Location: Florence, WI, United States
Completion date: 2011
Artwork budget: $50,000
Benson Designs LLC
I had worked with this client on their previous home. They came to me when they were designing their retirement home and wanted me to create a spiral staircase that would be the focal point of the home. We met several times and I visited the homesite to get a feel for the land. Since the home is located overlooking a small northern Wisconsin lake and they treasure their time there we decided on a nature themed balustrade.
Starting up the stairs the steel newel post is forged and fabricated to look like an old weathered submerged cedar stump. Under the water are fish and water plants. A soapstone otter, a personal memento of the homeowners, lies on its back on a copper lily pad. As you climb the stairs you take a journey from the lake below up through many of the flora and fauna found on the property.
There are deciduous and coniferous trees, ferns and wildflowers. In amongst the vegetation are a woodpecker, caterpillar, hummingbird, snake, turtle and other critters. Sitting atop the central column is a bald eagle looking out over the lake at the wild pair that nests near the lake.
A large black cherry tree from the property was milled into the stair treads. Steel, wood, copper and stone were used to create this unique staircase.
The clients wanted the staircase to be the focal point of the inside of their home. The home was designed around this spiral staircase.
The client was involved with input as to which flora and fauna they had observed on the property and wanted included in the design. I worked closely with the contractor to mill the treads and central column, and to coordinate my installation.
We milled two central columns. One was installed in the home early in the framing stage of construction. The second was set up in my shop so we could fabricate the staircase in shop. When the tread supports and handrail were fabricated, they were disassembled and reassembled on site. Panel frames were tack welded to assure a perfect fit. Everything was brought back to the shop and the decorative elements forged, fabricated and added to the panels.