Category Archives: A Day in the Life of a Metal Worker

Aluminum and Stainless Steel Cable Rail on Waterfront

Aluminum & Stainless Steel Cable Rail
Aluminum & Stainless Steel Cable Rail

A custom balcony or stair railing can always add beauty to a building or home and the Renaissance Man team enjoy elaborate and ornate projects, but sometimes the location itself emanates such beauty that the design goal is simply to add a safety feature with as little interference as possible, which is most definitely the case on this project.

Aluminum & Stainless Cable Railing
Aluminum & Stainless Cable Railing

Pictured here at the Preisser Residence, facing the Gulf of Mexico are two balconies on a stately three-story home embraced in a wreath of semi-tropical foliage.

Cable Rail Tension Ends
Cable Rail Tension Ends

We used an ultra-smooth, comfortable aluminum framework with a black finish just glossy enough to catch the sun, supplemented between the posts with stainless steel cabling that is stretched tight at either end and passes seamlessly through precisely placed holes at the mid-posts, secured by bolts visible only by a thin steel collar and softly rounded divot. The measurements echo the geometry of the stair and balcony planks.

Measurements Echo Structural Geometry
Measurements Echo Structural Geometry

A design like this is not only a near-transparent safety feature, but it is also virtually maintenance-free; corrosion/weather resistant and easy to clean. Click on any image for a full slideshow tour of the completed project.

Steel Cable passing through Mid-Rails
Steel Cable passing through Mid-Rails
Meeting of Cable and Aluminum Bar Designs
Meeting of Cable and Aluminum Bar Designs
Cable Rail Secured with Divots
Cable Rail Secured with Divots
Cable Rail Secured with Divots
Cable Rail Secured with Divots – Detail
Wreath of Foliage
Wreath of Foliage
Symmetry
Symmetry
Geometry Matches Structural
Geometry Matches Structural
Catching the Sun's Light
Catching the Sun’s Light
Soft Corners
Soft Corners
Near Transparency
Near Transparency
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A Vessel Designed to Sink, Still Afloat

DSCN4171Realistically, many of us will not be diving down into the Gulf of Mexico to explore the Renaissance Man crew and Frank Patti’s latest endeavor, but it’s not too late to see this magnificent project in person because she’s docked behind the Joe Patti seafood market from now ’till Mid-June. It’s already received a bunch of attention from local press, and locals have been requesting as many memorial plaques as we can keep up with. Some of the plaques may even even end up being mounted under water.

DSCN4163Here are a few photos we snapped, but especially with the beautiful weather, we hope you find a few minutes to check out the project for yourself down on the waterfront. In case you don’t know, Joe Patti is at the southernmost point of A Street, where it intersects with Main.

It will be interesting, for those who do dive the reef, to see how the colors look under water as opposed to above. Pensacola BeachImagine sitting down for an underwater cocktail with friends at this miniature Florabama. Might even run into a mermaid or merman out looking for a hot date, but be careful if you ever want to walk again, ’cause love can be tricky and you may end up with a tail in place of legs. Pensacola Beach Water TowerBut if you can keep the old heart from getting the best of you, you may want to suggest a submerged virtual tour of the area including a visit to Pensacola Beach, a historic walk – or swim – through some local history including some ghost ships, the five flags which have flown over the city and maybe even catch a blue angels air show before calling it a day (or night).

DSCN4269DSCN4260As you may know, you can click on any of the images to the side and above this writing to view a slideshow of the project and of course we appreciate your comments, questions, confusion and even voiced resentment – we know we know – a lot to be jealous of but Renaissance Man Inc has been years in the making and not everything we get to do is quite this cool.

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Feel free to contact us if you’re interested in finding out about purchasing a memorial plaque, or contact Emerald Coast Keeper directly and we’ll get you set up.

Call Sava Varazo at (850) 712-9566 to Request a Memorial Plaque.



 

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Collaboration with Frank Patti on The Joe Patti Memorial Reef Project

Frank Patti, Jr.
Frank Patti, Jr. poses with the stainless steel Joe Patti sign.

Frank Patti, Jr. (of the Patti family) has a really awesome shipyard on the northern end of Bayou Chico, in which he does things like making two of the most powerful tugboats in history. So we’re pretty psyched to be collaborating with Patti Marine Enterprises, along with the Emerald Coastkeeper organization, in what is turning out to be one of the most interesting projects we’ve done yet; an artificial reef, decorated by original Kevin Marchetti sculptural stainless steel figures.

