Monday, January 30, 2012

World-class metalwork made by a local legacy: D Home Design Book 2012

Potter Art Metal Studios.
World-class metalwork made by a local legacy.

To tour the Potter family's body of work in Dallas - the intricate, wrought iron gates, copper awnings, and brass lanterns - is to discover the history of the city itself. Four generations worth of craftsmanship adorns the city's oldest churches, guards the most beautiful homes, and lights the grounds of Fair Park. Using the same traditional methods Richard Potter's grandfather used in the 1920's, Potter, creative director Izabela Wojcik, and the team of artisans design and hand-forge the highest quality metalwork in the world. From sconces and chandeliers to stair railings and furniture, the array of unique items Potter Art metal Studios can create is limitless. For example, the "fandelier" - a modern solution to a common design dilemma - is a ceiling fan concealed within a stunning chandelier structure. "It's all custom-made, not mass-produced," says Richard Potter. "Everything we do is refined, finished, and detailed." And to that end, the Potter studio invites everyone to visit the Design District shop to see today's master craftsmen at work. 

Potter Art Metal Studios
4827 Memphis Street | Dallas
D Home Design Book 2012
page 24 - Design Materials and Services.

IRON MAN - Dallas Modern Luxury

Dallas' own Potter universe is the hot spot in metal wizardry.
By Rebecca Sherman
Photography by Nick Prendergast

At 60 and working in what is generally considered to be a dying art, metal artisan Richard Potter Jr. is still in high demand.  He just completed a quartet of art nouveau-inspired entryways for The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton new Regency Row Homes in Uptown that include hand-forged steel and glass doors, aluminum and glass canopies, and brass lanterns.  He's also busy restoring dozens of ’30s-era bronze, copper and brass lanterns and chandeliers for Woodrow Wilson High School and J.L. Long Middle School, which will be reinstalled this spring. The lighting fixtures for the schools were originally crafted by his grandfather Henry C. Potter, who founded the family metalwork studio in 1920. Reviving the handwork created by his grandfather and father decades earlier is a situation in which Potter increasingly finds himself. After all, the patriarch of the Family was responsible for much of the fine ironwork found throughout the city, including homes designed by celebrated architects Charles Dilbeck and Clifford Hutsell, and the light fixtures at Fair Park, White Rock Lake, downtown Dallas and Highland Park Village. “Seems like I'm always working on something that my grandfather did years ago,” says Potter, who began learning the Family trade at ll. Potter Art Metal Studios does all its heavy forging on-site and includes a design workroom and Full-time metal sketch artist.  The company is one of the few in the country capable of producing a broad range of products, including lighting, stair railings, gates, doors, windows, furniture and gazebos in an array of metals. Many of the company’s 20 employees were trained by one Potter or another. The current Potter executive personally oversees every piece that's produced, and workers are highly skilled in hand repoussé, custom brass spinning and hand-forging of wrought iron. Some requests are intricate, like gargoyles, dragons, tree limbs or grapevines. For developer Trammell S. Crow, Potter Studios created a nature-inspired, polished steel fireplace surround with hidden compartments that took six months to make.  Other projects are so complex that they’re in the works for years.  A new client who is building a turreted castle on the Red River just hired the company to create hundreds of ironworks, including more than 50 chandeliers, 30 sconces, 30 lanterns, driveway gates, doors, drawer pulls, hinges and a pair of two-story iron trees that will support a room above. At this rate, another generation or two of Potters stands ready to take on restoration work should the massive project eventually need it. It's a good thing, then, that Potter's two sons and daughter already work at the company, and his 22-year-old triplet grandsons are learning the ropes during the summer. “There aren't schools for this kind of craftsmanship any longer. You almost have to grow up in the business to be able to do it,” he says.

Potter Art Metal Studios, 4827Memphis St., 214.821.1419,

Ponder The Muse: a blog by Nick Prendegast

A fun little blog post written by the photographer who shot our studio for the current issue of Modern Luxury Dallas:


Potter Art Metal Studios for Modern Luxury

I shot Richard Potter Jr and his fantastic crew for the current issue of Modern Luxury Dallas. Their facility is filled with thousands of interesting projects in various states of completion, and watching these works being made was absolutely compelling. This assignment was especially satisfying for me because it fit right into the personal series I am shooting about artists and craftsmen in their workspaces. My thanks to Richard and all the fine folks over at Potter Art Metal for their time and generosity. Such a blast...

(all images © Nick Prendergast)

Potter Art Metal fixes fixtures 80 years later

Brothers Baron Potter and Richard Potter III work on light
fixtures at their family business, Potter Art Metal Studios.
The 90-year-old company is restoring lights it
crafted generations ago. Photo by Can Türkyilmaz

Woodrow Wilson High School cost $700,000 to build, between 1926 and 1928, and it was the most expensive school building in Dallas. The school board hired Potter Art Metal Studios to craft detailed pendant lights and lanterns for the school’s exterior to give it distinctive ornamentation. And when J.L. Long Middle School opened in 1933, custom Potter fixtures graced its exterior, too.
Now both schools are undergoing renovations, and once again, the architects called on Potter to refurbish the light fixtures the family-owned company created more than 80 years ago. Richard Potter, the company’s third-generation owner, becomes animated talking about the project. Aside from approximately 30 outdoor fixtures for both schools, Potter also is refurbishing 21 lights from the Woodrow auditorium.
“They’ll be gorgeous,” he says. “You couldn’t appreciate the detail before.”
Workers clean and repair the pieces before adding a chemical patina to darken the details and finally, seal them with an acrylic lacquer. They’re also being rewired. A few of the fixtures must be replaced, and workers are replicating the 1920s designs.
The fixtures at Woodrow, built in the Elizabethan style, are gothic. And the fixtures from Long are art deco. The project is estimated to cost about $100,000. Potter says he doesn’t know how much the lights originally cost.
This isn’t the first time Potter has been asked to restore its own work, which appears in landmarks such as government buildings and White Rock Lake, as well as countless homes.
Unfortunately, the renovation project doesn’t have the funding to refurbish 10 art deco pendant lamps in the J.L. Long auditorium. They would cost about $5,000 a piece to restore, and the architects have opted to instead purchase new lights. But Potter and designer Izabela Wojcik are hoping that Long boosters might unite and somehow raise $50,000 to save the old light fixtures. For almost 80 years, Long students have been looking up at those artfully crafted pendants, and it would be a shame to replace them with something inferior.
“Off-the-shelf fixtures are not going to look as good,” Wojcik says. “These looked good 100 years ago, and they’re always going to look good.”
by Rachel Stone
February 2012
Living Local in Lakewood/East Dallas