Modern Craftsmen: 1. wreathed handrail maker

One of the exciting byproducts of  the current fascination with interior design, and the high proportion of personal wealth that is poured into the property market,  is the resurgence of  beautiful hand made products for the home.  With the ever increasing demand for new  built homes,  these can be bland and featureless, lacking  the original features of period properties.    As a result there are a number of secret craftsmen working here in London to produce the exquisite door handles, staircases , paint effects and details that provide a house or flat with   interest and personality.

Today’s featured craftsman is Dinos Constantinou ,  who I met on site as he fitted a curved English oak handrail. The wooden tool  to right of the pliers is a carpenter’s mallet Dinos inherited, made of an  exceptionally hard wood called lignum vitae.

Propertyferret  seized an opportunity for a short interview.

PF.  Dinos, when a client looks at an architect’s plans and sees a big ticket item called  “wreathed handrail”, what is it exactly?

Dinos:  This will be a a craftsman built handrail which will have to be specially commissioned.  Hand-railing is not carpentry or joinery. In fact it is a specialist combination of very accurate geometry and wood turning.

PF.  How did you get started in the business and learn your craft?

Dinos:  I originally joined my brother-in-law’s firm H. Brettell & Sons , as a salesman. H. Brettell was Britain’s oldest wood turning firm, my brother in law being fifth generation. I was always keen on geometry at school and did  geometric puzzles for fun, so  I became fascinated by the geometric hand-railing the firm was making, tried my hand and it went from there

In the workshop working on  a challenging turn in the handrail

The finished article.  Beautifully crafted in a very tight space and waxed with natural beeswax.

 

 

By |May 28th, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Cavalry picnic on Portobello

Early in the morning, about once every six weeks, a small number of riders from one of the cavalry regiments trot up Portobello Road, presumably en route to ride out at Wormwood Scrubs or maybe just hacking round the streets.
Recently, on a sparkling spring morning, I heard the officer call a halt behind a MOD owned block of apartments that backs on Portobello. Out from the building came what I guessed to be a senior officer, and two pretty women carrying a picnic breakfast. There were pastries and coffees for the men – and even bowls of chopped carrots for the horses! Despite enquiries with ex-Army friends, I have been unable to establish which regiment this might be although I gather the Lifeguards ride black horses so this is one possibility. Any information readers can provide  is very welcome.

 

Chivalry is not dead! Watch carefully (apologies for the edge of the window in the frame) and see  one soldier dismount to give a female colleague a leg-up!

"Half turn right" - and off they go

 

 

 

 

By |May 6th, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment