associated with death, witchery, and things supernatural. The Druids celebrated this holiday "with a great fire festival to encourage the dimming Sun not to vanish" and people "danced round bonfires to keep evil spirits away, but left their doors open in hopes that the kind spirits of loved ones might join them around their hearths". In both history and lore, the blacksmith too, has been associated with many of these other-worldly traits.
Images of an Arts and Crafts style interior staircase railing and fireplace screen that we created over a decade ago.
As craftspeople, we continually seek ways to educate ourselves in various areas of metalwork. Recently, our head blacksmith, and tool enthusiast, Tim had the opportunity to take a week long course at the Adirondack Folk School under the renowned, and former Master Blacksmith at Colonial Williamsburg; Peter Ross. The class focused on creating box joints, a shape commonly used in 18th century tools such as sugar nippers, round nose pliers, scrolling pliers and rush-lights. Creating such a shape requires challenging forging techniques and processes. Once forged, the piece was polished, and finished. This type of work was typically completed by a Whitesmith. Below are a few images of Tim’s finished products. These are replicas of 18th century English style box jaw pliers. Pliers such as these were highly used in Colonial America and exported throughout the world.
Here is a photo of a restoration that we completed on a historic Lenox Hill residence. This project included the restoration and refinishing of the location's original 120 year old exterior fencing, newel posts, and gates. To learn more about this project, please click on our “Case Studies” page.
One of the most exciting and bold design trends that we are seeing is the use of texture patterned metals. These pieces are being applied in both architectural and ornamental work. Such examples include decorative panels, kitchen range hoods, railing panels, and table tops. Just about any project can be elevated by using the right metal with the right texture and finish. These pieces impart a hand crafted sensibility and interesting detail to both interior and exterior metalwork. But how are these textures made? As custom metalworkers, we have the ability to build our own custom tooling which allows for endless design possibilities. Below, is a video of the texturing process done within our studio once such tools are made.
Forged Monel Gate Hardware Custom Made for a Historic Residence
Once the design process is complete and the drawings have been approved by the client, the fabrication process can begin in our studio.
The first step is creating a cut list of the metal stock that will be used in the construction of the pergola. Once the pieces are cut and shaped, they are laid out according to the shop drawings and checked to ensure that all dimensions are correct.
When fabricating a project where there will be more than 1 of a piece, we will create a jig that can speed up the process. A jig is a large brace that keeps a welding project stable in the face of pressure, heat, motion, and force. A quality jig will streamline welding work by keeping parts together in a vice grip. This ensures uniformity throughout the construction.
The pieces are then prepped, and tack welded. Before fully welding the trusses together, they will once more have the dimensions checked for accuracy.
After the welding is complete, and depending on the level of required finish, the welds will be ground and sanded to a specific standard set by our shop.
Shown here, is one of two decorative ginkgo trusses complete and ready to be painted. This pergola will be finished with a flame spray zinc metallizer to prevent rust, and then powder coated in the client’s color of choice. This combination creates a finish that will last for decades.
Here is the completed top of the pergola mocked up at our shop to be receive final approval before it’s sent to be metalized and painted. Once we receive the powder coated pieces, our last step will be installation by our talented crew. Please keep an eye out for Building a Custom Pergola PT. III; the installation process.
Our beautifully designed and executed ginkgo-leaf inspired pergola is now in its home. This striking architectural structure now covers our client's outdoor terrace and will surely be a topic of conversation during their next gathering.
Please keep an eye out for part II of our next case study; "Building a Custom Pergola-PT II of III: the fabrication process"
Here are some images of a fun interior project we completed for a local resident. Our client wanted to embellish his wine cellar door with a custom grapevine inspired panel. The end result was quite beautiful!
What goes into creating a one of a kind custom design?
As a group of skilled artisans, we love using our artistic skills to create unique metalwork. When we received a request to build a custom decorative pergola, our designer Rachel, went right to work developing a design that would fit the client's tastes while at the same time addressing the many technical issues involved. This is a multi-step process which involves meeting with prospective clients, surveying the work site, conceptualizing and creating design sketches for approval, and finally, the creation of accurate shop drawings used for fabrication.