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And Away We Go!

4.17.13

An incredible assortment of pieces fresh out of the shops – custom exterior and interior doors, a custom bed, custom dining and coffee tables, a custom buffet and morehorse

Ah, Spring!  I was looking up quotes about spring, envisioning something witty, maybe ironic, and laughed when I saw a quote from Margaret Atwood, saying, “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt”.  I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but we have been celebrating spring with our usual gale force winds, with a touch of snow thrown in for amusement.  The sky has been brown, filled with the airborne dust, the mountains barely visible.  And so, on some of these spring days, yes, we do end the day smelling like dirt.  But I also found a quote from Tolstoy:  “Spring is the time of plans and projects”, which definitely seems to be true around LPO these days!  People are coming in with plans for remodeling kitchens, new bedroom furniture and garden gates, refreshed dining rooms and new front doors – pretty much everything under the sun – it’s very exciting!  And for months now I have been promising to feature some of the latest fab pieces coming out of the shop, but keep getting side tracked by installation photos.  Well, I have received even MORE installation photos, but really want to feature some latest and greatest, so here we go!

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First up we have the most solid bed I have ever seen.  When I was watching the guys putting the pieces together I could not imagine what they were going to be!  Huge, thick slabs of reclaimed barn wood, pieces cut at a cant, then a giant solid box.  I could always ask, but where’s the fun in that?  I love to see the evolution and come to the day when the piece reveals itself.  So, the giant box turned out to be the head of the bed – I just don’t think you could call it a headboard – that would be more like a board and would be flat.

10035-01And this box would end up being the base upon which the antique platters and dugout canoe parts made by the Kuna and Choco Indians of San Blas Panama were mounted on end.

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Looking at the photographs, I just don’t know that the impressive scale is evident, but consider as you look, that this is a king-sized bed, and the footboard is probably 4-5 inches thick.  I would watch people as they walked past it and everybody wanted to touch it, running their hands over the solid surfaces.

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They actually had to apply the finish in the wood shop, because there wasn’t a space big enough in the finish shop.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t there when they were moving it outside for the finished product photographs, but I am sure it was a feat involving at least half the shop guys.  They have very handy, heavy-duty things that roll and lift, etc., but the piece has got to get on the rolling thing somehow, and in a steady fashion for transport!  I am not sure how they did it, but here it is, in the sunshine.

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This was another one of the pieces with which everyone wants their photo taken.  When I opened the photos, about 6 of them were of people posing with the bed, but I chose this one because it features Arturo, who did a good amount of the work on the bed.

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We move from the bedroom to the dining room, for two pieces, a dining table and buffet cabinet, again, at a massive scale.  Both are 12 feet long.  The table was constructed using these four antique carved columns for the legs,

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and the table top sides are inset with carved pieces from this antique surround.

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It was finished in a deep, rich brown, which you can see Jorge starting to apply on the underside of the table.

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Here you can see the finish sample approved by the customer, to which Jorge refers, resting above the painted area.

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As we see it here, the finish on the underside of the table is darker and more matte than the sample because the sample features the finishing touch of a hand-rubbed wax, which adds a rich luster.  And here we have it with the finish completed.

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When I process the finished product photos, which you see below, I did not feel that the scale was evident.

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It looked as though it could be a low coffee table.  So I asked who had worked on the table the most.  The answer was Memo, so I asked him if I could photo him for the blog in order to show the scale of the table, and here we have him, as well as Scout, the Coleman’s puppy, who also recently appeared in an article about LPO in our local paper.

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I just love it when the guys show such pride in their work, and when I brought a print of the table photo to him, he pointed out to me a kitchen cabinet leg that he had just finished, matching the carving on the opposite side, which was a leg from an antique carved dowry chest.  It was interesting to see because the antique piece was grey and weathered, while the piece that he had just carved was fresh, with the brightness of new wood.  But aside from the patina, the carving was identical, and I took photos, which I will feature in a future post because the kitchen cabinets for that client are really amazing.  I have been watching them going through the shops and photographing the progress rather extensively.  But I digress – sorry.

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Matching the dining table, we have the buffet cabinet, which has sections from the ends of this antique carved column inset as legs,

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and again, the sides of the cabinet top have been inset with intricate carvings from this antique surround.

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Here we have the column sections being glued into the front of the buffet as stylized legs.

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Then the cabinet top was added, and the carved antique material was set into the edge.

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Equal in length and grandeur, it is finished with in the same rich brown as the table.  Spectacular.

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IMG_0466“So, what’s up with the horse?”,  you may very well be asking, and I’m glad you did.  This little guy was donated to a local charity auction, but he was missing one of his ears.  So the people from the charity came by to see if La Puerta Originals could fashion a new ear for him.  The guys were put up to the task, which they dove into with a flurry of activity.  They love their kids, and were ready to help out.  They carved out the ear, matched the color and buffed up the little guy’s allover finish a bit as well.

horse-2His mane was looking a little tired, so Alejandra’s cleaning supply closet was raided for replacement mop heads, and in 3 hours, neigh!, less than two!, he was chompin’ at the bit to get on the auction block.  Oh, sorry, sorry, sorry.  Never heard what he fetched, but I am sure it was just a little bit more, now that he had two good ears.  And everybody involved felt good about pitching in to help a good cause.

