All About Grilles, Resin and Iron Work – The Artistry of Space
Grilles the beautiful decorative solution to filling spaces such as holes, for heating and air conditioning, speakers, gates, railings, security protection, privacy and separation and decoration. When form and function combine a decorative grille is a thing of beauty. Please visit us on Pinterest to see our entire collection of magnificent decorative grilles, investment castings and iron work.
The Petit Palais was built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition. It became a museum in 1902. Designed by Charles Girault, it is based on a trapezium shape and is made up of four wings around a semi-circular garden bordered by a richly decorated peristyle. The architect achieved a successful blend of traditional and modern architecture which is evident in the natural flow of visitors around the building and in the bold openings he created onto the Champs-Elysées gardens and inner courtyard garden. The main entrance gate, designed by Girault himself, was immediately praised for its elegance and the virtuosity of its craftsmanship. He also created the banisters for the staircases in rotundas and the garlands and swags of wrought iron decorating the peristyle and balconies.
A Bold Opening
Through September 14 there is an exhibition, Paris 1900, City show as an opportunity for the Petit Palais to honor its architect, Charles Girault (1851-1932) . The Petit Palais, is recognized as one of the architectural jewels of the Universal Exhibition. In 2012 the Petit Palais received a significant donation from the descendants of the architect .
There is beautiful iron work on the interior as well.
Gates are so grand. If you closely examine the railings above as well as the gates below, you can see that it is a combination of wrought iron and lost wax castings. The wrought iron is welded together from iron bars
which are mostly painted black in the gate below. The finer decorative parts shown in gold leaf, was made from molds cast in the lost wax method, which produces much superior details.
Here are some of my collection from traveling in Charleston, South Carolina and New Orleans, Louisiana. These grilles and railings are generally made of cast iron in sand castings. They have a rough surface, due to the nature of cast iron and the grainy nature of sand which is used as a temporary mold.
The top of the line when it comes to fabulous grilles is Investment Casting. These are from Stuart’s Dream Grille file. At the top of my list is this second Empire grille (Napoleon III of France, 1863). Eighteen of these grilles were used in Grand Central Station, New York City. They were apparently removed when air conditioning was installed in the late 1950’s.
Notice the fine details, which could only be achieved through the labor intensive lost wax method in combination with a fine casting metal like brass or bronze. The original had to be carved in wax, then it was coated in a plaster of Paris type mixture. Next the wax is melted out of the plaster mold and bronze poured in it’s place at a temperature of 2200 degrees. Once the bronze cooled, the plaster mold had to be broken off with a hammer. This method makes a near perfect casting, but was expensive, even in the 1800’s. That is why it is referred to as investment casting, because it takes a major investment to create one.
The grille below is one of the few good Art Deco Grilles I have seen. Maybe because Art Deco came of age just before the Great Depression. The money wasn’t as available for expensive investment casting in expensive metals. Never the less, it is a very fine grille indeed.
Art Deco Grille from Marshall Fields store in Chicago
For those that have radiators, Antique Radiator Covers are an inspiration. The three radiator cabinets below are all from England. They all have the investment casting look. The top one looks like four investment cast grilles were attached to a cabinet made from a different material.
Antique Brass Radiator Cabinet with a marble top. Splendid!
English design radiator cabinet in polished pewter.
Here are some more beautiful examples of Beaux-Artes‘ grilles that we manufacture. For years we have tried to find a foundry in the USA to cast our wonderful grilles in iron, brass and bronze. Unfortunately, the iron ones are just too grainy and cannot be sold to a high end clientele. Using Brass or Bronze in investment casts places them out of most consumers price range. Having to break apart each mold after just one use, slows down production too much for profit margins.
In order to replicate the fine details Beaux-Artes developed a stream-lined method of investment casting using a high quality and expensive thermal resin. Our method of manufacturing gives the finely detailed look that we desired, without the outrageous cost of investment cast bronze. In may respects, the urethane resin we use is superior to metal since it will not rust, corrode or grow mold like metal grilles do. Rather than just making one grille per mold, we produce 50 to 100 grilles per mold. Our grilles can even have a bronze, brass or pewter face since we dust our molds with metallic powders prior to pouring the resin. The resin bonds or fuses to the metallic powder to form a thin brass, bronze or pewter surface on the front of our grilles. Times change, manufacturing improves and new materials are introduced. Today Beaux-Artes grilles are as finely detailed as the best grilles made in the lost wax method of the 1800’s.
Here are just a few of our grilles in two of our styles. Visit Beaux-Artes to see 28 different sizes of our Louis XIV grilles and 47 different sizes of our Arts and Crafts Grille, plus 26 different size of our Venetian Rope grilles.
Louis XIV 14″ x 14″ $159
Louis XIV 18″ x 28″ grille $599