Focus on Custom Work: The Giant Decorative Birdcage
We love taking on custom work, both for variety’s sake and for the satisfaction of rising to a new set of challenges. With our full custom shop and wide range of tools and expertise, we can build just about anything that involves metalwork— and we specialize in the creation, reproduction and modification of unique designs.
It all started when we were talking to Bobbie Olson, a senior designer for V Starr Interiors, the design firm owned by Venus Williams and located in West Palm Beach. Bobbie had seen a birdcage in a hotel in Macau, and thought this would make a striking centerpiece to an elegant entryway that they were designing.
The finished birdcage is 4‘ square by 6.5’ tall.
"Could you build one like it?” she asked us. Reproducing one of a kind fixtures is something of a specialty here at Authentic Designs, and we said yes. In fact, many years before, we had built something along those lines back when I was working at the shop with my father, and I dug up an old polaroid (featuring my sons, aged 3 and 6 at the time) and sent it to her.
In return, she sent us the photo she had taken at the hotel. Starting from that two-dimensional image, we translated it to a blueprint and ultimately a 3 dimensional object that was faithful to the photograph and consistent to scale. We spent several weeks doing layouts on paper prior to cutting or bending any brass.
The birdcage is built using square and round brass tubing, with brass sheet metal at the bottom and top. The base and scrollwork were fabricated from welded iron. Decorative elements, including finials, door hinges, and latch, were fabricated entirely by hand to meet the specs of the original.
Constructing the dome was an interesting challenge; we created a simple jig that allowed us to suspend the top pan, and uniformly bend and insert all 54 brass rods.
Every step of the way we were blessed with the generous and knowledgeable guidance and hands-on expertise of David Carr, formerly of Hubbardton Forge, a retired process engineer and efficiency expert.
Please note: this birdcage was built for decorative purposes only. No birds were harmed in the process. Actual birds can be quite clever: some even learn how to pick locks in order to escape.