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Getting back to tables, our next piece is a tall studio table constructed with antique ox yokes.  There are many things that I consider when I am choosing what pieces to feature in a blog post.  I either want to focus on a single subject, as I did with an entry on beds, and another on wine cellar doors, or I want to include a nice variety things, such as this entry, which has a bed, a number of tables and several doors.  But sometimes it is just a photograph of an item that makes me want to include a piece.  That is the case with this table.  I was really taken with this close up of the joinery of the legs and the yokes.

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You can see in the raw material photo of the antique yokes, that the arched neck pieces in the one on the left are still fairly well defined, while the neck pieces of the yoke on the right are a little more weathered and gnarly.

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The well defined one serves as the rung that runs the length of the table, and the gnarly piece joins the rung and the legs, passing through the distressed legs, protruding on the other side.  I just love this detail!  Here it is from a different angle.

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And here is a photo in which I put a binder on top of the table to allow you to see the scale and tallness of the table (and that is a fireplace mantel next to the binder, if that helps to see how big the table is).

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The table top and legs are made from reclaimed Douglas fir, which on the table top is sanded to a smooth finish, while the legs are distressed somewhat in the manner similar to the surface of the yokes.

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The table top was then fitted with T and L straps as well as decorative clavos.  Mmm, mmm, mmm…yummy.

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The next several tables are actually not very recent, but I promised in a previous post that I would show them, so I am including them here.  It was in another “latest and greatest” post last summer that I featured a number of carved headboards that we had done for a client.  Julian had done the carving on the headboards, and later he did some additional distressing that was requested by the client.  And then further into the blog entry I showed Julian working on some amazing carved doors.  At the time, in that post, I mentioned that I had seen him working on some beautiful panels into which he was carving grapes and leaves.  I imagined that they would go on a wine cellar door, but it turned out they were to be part of a very large, square coffee table.

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You can see that he starts here, drawing the grapes, based on this old example from our library, that the client chose.

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Because the panels for the coffee table are to be square instead of rectangular as they are in the example, there is more room to stretch out the leaves.

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He carves away the background, and the three dimensional grapes and leaves emerge.  In this photo, you can also see the headboard he was working on, doing the additional distressing.  Those were some beautiful beds.

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And here we have the table top into which the panels will be set.

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Drying, before the strapping is applied to the top and the corners:

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The cage-like iron legs were custom crafted by Cristobal and ably hold the very heavy table top.

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We did a number of tables for this client, and I thought I would show you this one as well because I found it interesting that though the table is created in a similar fashion, the feel is quite different.  It started with these four antique window grills.

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In a very early entry called Grillin’, I showed a number of different ways that we have used these windows, mostly over front entry peep shutters or windows.  Graphically I am intrigued by them, some of which resemble rope, others look like tires.  But the thing I find most interesting is that when the wooden frame is removed, the grillwork that was inserted into the wood is a spike.  In some cases the grillwork has been trimmed down and the spike eliminated, but we have done several that retained the spikes, giving the grillwork a rather medieval or Moorish look.

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The entry was so long ago that I am showing the door I used as an example back then again, though I hope you feel free to dig through the archives.

Anyway, these current grills will be made into smaller square panels, so the grills were trimmed down.  Several of the antique grills had blue paint on them, and that was retained to great effect.  Once trimmed to size, metal framing was welded around the edges.

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Here we see Rigo preparing to finish the grills, I believe with a varnish, but I am not sure.  Apparently it was also clavo day, though for some other project, not this one.

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Here they are drying, and you can see that the finish has deepened the color of the grillwork.

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Whereas the grape panels were set into a solid base, the grillwork is set into frames, in order to be able to see through the grills.

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Here it is in the finish shop, and then getting the finished product photos taken out on the loading dock.

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You can see that it has legs that match the grape table, though it has strapping only on the table corners, not on the table top.

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Before we move on to our final section, featuring three very different doors, I thought I would share a couple of amusing things.  Some people watch birds, but, as I have mentioned before, I have developed a fascination with clouds, which are varied and plentiful here at 7,000 feet.  I thought I had seen them all, but I had to smile and take a couple of pictures before I even got out of the car when arriving a couple of weeks ago, to see these alien clouds hovering above LPO.

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And speaking of birds, Miguel has continued the tradition Antonio started, of including little surprises in the photographs that I process.  Usually with just a cryptic line on the photo log of “for Britta”, I never know what I am going to find when I open the photos, and I love the surprise.  This one turned out to be a roadrunner, sitting atop an antique carved column.

