Creative problem solving from the Greene’s point of view
Creating a custom design in the Greene and Greene style is always inspiring. It offers more of an imaginative test for me than straight reproduction.
A recent commission provided a double design challenge (ideal for an artist like me): Create original wrought iron gates for the Robinson House with limited original work to draw from.
The gates enclose a newly established garden area on the estate, next to the guesthouse.
This kind of project makes good use of my years of experience working within the style, while not always having a specific example to draw from.
Re-imagining wrought iron gates
The design is rather simple, but the gates require many hours of labor to fabricate, because of the many bends involved. Once I worked up a design, I gave the drawings to the clients for their approval. Their desire was for what they were familiar with, meaning the kind of iron work they saw on other Greene and Greene houses in the neighborhood, some of it
some inspiration for the new gates to ensure an addition that fit the home’s overall look.
This meant I needed to tap into the one running theme in their ironwork, the straps, which tie the
horizontal and vertical elements together.
This is part of the Arts and Crafts tradition of exposing the structure of fabricated objects and celebrating them as both function and form, rather than disguising or hiding them. Most of the existing metalwork remaining has a weathered patina, giving them their antique air.
The finishing touch
I designed a latch for the gate that incorporated another signature look for the Robinson House: square “bolt” heads. The latches on the houses upstairs’ cupboards show these now unusual square bolt heads (the currently available hexagonal-shaped bolt heads are not correct to the period, so square bolt heads have to be fabricated to complete the proper look). Because of the antique nature of square bolt heads, they now represent an Arts and Crafts look.
If you’re curious, here are other Greene ironwork commissions: The Marvin Flavin House, in Carmel Highlands, CA; The Thorsen House in Berkeley, CA; and The Westmoreland Place gates in Pasadena, the site of the Gamble House.