Case studies

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!

Get some RHS shade in your garden!

So, lots of strange things are going on at the moment - as I'm posting this, the UK (and a lot of the world), is in lockdown and many things have changed.

What started out, for me, as a design for an exhibition stand that I was going to use to show my work at several RHS Garden Shows this year (Malvern, Cardiff, Tatton Park and Chatsworth,  has ended up as a product in my online shop.

You'll see, if you scroll through the images below, that I drew out an initial idea for a show stand that included a huge leaf canopy that provided shelter - a gigantic leaf held up with my trademark whimsical steel obelisk-style uprights. You'll see every bit of the process from the initial design through to the finished canopy.

Sadly, although I finished creating the canopy, all of the RHS shows mentioned above have been cancelled for the forseeable. Happily, I enjoyed making this leaf canopy so much that I've put it up for sale - it'll make a great showstopper in someone's garden: not only is it a talking point, it also provides great shelter ... imagine sitting under this enormous leaf and enjoying your garden.

In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I've now made another leaf canopy - same idea but different design; that'll go into my online shop once it's complete too. The next one may also incorporate a bench to sit underneath. 

I'm looking forward to seeing someone enjoying this, and for the leaf to go to a great new home.

Organic form and function

Here's a lovely thing - it's an organic form canopy that I've recently created for a client. 

Designed and then constructed, making a few adjustments along the way that the customer asked for, I then gave it a blast clean before the zinc coating.

Take a look at the final video to see how the canopy works to protect the doorway from the rain ... satisfying to see it in place and doing its job... form and function - they're inseparable!

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.

The Curious Case of Claude

The story of a spider, from concept to installation in his new home.

 

Commissioned by clients to produce a 10ft x 10ft spider to be installed in their 12ft garden... definitely one of my stranger commissions! From the initial consultation and drawings, my workshop became full of legs and joints!

As Claude began to take shape, he was partially constructed at my workshop to ensure that the structure worked. Claude needed to be made in sections in order to deliver to the client's garden. The body of Claude! All ready to visit his new home and be connected to his legs!

And here he is - Claude in his new garden - a gigantic arachnid arbor looking out over our client's garden ... and happy clients they are too!

And.... the finale - a happy spider and a happy spider creator!

Victorian-style Gates

 

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.

Bike Seat Stool!

 

An amazing client (she' ex-RAF and flies choppers privately!), loves cars and motorcycles and is a bit of a collector. She asked me to produce a stool for her gin bar (who doesn't have one?!), using the pillion seat form a motorcycle - how could I refuse something that bizarre!

The base needed to complement the seat. Starting with a tensioned steel stand and forming a solid fixing for the pillion seat.

The finished product - an aesthethic, ergonomic pillion stool fit for any biker needing a seat!

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 Woodland Family

 

As a result of creating stools called the 'ugly family', I was commissioned to create a set of four side tables. They needed a nickname too!

 

I began by creating the legs. Next came the table top bases. Fluid but eliptical shapes work well with the roundness of the legs. Giving the tables a brushed aluminium coating means a smooth, metallic finish. The table top bases are then welded onto the legs and they're ready for the final stage.

Half inch plate glass tops have been specially cut to sit on top of the metal table-top bases and the final polishing begins. The end result; four irregular, quirky and interesting side tables - the Woodland Family

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.

The Swan

Creating a sculpture to reflect the tranquil setting of this private client’s millpond, I began this swan by cutting out stainless steel willow leaves to form the structure. 

Next, the stainless steel willow leaves are spot welded together to form the shape of the swan’s wings. The wings are added to the formed and welded body, and the swan takes shape.

Transportation of the finished sculpture is not always the most conventional - looks like a fairly comfortable ride!

Installed on the banks of our client's mill pond, the swan is suspended 3 metres over the water and has been designed to hover gently as if in flight.

The Diver

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!

The Leaf

 

A leaf-shape portico over the client's front door meant creating a steel frame and offering it up to the wall to ensure a perfect fit. A leaf-shape portico over the client's front door meant creating a steel frame and offering it up to the wall to ensure a perfect fit.

Measurements are crucial at this stage. We then take the steel structure to the workshop. Once all measurements are made to the steel structure, we then take this back to the workshop for the lead to be added.

Once the lead panelling has been added to the steel structure, the leaf is then installed over the client's doorway

East Bergholt, Suffolk

contact@kevcolbear.com

Kev Colbear

Tel: 07740864600

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