How do you reproduce authentic old-world craftsmanship using modern tools? In a word, readily. But let us qualify this claim by adding the assumption that the original subject matter can be seen and evaluated in detail. Perhaps the original structure was moved, damaged or destroyed. All that exists for reference is an old photograph. Digital scanning and modeling technology can be used to first render and then recreate architectural works from the past.
Architectural hardware from bygone days can sometimes be found in specialty salvage yards and repurposed to add an antique look and feel to new construction. Architectural hardware suppliers try to offer newly manufactured alloy, brass and bronze fittings common to older buildings but availability is often an issue and what’s offered sometimes fails to meet the designer’s ideal. However, that shouldn’t keep you from specifying old-world style metalwork in your designs, even if it’s only something you’ve seen in a photograph. Metal components can be recreated and finished to look and feel just like the original antique pieces that you’re striving to replicate.
Retrofitting the Past
Railings, gates, shelving mounts, door handles, hinges, window latches and locks… These are just some of the metal fixtures that add long lasting function and style to the built environments in which we live and work. Creating a space that signifies a special time and place in history can be a rewarding endeavor for the owner and architect.
Imagine, for example, a large window or door arch with decorative spandrels and spacing panels. Specialized fabricating and finishing techniques may be needed to get shape, texture and color looking right. Even time itself could be the final touch as a natural patina will slowly form over the surface of bronze and other exposed metals.
A Photo Finish
Historic buildings that have been damaged by fire, acts of nature or human neglect can be restored according to their original footprints as preserved in photos and drawings. Bringing metals back to their original qualities is aided today by precision design & modeling tools combined with digitally controlled machining. There is also plenty of craftsmanship involved in the fabricating and installation of custom architectural metals.
Historic restoration projects tend to present questions and challenges to architects and builders but they can be a lot of fun to work on. Bringing an old property back to life in its original luster can be the most rewarding kind of work in real estate, architecture and construction.
If you have an historic metals restoration challenge, feel free to contact us.