Summer of Railings

Do two sets of railings make for a summer of railings? Does making them at the peak of the summer heat in a sweltering studio with just a few fans blowing on the blacksmiths make it count? Yeah, we thought so too.

{Click through the slideshows to see works-in-progress. Click on the single images to enlarge.}

We're really enjoying these minimal, open designs. This first small handrail was installed in a porch with slate steps.

This second railing design required a pair to complete the sweet little brick path from the street up to the house. Notice the detail at the end of the handrails. This was a particularly fun design!

If you're in need of custom railing (now or dreaming for the future), take a look through our Architectural Ironwork gallery and the railing posts on our blog. We love to create custom designs to fit a client's needs, and we can usually provide a few options to fit a variety of  budgets.

Company Values

Company values or culture are usually topics touted by larger corporations, but even in a micro-business like Phoenix Handcraft, we share certain values that create a company culture.

Environmental Sustainability

Our number one value, priority, and mission is to create work that is environmentally sustainable.

  • We use inherently durable materials. Steel, glass, ceramic, and even wood are long-lasting materials that degrade slowly if at all. When they do break down, the by-products are not toxic to the environment. In addition, did you know steel is the world's most recycled material?
  • We design and create work that is made to last for generations, not end up in a landfill after a few months or years of use.
  • We source our materials from local Richmond and American small, independent companies wherever possible. 
  • We strive to minimize material waste in the production of our work.
  • We use non-toxic, low VOC finishes and adhesives in all our work. We dispose of any chemicals used responsibly.
  • We use recycled/ reclaimed and biodegradable materials in our retail packaging and shipping.
  • We're enrolled with Dominion Green Power, which offsets our energy use through renewable energy certificates.
Our mosaic coat racks combine traditional glass and ceramic with reclaimed material like the floral-patterned plates here. All our frames are made from reclaimed wood.

Our mosaic coat racks combine traditional glass and ceramic with reclaimed material like the floral-patterned plates here. All our frames are made from reclaimed wood.

Community

Creating connection and community is another important part of the work we do as a small business.

  • We work with local groups such as RVA Makers and Richmond Craft Mafia to support their missions in a variety of ways.
  • Collaborations with local artist and maker friends like Join or Die Knives and Christina Boy Design are a fun way to get out of our comfort zone and create something brand new. 
  • We create one-of-a-kind custom fixtures that enhance the public spaces of local businesses such as Shagbark Restaurant and Vasen Brewing Company to .
  • We create events that showcase independent handmade businesses for the public by collaborating with local businesses like La Diff and Crossroads Art Center.
  • We bring our work out into the public and talk with people face to face at local art shows such as the 43rd Street Festival of the Arts and the Carytown Artisan Market.
  • We host events in our studio so we can invite people into our space to see how we work.
  • We spotlight the companies we work with and events we attend on our blog using the Local Love category and the community tag.
We worked with La Diff owners Sarah Paxton and Andy Thornton and David Bohnhoff of Bohnhoff Furniture and Design to organize Made in RVA, a month-long show featuring the work of local furniture makers and designers.

We worked with La Diff owners Sarah Paxton and Andy Thornton and David Bohnhoff of Bohnhoff Furniture and Design to organize Made in RVA, a month-long show featuring the work of local furniture makers and designers.

Financial Accessibility

We started our business not long before Occupy Wall Street movement began. Around the same time, friends & family began requesting items that would fit a leaner budget. We realized that though we tend to make high-end work, we don't want to serve only the wealthiest 1 or 2% of American citizens. With that in mind, we developed smaller, more personal items that we can sell at a manageable price.

Authenticity

For us, being authentic means we are reliable, responsive, and accountable. We do what we say we're going to do. We keep the lines of communication open. If we mess up, we admit it and make amends. It also means we speak our truth about who we are outside of the business. The lines become very blurry between "family" and "business" when you own a small family business!

Passion

It might go without saying coming from a business built around art, but we are passionate about what we do! We love the act of creating our work, we love owning a small business, and we love being part of the local artist and maker community in Richmond. Most of all, we are absolutely passionate about creating a well-made, beautiful item that fits our customer's needs exquisitely.

 

These five values account for our greatest priorities in our lives and work over the last seven years. But there's more, of course. Other companies' core values inspire us and resonate with who we are and how we operate. These include "Do more with less" (Zappos), "courage and love" (Whole Foods) and "You can make money without doing evil" (Google).

And there are other values we aspire to incorporate more fully into our work such as equality, diversity, and lifting up those who've been denied opportunity. Just as a person continues to grow and evolve throughout their life, so does a business. And we have many years ahead of us to grow our list of core values!

 

Special thanks to our friend Erin McRoberts of Awl Snap for inspiring this post with her own blog post about responsibility practices in her business.

Fixtures for Vasen Brewing Company

This summer we've been working on a series of fixtures for our friends and neighbors at Vasen Brewing Company. Their beautiful new taproom features the fine work of many local Richmond companies and makers. Stop by to take it all in and grab a pint of one of their specialty farmhouse ales!

We worked with lighting designer Wendy Umanoff to create this large, forged steel chandelier that hangs in the entrance of the taproom. Scroll though the photos to see a few our process shots.

Forged steel chandelier by Umanoff Design and Phoenix Handcraft. Photo by Umanoff Design

When it came time to create a sign for the brewery, our signature folded steel bowls and wall sculptures provided just the right inspiration.

Forged sign on reclaimed wood at the Vasen tasting room

Our next project for the taproom was a foot rail for the bar. We forged the foot rail from heavily textured solid steel round bar, along with coordinating brackets to hold it in place.

Forged steel footrail at the Vasen tasting room bar

Forged steel footrail at the Vasen tasting room bar

And last but certainly not least, we forged steel brackets to support the live-edge drink rails created by our friends at Surface Architectural. Bonus peek of the talented Emily Herr's mural in the background.

Forged bar brackets in the Vasen tasting room

Forged bar brackets in the Vasen tasting room