One of my commissions has been to make seven pairs of curtain tie backs for a couple who have just built their forever home, northwest of Melbourne.
They had in mind a simple holdback and knew my style of work from following me on Facebook/Instagram. The challenge I foresaw was the mounting securely of the bracket which was to be screwed in to the 80mm wide wooden window surround and not the wall, which meant it would look totally unbalanced and ugly in my eyes. In fairness nobody would ever see this when the curtains were in use but aesthetically I wanted a pleasing look. Initially I was sent photos of the windows and curtains and a simple hook and set about designing something in my style.
From the quick drawings in my sketch book I selected one that I thought would work and then made a pair in mild steel having first trialed them in plasticine in actual size. This also helped me decide what size/length steel to use. The process would help me decide how difficult they would be to make too and price accordingly. I rather liked my prototypes but unfortunately, I underestimated the fullness of the curtains so they did not hold back the weight of the curtains as they should. Luckily for me, I had a weekend trip planned to Melbourne which tied in perfectly for a visit to view the windows/curtains first hand in their natural setting.
This was of immense benefit to me. Now I could really visualise what was needed. The actual bracket top to bottom was a good size. I liked the hole placement and the way it looked when placed on the window frame. The thickness of steel and colour of the steel worked really well to contrast with the curtains. It was agreed that I would simplify the style of the tie back showing, by uncurling it and make it virtually a hand span length long to support all of the curtain behind it.
Now my challenge started. My starting length of steel grew by 250mm for each tie back. A jig would have to be made to get the exact curl on each one having first tapered each end to a fine point. On the opposite end I estimated and duplicated freehand into a circle shape and trued up each one on a small cone mandrel. I made a double jig to fit my flypress to stamp out equal spacing of holes and further accentuated using extra tooling under my power hammer. Next my maker͛s stamp mark was placed between each set of holes on each tie-back.
I tried making a jig for the curl to swirl round to the front but failed miserably to get it to work. I experimented for days for an easier solution. In the end, I trapped each one individually into a leg vise and pulled from back to front to create a space and then rigged up something under my flypress to give me the consistency I needed to maintain equal heights between each tie back. This worked quite well. The final finish on the steel was created with stove black polish and methylated spirits mixed together, applied using a toothbrush and left to dry, then buffed to give a beautiful graphite coloured lustre. Photographs were sent to the customer for approval and accepted.
If you have an idea for a custom made piece, please be in touch!