The word found has many meanings; one of which means to melt metal and pour it into a mould, a foundry therefore is a place where metal is founded or melted and poured into decorative moulds.
Established by Pierre Emmanuel Guerin in 1857, P.E Guerin is the oldest decorative hardware firm in the United States and the only metal foundry in New York City. One of the first pioneers in artistic metalwork in NYC, Guerin’s legacy can still be found in various buildings, parks and influential residences throughout the city and the country. A family company at its core, today, P.E Guerin is owned and directed by Pierre Emmanuel’s great grandnephew, Andrew F. Ward.
The New York Studio recently visited the foundry at its current location on Jane Street in Greenwich Village to discover more about the metal process and delve into the archive of beautiful decorative hardware. A world away from the hubbub of NYC, P.E Guerin is like stepping back in time filled with more than 80 craftspeople from around the world diligently working on exquisite designs using the same techniques the foundry was built on.
Using the process of sand casting, sand is hand pressed into a steel frame before having the decorative mould pressed into the frame. Any excess sand is carved away before finer sand is then used to create false cores which are created in order to remove the mould from the sand without damaging the original piece. This process is continued until the entire pattern is covered with false cores. These cores are then removed and used as the mould so you have an exact replica of the original decorative mould. The mould is then placed within a very hot oven for 10-12 hours to bake; once this has been formed molten bronze is poured into the solid mould, creating your desired object. The piece is then brushed and polished, ready to be used.
The beauty of this technique is that it's entrenched in history; whether you're commissioning something for a high-rise New York building or you're after a one-off door knocker for your country home, P.E Guerin will use techniques unchanged since the nineteenth century, following in the footsteps of generations of skilled craftsmen.