Kevin and Frank Discuss the Sinking
Kevin and Frank Discuss the Sinking

The structural framework of the “Joe Patti Memorial Reef” consists of a 175′ barge, donated by Frank Patti, Jr., which will be sunk at a location 41/2 miles southeast of Pensacola Pass in 55 to 60 feet of water – easily accessible even novice recreational divers. The unique aspect about this project will be the structures welded to the deck, which will bring more marine life. The images will encompass area landmarks and personal plaques, telling the story of iconic people, places and history of our beloved Pensacola. Divers will see replicas of the Joe Patti’s sign, the Pensacola Beach Ball and Beach Sign, the Blue Angels in formation, the Five Flags of Pensacola, and other area landmarks like the FloraBama, and they are selling memorial plaques, so you or your idea can also live on in perpetuity (see details below). All structures will be cut from 3/8″ stainless steel and welded double continuous to the deck. The steel module is 175′ long, 80′ wide and 10′ deep with large and small openings cut into the deck to enhance all types of marine life.

The 175' Barge
The 175′ Barge, still above water.

Frank Patti, Jr. developed the concept for the aging barge which has been used as a floating work platform for the past 20 years plus. Frank Patti, Sr. acquired the barge after it was used to repair the Pensacola Bay Bridge which had been damaged by the tug and barge accident in 1989. Frank Jr. hauled the barge out of the water twice for repairs, but decided a third time would be meaningless. Instead of scrapping the structure, he decided to do something significant. He wanted to honor the Patti family, who are legendary in the marine and fishing industries, and incorporate other landmarks that are synonymous with the area. Sava Varasso, of the “Coast Keepers”, is spearheading the project and donations from individuals that will help fund restoration projects, such as sea grass and shoreline restoration, and monitoring of impaired bodies of water.

Ready for Your Plaque
Ready for Your Plaque

Initially, a basic 2-foot-by-3-foot plaque costs $600 and a custom one costs $1,000.
After the first 40 plaques, the cost will be higher, though how much higher has not been determined.
People and businesses who buy plaques will receive a year Emerald Coastkeeper membership. For details or to order a plaque, call Sava Varazo, Coastkeeper director, at (850) 712-9566.

What other area landmarks or organizations to you think should be represented on the reef?

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Historic Cast Iron and Rivoted Steel at the Maitland Art Center

Antique Steel and Cast Iron Metalwork at Maitland Art Center
Antique Steel and Cast Iron Metalwork at Maitland Art Center

The Renaissance Man team have completed antique metal restoration work on another recognized Florida State Historic Site. The Maitland Art Center was founded as an art colony in 1937 by visionary American artist and architect, André Smith (1880-1959). Their slogan is Discover, Engage, Inspire and we were honored and thrilled to be engaged for the restoration of their wrought iron entrance gate. The Art Center is one of the few surviving examples of “Mayan Revival” or fantasy architecture in the Southeast, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Antique Metalwork in the Pensacola  Shop
Back in the Pensacola Shop

It is, as they say, a small world and those who are involved in Florida’s historic art and architecture are a closely knit family so it ended up being though our work with the Pensacola Lighthouse Museum that Casey Jones of the Art Center was able to track down a shop with the experience to handle the restoration of such a valued historic landmark as not only a fence and gate of André Smith’s design, but an element of the center in which his life’s work was culminated.

Antique Metalwork Restoration in Progress
Restoration in Progress Back at the Shop

For this project, Kevin ended up transporting the historic metalwork hundreds of miles back to the Pensacola shop for the restoration of the historic riveted steel and cast iron fancywork and gate. The metalwork needed to be first sandblasted, then treated with two different compounds. First a tannic acid treatment for rust removal, and secondly a bath of phosphoric acid, which transforms the iron oxide  created by rusting to iron phosphate, which creates it’s own protective coating on the iron and steel.

Finally the historic metalwork was ready to be primed and painted in colors matching the original. The re-installation was assisted by Maitland Art Center’s own Mike DiSimone, who had been so helpful on the initial trip, that Renaissance Man asked if he would be willing to lend his skills in the projects completion.

We’re including a few more images of the antique steel and cast iron metalwork here as well as some additional pics to give you an idea of the magnificence of this historic location. Click on any image for slideshow and comments are always welcomed.

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Antique Wrought Iron Restoration at Pensacola Lighthouse Museum

Pensacola Lighthouse Interior Lenses
Pensacola Lighthouse Interior Lenses

Recently we were contacted by Matt Kuehne of the Pensacola Lighthouse Museum and asked to do some evaluation and potential restoration of the antique metalwork on the lighthouse.

Renaissance man has done quite a bit of restoration and repair of antique wrought iron metal work over the years and we were particularly excited by this project because of it’s historic significance… not to mention the romance of all things nautical.

The first stage in the process of a restoration project such as this is to identify the type of metal which we are working with. All irons and steels are simply iron ores with different carbon content and the level of carbon in wrought iron is very low. Its fibrous appearance is because of the oxidized metal impurities, or slag in the iron. Antique wrought iron work is usually identifiable by a lack of welding at the connections as compared with steel. By the time welding was invented wrought iron had gone out of style in favor of the stronger modern steels.

