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Why cast bronze hardware?

How did you get into designing and making hardware?

People ask me this question all the time…and perhaps when anyone starts a business or new venture there are multiple forces at play. The obvious, easier to explain answer goes like this:

”A few years ago we bought a house and decided to gut and renovate the kitchen. I had a really hard time finding hardware that I liked that didn’t cost an arm and a leg, and that stuck with me. So I decided to make my own!”

kitchen detail shot

Small area of the kitchen I designed in 2014 with 5" GEO handles. Pic by Trina Turl. 

This usually satisfies the person inquiring, but it’s not the whole story of why I started my business. The real truth is simply this: because I just had to. I had to do it.

I’m a maker. I always have been and I’m sure I always will be. At this point in my life, I have decades of making to look back on, and see the things I’ve made that have brought me the greatest joy. The mediums I have always been drawn to are the ones centred around the transmutation that happens when things are brought to and through fire; processes that ​rely on the crucible, the furnace, the kiln, or the forge to alter states of matter.

This is as close to ‘a calling’ that I have ever come, and believe me, I have the scars and burns to prove it. Any person who is reading this and has a creative passion will understand this ‘need’ that I speak of. It’s not tangible or rational, but it’s real. And for me it’s been a consistent fuel source for as long as I can remember.

 

I founded SFH just over a year ago and quietly celebrated the one year mark on instagram with a cute candle pic.​ Since launching in the late spring of 2017, I have loved the process of moulding molten bronze into functional, decorative hardware and bringing the end result to design lovers. I take huge joy in designing and producing the wares that I always wanted to see in the marketplace as well as the reactions to my wares and the attention my products have received from themedia ​and hardware enthusiasts. I love the process as much as the product and am completely smitten with the bronze itself. I’ve also been diving into the history and the lore associated with bronze. The metallurgy, the alchemy and the mysticism associated with the ancient alloy is pretty fascinating.

Before I started my love affair with bronze I used to spend time with high fire ceramics. I studied and made and taught and did all the things that ceramicists do. I obsessed about and wrestled with clay, and prayed to the kiln gods for mercy. I even spent three days  stoking a wood fired kiln in Banff Alberta, not sleeping and literally minding a fire with cords of wood to maintain a consistent high temperature. Maybe it was the sleeplessness, but I swear to you, that fire was alive. Its intense strength and hunger has stayed with me all these years. You could toss a log in to the extraordinary heat only to have it instantly evaporate. And the flames, like fingers and limbs, would find the cracks in the kiln structure, and reach out for more.

Porcelain mug I made years ago, with clear crackle glaze. This is still one of my favourite pieces to drink out of. 

I also spent some time blacksmithing; forging iron with a hammer and my sheer will, was barely enough to morph steel. You can’t imagine how tricky and laborious of a process it is to heat iron in a forge and work it while still hot. And what a messy and loud process it is! Holy cow my friends, blacksmithing is not for the meak. But I loved it. And while I never really made anything that I was too excited about, I never got over the process and the magical, old world feeling I got harnessing red hot steel into everyday objects. Or at least trying to!

I’ve also dabbled in glass blowing, and that process blew my mind too - another furnace to stare down and make friends with. Another molten medium to tackle while hot or cooling too fast. Another addictive process that could take decades to explore. It’s really a sumptuous thing, to melt sand and turn it into a translucent and fragile object, with among other things, your breath.

glass blown vase

Glass vessel that I made in a deep green. Its clunky, but I love it. Pic by Trina Turl. 

 

Shayne Fox Hardware is the culmination of all these experiences and mediums - a place that I can put my expertise and passion. It makes sense to me that I would start a decorative hardware company based on the process of casting bronze and that I found a practical way to design and sell wares that brought me closer to my joy. Of course it’s also because my own renovation opened my eyes to the holes in the decorative hardware market and also because I wanted to build a business that was entirely mine.

Just over a year later, I have a company that supplies cast bronze hardware all over the world, has received international recognition and has devised some ways to ​give back to my local community. I’m so happy that I took the leap with this business that will lead me who knows where, and introduce me to who knows who. But the real truth about why I started Shayne Fox hardware? As simple as it sounds, the golden truth of it all, boils down to this. The fire in my belly was too immense to ignore.... I just had to do it.

 

PYRA 12" handle and the 2" hook/handle installed in our recently renovated basement bathroom. Pic by Trina Turl. 


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