Jewelry for wood . . .
December 26, 2009
After my last blog about invisible hardware, I couldn’t resist a paragraph about “jewelry for wood”. I have a weakness for beautiful hinges and hardware. When appropriate, I like to incorporate them into a project for a hidden surprise as you move your shoji. Here’s a small sampling of some “hidden gems.”
When we first started out, I was dissatisfied with the standard two-way hinges made. Although they were quite functional, I didn’t like their appearance or size. They seemed to stand out too much and lacked the fine finish I was after. One afternoon, a colleague at McGuire Furniture suggested, “Why don’t you design your own?” (Thank you Frank!)
Having never considered it, I was a bit intimidated. But after a few sketches, our double-acting loose pin hinge was born. Fashioned from solid brass, it allows you to order multiple hinged panels, and easily separate them as needed (ie a 6-panel becomes two 3-panel units, or split into a 4-panel and a 2-panel, etc.)
So, that’s where my search for the perfect hardware began and continues to this day.
Most of the time I like to route hand pulls directly into the stile of the shoji for the cleanest look. However, I would be remiss not to include some of the beautiful Japanese wrought iron and wood pulls available when a more decorative look is desired. There are many sizes and finishes; these are some of my favorite. Appropriate for custom tansu or shoji screens, these add a classic touch to our Design Shoji projects.
As you know, it doesn’t take much hardware to overpower the delicate design balance of a shoji panel. But sometimes, you may want to “dress up” a shoji screen; I like looking for the perfect accent hardware your doors may require.
I’m sure you can tell I don’t like to build the same thing twice. I like customizing each project, all they way down to the tiniest hardware details. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but it’s how I approach each shoji screen I make. If you are going to put the energy and time into ordering a custom shoji door, it’s up to me, the woodworker, to build you something functional, beautiful and unique to your space. Your shoji should stand out as custom-made for you, just as any custom-designed piece of furniture would not be confused for a mass-produced stock piece.
Little details make a big difference in the shibui-style of Japanese design. For me, hardware is one of those critical elements that go into a successful shoji installation — whether you see it or not!