Wrought and Cast Iron Stairs at Pensacola Lighthouse
Stair Treads

Back in 1859, when this lighthouse was built as a guiding beacon to ships near the Panhandle’s coast, the stairs were probably fashioned from iron ore processed in a bloomery, where the hot iron would be fashioned into sheets or rods of different sizes and shapes after having been drawn from the smelting oven. The iron would then be re-heated until glowing red hot, held with heavy iron tongs and worked gradually into shape with a variety of pounding, shaping and turing tools.

Antique Metal Restoration at Pensacola Lighthouse
James & Kevin at top of Pensacola Lighthouse

Antique wrought iron is actually more similar to cast-iron than steel and though not as strong as steel, is more resistant to corrosion. But 150 years of salty, humid air will certainly take a toll and unfortunately the metalwork in recent years had been poorly maintained and we identified many issues to be addressed. After confirming that the lighthouse material was in fact antique wrought and cast iron, we made a priority of repairing the broken railing sections in the crows nest at the lighthouse’s top.

Damaged Antique Metalwork
Damaged Antique Metalwork

The next phase was to identify all of the issues weakening the metalwork on the lighthouse and propose a strategy to the lighthouse keepers. Significant problems were found at the joining of the antique cast iron stair treads and the brick lighthouse walls, where the limestone in the mortar between the bricks caused condensation which lead to significant rusting.

Antique Wrought and Cast Iron Stairs
Antique Wrought and Cast Iron Stairs

The approved recommendation included a full scraping and removal of loose rust flakes and chunks, and a rust treatment with a tannic acid-based rust neutralizer, followed by weld repairs and replacement of any metalwork that was beyond repair. Finally we treated every inch of the metalwork with a coat of red rust preventative oil-based primer and a topcoat of an oil-based black enamel.

With proper maintenance the restored antique wrought and cast iron metalwork at the Pensacola Lighthouse should hold up for at least another hundred years.

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Aluminum and Canvas Tension Awning at the Sunset Grille

sunset grille steel aluminum canvas awning
View from Dining Deck

The aluminum and canvas tension awning developed by Kevin Marchetti and Tim Campbell is a good fit for many projects due to it’s combination of economy, ease of use and sleekness of design, and the Renaissance Man Metal Fabrication team were recently called on by the Sunset Grille at Holiday Harbor Marina (14050 Canal A Way, Pensacola, FL 32507) to add a set of stainless steel and aluminum frames stretching bright golden Sunbrella® fabric canvas (which holds a 7 year warranty).

Tension Awning Detail
Tension Awning Detail

One of the benefits of this aluminum awning design is the ease by which any slack in the canvas tension can be pulled out simply by rotating the nuts on the steel tension bars. The curved bracket not only adds esthetic appeal, but the added strength of an oblique arch.

This particular job required a workaround at the point where the stainless steel awning brackets are secured to the building’s structural framework so as not to interfere with the clear curtain enclosure.

Workaround for Clear Curtain Enclosure
Workaround for Clear Curtain Enclosure

So we used small T-shaped brackets which attach flat behind the plastic curtains, then thin out to come between them, and spread into the platform in the picture, to which the awning brackets themselves are secured.

The striking visual transformation achieved with the addition of these aluminum and canvas tension awnings can be measured in the comparative before and after photos at the bottom of the page. Please feel free to add your comments below and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or if you are looking for an affordable option in custom awning work.

Sunset Grille Before and After
Sunset Grille Before and After Awning Addition

 

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Fabricating a New World from the Raw Metals of Last Year

To say that 2012 was an easy year would be a stretch of the truth. The Renaissance Man metal fabrication team have had our share of personal challenges this past year and like the rest of the Western World, we are still working within the confines of a struggling economy, but it’s also been one of our most rewarding years to date in terms of creative opportunities.

Fuego Lit at Night
Fuego Lit at Night

Having Kevin’s seventeen foot tall aluminum FUEGO sculpture on permanent display at the foot of the Three Mile Bridge in Gulf Breeze has brought us a great deal of attention, and we are also grateful to have been involved in the design and fabrication of our dear friend Lou-Mitchell Courtney’s STARLIGHT sculpture, in which we rendered a three foot model from her concept sketches which was ultimately produced as a large stainless steel sculpture.

We recently had some photos of the two sculptures captured by Jef Bond, which we share with you here, and the sculpture was featured on the cover of Gulf Breeze Magazine, with an article about our work inside.

The year also yielded a more pragmatic collaborative effort in which we worked with local canvas master, Tim Campbell in the development of a sleek, ergonomic and economical awning design, which is included in the new Aqua Decor & Design location for which Renaissance Man custom designed double-swing gates as well. Click here for a look at their awesome new developing location. We’ve enjoyed working with Liz and the crew there.

