The Over-designed Finial and the Suggestive Escutcheon


So, it looks a little over-designed…this finial on a 8–foot free standing handrail. But it was fun. The customer thought it was cool and best of all it was fun to do. And design had little to do with it. It was another sketch. This whole thing was a sketch, three short squiggles on a scrap of paper to three chalk lines on the floor under the lay-out table to this…


And then it came together piece by piece, element by element, from pictures in my head, sketched with a hammer on an anvil. There aren’t any solid joints here, only chain links, pivots, clevises and hinges. Everything just flopped and dangled until I laid 190 lbs of dead-weight on the lower end and drove a 1/4” wedge into one of the eyes in the telescoping trammel hook guy-rod that holds it down…the oldest trick in the bag. (If one can do the work with a wedge, its better than a weld.) The  longer, lower end of the rail is a double line of 3/4” round stock held together with wraps of 3/8’’ round in a variation of a Pre-Raphaelite painting of Cleopatra wearing a coiled snake arm band…the piece behind the Kabiri Blog title above.

And I always like to tie things down with “pooch-plate” escutcheons.


Pooch Plates are easy…hot cut through half the thickness of the escutcheon, use a narrow slit chisel to cut the rest of the way through, round it out with a drift. Then heat the plate and dimple it from the back with a ball peen over a block of wood. The vertical element here is a forge welded eye bolt with a rivet head behind the plate.

I lifted the design from Tom Joyce who used it to his usual beautiful effects on the iron work he created some years ago for Christ in the Desert Monastery near Abuquiu, NM. One time I asked a young woman smith who helped him on the project if the erotic aura of these elements wasn’t just a sly little joke on the monks. She was horrified. No one at Tom’s forge had ever realized they were pure lingam and yoni…the plates never would have been installed at the monastery if they had.

(Photos by Pam Reed and the author.)


One Response to “The Over-designed Finial and the Suggestive Escutcheon”

  1. Perhaps if they were called “cooch” plates, it would be more obvious?

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