The next time you open the kitchen flatware drawer, take a look at the drawer pull.
Is it shaped like a Morel mushroom? Or possibly a mule deer antler? Life doesn’t have to consist of round knobs and square pegs, and for Garrett and Beth Lowe, owners of Timber Bronze 53 in Wallowa, OR, it doesn’t.
“We hand craft solid, cast-bronze hardware and decorative accessories for log, timber frame, and other rustic homes,” says Beth. “We’re presently developing a line of farmhouse and rustic chic decor for a growing market.”
Timber Bronze Home Decor
A fifth-generation Wallowa resident, Beth moved back to the area with Garrett five years ago, and the couple looked for a business they could develop and expand in addition to their day jobs at a commercial fueling business in Wallowa. When they discovered Timber Bronze 53, a then ten-year-old company catering to the fast-growing home decor industry, they knew they had found their niche: a blend of art, home design, intense craftsmanship, and potential for continuous advancement.
There was also a huge learning curve, because hand crafting items in bronze — from doorbells to drawer pulls, from custom drapery posts to hat hooks, is not for the dilettante. The couple inherited an inventory of more than 60 different doorbell and knocker styles, plus 80 styles of door and drawer accessories for kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Quite fortunately, the original owner — who put the Lowes through an intense training period covering the processes he had developed over the years — was also extraordinarily organized:
“He included Excel spreadsheets that had everything from a customer’s birthday to how long it should take to put a screw in a hole,” Garrett says.
Wayfair, Amazon, Houzz
Within a short time of taking over the business, Beth and Garrett secured contracts from Wayfair, Houzz, and Amazon, the result of what Garrett calls a combination of chance and social media.
“Our oldest son was messing around with Twitter, I think — maybe Instagram — and somehow whatever he did caught the attention of one of the senior buyers at Wayfair. It wasn’t long after that that Houzz called, and not much longer after that I got a call from Amazon,” Garrett recalls.
“We’ve been quite fortunate.”
But fortune is only part of any human’s story, and Garrett and Beth, the latter who holds a degree in Kitchen and Bath Design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, juggle everything from production to shipping, from marketing to artistic design. Originally housing their business in an old hardware store — “complete with bats, creaky sloping floors and LOTS of character” — the couple presently manufactures out of several former farm buildings, including an old milking barn that also used to house pigs.
Creating Bronze Home Decor in an Old Dairy Barn
Oddly, it hosts the perfect temperature-controlled setting, Garrett explains, to create the lost wax castings that are the first part of a multi-step process requiring 5-6 weeks to complete. After creating the cast for a specified item, the couple takes the mold to Valley Bronze, a world-class bronze foundry 25 miles away in Joseph, OR. There begins an eight-step, three-week process to pour the design.
The couple then transports the newly bronzed units back to Wallowa, where they apply a decorative patina adding a deeper richness to the golden hue of the bronze. A protective coating ensures that the items successfully endure heavy or outdoor use.
In addition to selling through Wayfair, Amazon, and Houzz, the Lowes handle increasing orders for reproduction work — pulls for antique furniture — as well as custom design.
“We recently finished a job for a woman in the Midwest that included custom refrigerator, freezer, wine cooler, and dishwasher handles,” Garrett says. “That order also included 8-inch custom-made twig handles and about 100 pine cone knobs.”
Functional Artistry in Bronze Home Decor
So the drawer pull on your kitchen flatware drawer has the potential to not only be useful, but beautiful as well, a functional artistry that adds a unique touch to everyday life. For Garrett and Beth, providing such functional artistry is their unique, customized niche, and they fill it in a signature, distinctive manner.
“I think that just the fact that we strive to work off of solid business principles — not grow too fast, not spend money we don’t need to — things like that help set us apart,” Garrett says.
“We have products that fill a want, need or desire for the client, and we are continuing to branch out and step out somewhere into the unknown. We’re not afraid to tackle new things.”
Garrett and Beth Lowe of Timber Bronze are the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, July 16, 2018, through Saturday, August 11, 2018. The Lowes will join two other artists, Batik watercolor artist Denise Elizabeth Stone and Joyce Anderson Watercolors, at the Summer Celebration Art Show Saturday, July 21, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free Artisan Treats will be provided, as well as a free Steve Henderson fine art note card to each visitor.
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.