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Aluminum Gates and Awnings for Pensacola’s Aqua Decor & Design

Aqua Decor & Design Gate Handles
Aqua Decor & Design Gate Handles

Aqua Pool and Patio on Old Palafox Street  have been the most popular pool company in Pensacola for over 50 years and now it’s owners Vince and Shawna Fisher are opening a furniture and design business with Liz Taylor called Aqua Decor & Design. They wisely enlisted Renaissance Man to design and fabricate the awnings and gates for the new building on 9th Avenue (just north of Cervantes Street) where it will be located.

Aqua Aluminum and Canvas Awning Detail
Aqua Awning Detail

The gates combine natural cumaru hardwood (also known as Brazilian teak) with cut and bent aluminum (finished in black) and the aluminum and steel awnings represent the first use of a collaborative design with canvas-master, Tim Campbell of Islander Marine Canvas Shop. The awning design frame combines aluminum framing with sleek steel tension rods so that the canvas tension can be precisely adjusted.

 

Front View of Aqua Awning
Front View of Aqua Awning

The arms of the awning feature a slight curve creates a softer look and feel which is especially visible in a head on view. The  five inch thick gates themselves are composed of an aluminum framework that combines bended and cut pieces to create the three-dimensional curvature giving the old-world style to the cumuru hardwood lumber strapped together with stainless steel bolts.

Left Aqua Aluminum and Cumaru Gate Detail
Left Aqua Aluminum and Cumaru Gate Detail

The acorn nuts initially intended for use on the inside of the gates added to the design so they are what is seen against the black finish of the aluminum straps on the outside.

Click on any image for a slideshow view and there are more images of the project below. As always we appreciate the opportunity and we welcome your questions and comments below and feel free to contact us any time.

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Hi-Detail Graphic Tour of the Fuego Sculpture

The towering seventeen foot aluminum Fuego sculpture in Gulf Breeze is hard to capture in one image, so here is a series of detail photographs by Jef Bond which begin to convey it’s content. Click for slideshow:

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Gulf Breeze Sculpture Number Two: Starlight

Starlight by Lou-Mitchell Courtney
Starlight by Lou-Mitchell Courtney

Earlier this year Kevin Marchetti’s, “Fuego” sculpture was unveiled as the inaugural sculpture of the Art for Gulf Breeze project and Kevin’s friend Lou-Mitchell Courtney is the fellow artist who had originally put Kevin together with the Gulf Breeze committee. As this blog has mentioned before,  Kevin and the Renaissance Man Crew were also to be an integral part of the Lou-Mitchell Courtney offering, “Starlight”, which was unveiled this past Wednesday.

Kevin and Lou-Mitchell Courtney have been involved with each others careers for many years now going back to their time together as colleagues in a regional artists guild. Lou-Mitchell Courtneys’ classical art training was in painting and sculpting, concentrating on landscape and the human figure. She had spent seven years in the furniture industry, designing and building original sculptural prototypes for the companies Lane, Basset Glass, Thomasville (Four Corners Collection) and Casa Bique, among others, at which point she was a member of the American Society of Furniture Designers.

Lou-Mitchell Courtney
Lou-Mitchell Courtney

Courtney’s primary medium is clay, and this collaboration with Kevin and Renaissance Man allowed her to design a sculpture on paper – as she would have in the clay medium – then have a model and final product produced in stainless steel.

Kevin offered design input on the legs and base of the sculpture, and Roger Craft – who had done the engineering work on Fuego – helped with the structural engineering of Starlight.

The sculpture is rendered in stainless steel with a concrete base, and stands twenty-two feet tall. The upper part being marine grade 3/16 steel, and the bottom 1/4″ 304 stainless. Lighting is an LED system that transitions between warm red and cool blue-white hues.

Renaissance Man Crew Erecting the Steel Starlight Sculpture
Renaissance Man Crew Erecting the Steel Starlight Sculpture

Courtney describes the design as an abstract that allows viewers to find their own personal meaning.
“I am interested in how our perception of those shapes can grab submerged memories and feelings and bring them to the surface for examination and, in the process of turning them over, imbue them with new meaning”.

Director from AppRiver posing with the “Starlight” sculpture model.
Director from AppRiver posing with the “Starlight” sculpture model.

The cost of the sculpture is being underwritten by Gulf Breeze-based AppRiver. The company was founded in 2002 and maintains multiple, secure data centers in the United States, Europe and Asia.

We are grateful for yet another wonderful opportunity to dedicate our practical and creative energies into beautifying the region. Remember, you can click on any image to view story as slideshow and as always we welcome your questions and comments.

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