It’s not simple to be discovered when you’re a craftsperson working in a small town in Kentucky. However, after being in business for over 12 years, Maynard Studios is finally ready for the spotlight. Matthew and Karine Maynard create hand-crafted metalwork, and also their individually designed, hand-forged stair railings are authentic works of art.
The Maynards’ work is always tailored for their clients’ vision. “We told me on that we’d never do the exact same design two,” Matthew says. “nobody can point to a film and say, ‘I will take that one.’ Each railing has our handwriting, but it is the customer’s story.”
These photos highlight a number of the few projects and outline their work procedure, which may just motivate you to add artistic elements in unexpected places to your own house.
To discover a creative alternative for this staircase in Nashville, Tennessee, where the tread width was higher than 5 ft and therefore required a handgrip on either side, the Maynards approached the wall-mounted portion within a single railing.
“The newel post was built up in layers and sized to possess definite presence in the room, with a large package of twisted-round stock forming the upper part of the article,” explains Karine. “The ribbon drops were put to allow a grasping point on the bottom tread.” Through the years this sort of cascading detail at the onset of a newel post has turned into a style trademark of the Maynards’.
The majority of the couple’s railings are made of steel, which can be hand forged and welded, then wire brushed with a clear enamel finish.
This balcony is perched over a huge living area in Nashville and is 1 section of over 160 ft of railings in the house.
“Occasionally each piece moves through our hands over a couple times before it is complete,” says Karine. “Whether in steel, aluminum, copper or bronze, whatever arrives as raw stock. It’s then cut into the necessary lengths and sorted.”
She and Matthew work together to design and produce all of the studio’s custom bits. “The work is done by Matthew,” says Karine, “and we’ve got an additional pair of hands in the studio now: apprentice and metal sculptor Ben Beckett.”
Here, Matthew flattens a part after it’s been bent and shaped. “Due to the internal stresses caused by stretching and bending, the hot metal bends near what you’re looking for but must then be finessed into the last form,” says Karine. The layout outlines, attracted with bits of soapstone, are visible on the table.
“I’ve messed around with metal in 1 form or another since I was 11 or 12 years old,” Matthew says. “My grandfather owned a pair of novels called The Foxfire book series, which documented life in the Appalachian Mountains, and one of those chapters dealt with blacksmithing. I was intrigued, and my granddad let me set up a makeshift invent in his barn”
With this particular railing in Louisville, Kentucky, the customer was trying to find a design that closely followed conventional forms, yet comprised unique components that left no doubt it had been entirely handmade. “The S-scroll is a standard enough shape, but bundled together with it are small flamed-tongue shapes,” says Matthew.
This whimsical “tree house” railing (also in Louisville) with a hand-worked cedar handgrip was inspired by the customer’s memories of playing in the woods as a kid.
“The steel was forged and shaped to match the cedar handgrip, which is a meeting of six individual bits lap jointed, glued and doweled together by Matthew,” says Karine.
Six elements are being put together here to create 1 piece of a bigger railing. With a hammer, then Matthew bends the metal alloy into the desired shape.
Because they clearly can not touch the hot steel with gloves, they use tongs and clamps to hold the bits. After a bit is made into its final shape, it is cooled and constructed with the other parts.
The inspiration for this particular basket-weave railing in Lexington, Kentucky, “began with a box of elements found by the customer in the 1960s at the rear of an ironwork shop that was going out of business,” says Karine.
“The stampings were very old, very thick, and not at all like what you can buy now,” Matthew adds. “We inventoried every single slice and made them operate in a means that was compatible.”
This railing in Louisville was created for the house of 2 enthusiastic glass collectors. “The concept was to have a bit that was strong enough to stand on its own virtues, but not be so overpowering that it would compete with the sculptural items placed across the house,” says Karine.
Matthew forms the base of an acanthus leaf over the border of his anvil. In the background and around the anvil it is possible to see an assortment of different tongs, hammers and tools, which he can use to manipulate a sheet of metal into the desired shape.
“The process is truly a balance between your will and also the metal, finding the middle ground between your vision and the capacities of the metal to stretch, fold and shape,” says Karine.
“We were given a fantastic bit of artistic freedom with this design, which the homeowner asked be complimentary for his Salvador Dalí collection,” says Karine of the railing in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. “He desired areas of slipping, drippy details, but we had to make sure not to push the design as a whole into the domain of a cliché. Conventional lines were utilized and slipped into subtle echos of a few of Dalí’s iconic images. And yes, somewhere hidden away in there’s a small, melting clock”
This Louisville house “has small Craftsman-style trends here and there, and we used that as a beginning point,” says Matthew. “We tried to evolve out of that, since the house is really more French nation in style doing something strictly Craftsman would have looked out of place”
Created for a very formal dining room in Louisville, this railing introduces “different weights of line, in addition to slight and carefully placed angles, letting the right elements of the railing to possess visual interest and act as a supporting cast to the repeating organic components,” says Karine.
“A multilayered paint method was utilized to provide the fern fronds the sign of gold leaf, while remaining within budget,” she adds.
Karine and Matthew Maynard take a well-deserved break. The couple met in 2004 at the Burning Man festival in Nevada. Following a bit of long-distance relationship, Karine moved from Wisconsin to pursue her master of fine arts degree at the University of Kentucky. She worked with small metals and jewelry there and finally joined Matthew fulltime at the studio.
Blacksmith Extraordinaire Andrew Crawford’s Gates