Home for Ancient Olive Trees
My incredible customers do give me some really enjoyable projects to work on. In this case, a previous customer returned with another challenge (see the Garden Arbour with a Difference for the previous project):
Having bought two amazing olive trees, my customer wanted planters for them to be housed in. He also wanted to adorn a door, within the same location, with a leaf shaped canopy. When you get to pictures of the finished project, you'll see the contrast between the building and the lead-effect, patinated metal structures and the way in which they work beautifully together.
Take a look through the gallery of images at the process each of the elements went through: for the canopy, I mocked up a real-sized door on the wall of my workshop to show how the finished piece would look; for the planters you can see imagery and watch videos of them from their skeleton through the construction process.
I love the end result of this project, and I'm so glad that my products fit so well in their new home!
Lydia the Lark
A great commission from the owners of a brand new, self-build home in North Suffolk. The lark inspiration came from the name of the original house on the site and my customers wanted me to create a canopy of their front door.
As with most of my projects, drawings are approved by my customers and then, with the larger pieces, a maquette is made, both for me and my customers to see how the final piece will look, in 3 dimensions, when it's complete. The design incorporates obelisk supports and a huge lark shaped canopy. The obelisks are adorned with seed-head finials made with giant blue marbles.
Take a look at the images to see the process from the original drawings, through to the forming of the structure, the final build, galvanising and patination. We had a trial fitting when Lydia was complete - luckily there were some ground workers on site that day as it took six of us to get Lydia into position. The final installation went without a hitch and I'm massively pleased and proud of the end result. Lydia has found her new roost and makes an entrance for all to see!
My smallest customers
Designed with the smallest customers in mind, this is a large egg-shaped table 1370 x 1200cm. Two cut-outs in the 12mm thick glass mean that the client's two children can snuggle up into the table to draw and play. The base is made from an industrial galvanized water tank-looking part which is zinc coated and patinated, and a brushed copper whimsical part. The client's house is beautifully old and has an inglenook fireplace with old metal objects with similar finishes to those of the table base. A whacky table but with echoes of the room it will eventually end up in.
Once I've applied the chemical to the zinc coating (which makes it go black), I then use rainwater to accelerate the process (see the video). I have to set things in the way they will eventually end up so that the streaks work with the project. After a couple of days, the surface goes powdery and looks like an old, galvanized water tank.
Leaving an Impression
This has been one of those projects that I've been overwhelmingly honoured to be a part of and here's why...
My client's daughter lives in Canada but has returned for a year to spend some quality time with her mum. My brief was to design and make a Juliette balcony for their house and, as they were telling me their story, we discussed the idea of creating somethign that would remind them of their daughter.
The end result - a balcony that uses the daughter's thumb print as the design: every time my clients pull up to their house, they have a beautiful remind of their daughter. What an impression!
Ballustrade with Bullrushes
Having met these customers at Helmingham Hall, I looked forward to working on this commission... an indoor ballustrade for their apartment building - an old oast house.
As an architect, this customer has amazing good taste - the apartment had a lots of Scandinavian influence. Situated by the river, this old oast house is now a small complex of apartments.
I wanted to include influences from the surroundings in my design; bullrushes feature in this burnished steel balustrade with lacquered high-gloss finish. Blue and silver marbles complement the bullrushes to complete this striking entrance into the apartment.
A traditional pair of gates made for a client. It's only under exceptional circumstances I will do old-skool metalwork these days.
This kind of metal fettling looks easy but it isn't! Clean lines & geometric shapes and classical styling means that these gates must be made with precision. Not my favourite process but by far the best finish. When round bar passes through flat bar at an angle, the hole needs reaming out by hand to give a seamless joint.
An expanse of 10 ft to fit the client's space, the finished product was sprayed a light green and installed in place - the design absolutely suits the client's surroundings.
12' 60/40 Gate
I enjoy projects where my clients allow me to run riot with my designs! Here are a pair of gates installed in Offton, near Ipswich. A 12 ft span with a 60/40 split allowing for a pedestrian gate to the side. All left in bare steel so that they rust.
Bending ... lots of bending - welding together of each of the components - referring back to the original, agreed drawing at each stage. The detail's all important when working on a commission
The end result: The gates span a 12' space and are designed as 60/40 gates (rather than two equal gates), to allow for pedestrian access.
The Patio Table
Here's a table from early 2017 for some wonderful clients I met over the previous Christmas.
The design for the base is inspired by the gnarly willow trees lining the banks of the river Stour between Flatford and Dedham where I grew up.
Every project begins with a drawing and a prototype - all of this happens before any metal is cut or welded. A prototype is formed; a template to test the viability of materials and to calculate loading etc.
Once we're happy with the prototype, and we've made all calculations and measurements, the base of the table is formed. We create a template of the table top for the glass cutter - accuracy at every stage is crucial.
Creating a 'diver' to serenely balance at the water's edge, was a brief that required creativity, engineering and mathematics.
The first job was the prototype - designed to look at proportion and feasibility.
Lots of welding of each section of the sculpture happens after cutting them all out and assembling. As the final shape emerges, finishing of the surface takes place
Transport in style to the diver's new home followed. Ensuring that our diver was stable during the installation process was key - once stationed by the side of this watery new home, I needed to ensure that she would never take an actual dive!
A Garden Arbour with a Difference!
An enormous garden arbour that’s about 12 feet tall and 12 feet wide. It was designed and constructed so that it looks very incidental and whimsical. See the sketch that gave my customer an idea of how the hoops would appear.
I visited the client’s property to do a final measure-up and, as work commenced, my workshop was littered with random pieces of bend strewn metal! The arbour was set up in the yard and began to take shape - the clients visited to view progress and loved the colour I mixed up so much in workshop that I have my paint man, Dean, matching it.
As I was working on this epic piece it already started to feel cosy inside. Notice theres no balls! The arbour is a heavy gauge construction and once made and installed, will not budge from its position. It can have plants trained up or can be left.
Once constructed, the arbour was then in primer. The next job was to address all of the joints - these needed to be flattened down and then a 2-pack filler applied followed by a serious amount of sanding! Working on the complex joints of the arbour is time consuming work but I'm very fussy about the finish on this kind of thing worked carefully to get the best finish. The top coat was applied as areas were finished - the final coat was applied once the arbour was fully constructed.
Once complete, I loaded the arbour and delivered - extra pieces were welded on as details were fitted after a week. With the help of my son Judah and his friends Ed, Tyler and Joe along with my client we managed to manoeuvre the structure into place - I’m guessing it weights 200kgs. Such a beautiful home to be able to enhance with my work!
Take a look at the pics of the arbour in its new home with a very happy client! An epic project and a delight to work on!