Designing and carving commission project for Beacon Hill Books & Café
In association with Melissa Fetter owner of Beacon Hill Books & Café and Monika Pauli architect, we designed many beautiful sculptures for their new bookstore. It is located at 71 Charles Street in Beacon Hill, Boston MA.
When walking along Charles Street in Beacon Hill, one can connect with its ancient architecture. There are many shopfront to stare and to stop by but there is one that will definitely will attract attention the most.
It begins with a sculpted hanging sign featuring a squirrel named Paige. From the top of a book stacks, Paige is clearly visible to the passers by giving a first impression of the magical atmosphere of the bookstore.
A long signage with carved and gilded letters displays the name of the bookstore and café. It is fixed onto the 18 th century brickwork of the building and blends very well.
Inside the bookstore:
The interior retains all of the features designed in the 1800, a priority for the owner. All of the additional decorative elements were carefully designed with this in mind. In one of the rooms, a new carved frieze work displays a fine typical example.
It is said that the original previous owner was Sir Joslin Gilman. He was a prominent globemaker.
So we took the challenge to designed a globe of the Americas. The carving applique has its part in the frieze work.
Each room has its own fireplace mantle and its own theme with specific carvings . For example in the children tea room, there is a fireplace mantlepiece decorated by a center piece. It portrays two young squirrels holding on to their books and there is even a butterfly landing onto the book cover.
The Café restaurant:
A flight of stairs below is the Café restaurant and its fireplace features "un art de la table" center piece theme. This includes an interlaced ribbons and flatware with tea cups finely carved.
All furniture and book shelves were beautifully designed so to tie up with the architectural context some oak acorns applique were made for this purpose.
List of carvings made in my studio now decorating the bookstore:
1, Hanging sign sculptures; 2, Acorns ; 3, Quarter board sign with carved V-cut gilded letters ; 4, Palladian inspired frieze work applique carvings; 5, Fireplace mantlepiece carvings; 6, Garden bird carving
Hanging sign sculptures in mahogany for Beacon Hill Books and Café
Three stages were necessary to produce the hanging sign: First a 1:10 clay model - 2 : Half-scale maquette or mock up - 3: Carving full-size - 4 : Painting
1/10 scale clay model based from Client's logo. 4" x 3" x 2"
Half-scale maquette or mock up. 12" x 10"1/2 x 6"
Carving full-size. 24" x 21" x 12"
Painting by Monika Pauli architect
Working progress video
Description about video content
The video shows the signage carving project from its very beginning until completion.
1: A solid block of African mahogany was carefully assembled, glued and delivered to my shop by the builders. I could imagine that the illustration would make sense when looking at the carving blank.
2: The theme logo was designed by the client and architect. In total I produced two clay models based from the illustrated logo.
3: A first small clay model was produced to set a feel for the theme.
4: A second clay model helped me to contextualizing the design and its geometry.
Knowing that the signage was going to be visible from both sides, I was curious to see how the illustration would look. But most importantly, how would the meeting points were going to be in relation to the center line axis.
This is when a clay model can help not just for aesthetic reasons but for technical purposes. So I though that the bookstacks could be carved in perspective and Paige the squirrel on the round. This in hope that the mirror image challenge would work.
Another important parameter was to evaluate an appropriate distance and view angle from were the signage was going to be seen, this involved many "points de fuite".
5: The rest was easy, the illustration could be traced onto the block of mahogany. Then the removal process took place using a chainsaw until there were enough wood left for carving by gouges.