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They are our state bird (ironically with the latin name of Geococcyx Californianus), but I rarely see them.  They are good to have around though, because their diet consists of insects, centipedes, mice, snakes and, unfortunately, lizards, which I like, but 4 out of 5 ain’t bad.  When I do see them, I am always surprised by how skinny their legs are, because I picture them with sturdy legs, more like the hawks that we see around.

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But back to output!  Moving on to las puertas, numero uno is a three dimensional stunner.  I first came across it like this, unfinished and looking like an optical illusion.

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So interesting in the unfinished state, with the contrast in the grain so visible.

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You can maybe see in this close-up, that the door was created by mounting individual pyramids onto the base of the door.

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Here it is awaiting hardware and out on the loading dock for its official finished product photo, with some hardware detail shots, and then inside again, as it was awaiting shipment.

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The light reflects off the surfaces and the door looks different from different angles.

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There it is with Chance, who has a hold on Campbell, the Coleman’s elderly dog, who is so patiently helping to raise Scout.  There are many dogs populating LPO, including mine.

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This door just might appear in a magazine.  Mountain Living Magazine requested several door photos from us recently, and this was one that I included, so we will see.  It is a Dutch door, a style that really appeals to me.  It conjures up images of leaning on the lower door, chatting with a neighbor, and I like the idea of sort of having the door open, and being able to keep the dogs in, or maybe other things out.  But this is not just a Dutch door, it also has an operable shutter, so you can open the top of the door to receive your UPS package, then close it and open the shutter for a fresh breeze and no flies in the living room.  I didn’t get a lot of photos during construction, but here it is in its natural, pre-finished state, which I always think is interesting to compare and contrast with photos after the color/finish has been applied.

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And here it is sort of in the midst of a number of processes.  The glass, shutter latch and dead bolt have been installed, but no handle hardware yet, and it is in the final stages of having the color finishes applied.

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I love this finish, with the variegated blue, and patches of natural wood peeking out.

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I find this lower panel to be so beautiful, like an abstract wave.  Go on, click the photo…

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And then we have it out for its official finished product portrait, in all its modes of being.

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The next door was also in the group of doors I sent to Mountain Living, so I guess we will see who wins.

9962-04-Door-Front-adjIt is actually a set of bi-fold doors set into a carved surround, and it started with the three antique carved cabinet doors shown below.

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The panels were cut, in some case into smaller panels, and in other cases, into strips, and set into beveled panels and into the door surround.  In most, if not all cases, the color of the original carved panel was retained and enhanced, and the cross pieces of wood were used to create the remainder of the door, though the color was sanded off.

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I love to identify the raw material in the finished product, and this is a fun one.  You may have to click on the photos to see the details in the photos shown a little further below.

These two panels from the third door shown were cut into strips that were used in the lower section of both sides of the surround.  And the color was retained and enhanced.

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The four narrow panels at the top of the door are from the second door shown.

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The four panels at the bottom of the door are from the first and second antique doors shown.

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Unfortunately, the drawing is placed over one of the carved panels, and I can only assume that the fourth panel is under the paper, because I do not find that leaf design in any of the other doors.

The rest of the carving that is inset in the surround comes from door #3. Again, the panels were cut into strips and set into the surround.

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And the middle section of the doors are outfitted with panels of recycled pressed tin that has been hammered flat and attached onto wooden panels with small nails.

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The hardware is a simple knob that is one of my favorites.  From a distance it looks like a round ball.  We carry it in a number of finishes, and I wouldn’t be able to pick my favorite.

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The back of the door was finished in a manner similar to the front, with the areas the panels occupy in the front being painted in a rustic orange patina.

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We do a lot of different projects for a lot of different people, but there are some names that just keep coming up again and again as I choose pieces to feature in the blog.  The clients for whom we did the coffee tables are a good example – I have featured pieces we have created for them in a number of previous entries, and probably in future entries.  And I will be featuring other pieces that we have done for this client here, with the folding doors, because I have unknowingly collected numerous pieces we have done for them to feature in blog entries. One set that I knew was related, because it was in a similar style, were doors like these bi-folding doors, with carved surrounds and inset panels of tin, but they have been finished in a white palette.  I will definitely be showing those off in the future, as it will be so interesting to see how they look in such a different finish.  And the best part is that I have been receiving installation photos, so we will get to see how some of the pieces we have done look installed and in working order.  Here is a last detail shot of these doors – you will have to excuse the sun spot, I get sawdust on my lens sometimes when shooting in the wood shop.

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That’s it for this edition of the latest and greatest out of the shops.  I hope to be back soon with an entry documenting the complete process, going from the raw material selected right on through to installation photos.   I am lucky enough to know the clients, and am going to shoot their remodeled master bath and closet area in the next week or so.  The cabinets were so beautiful when I saw them after completion, and I just can’t wait to see them installed.  Here’s a sneak peek at one of the cabinet fronts.

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Stay tuned…

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