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BARGAINS / GERI COOK

From Classical to Whimsical : Peter Martin's showroom offers wrought-iron samples at nearly wholesale prices. He takes custom orders as well.

October 07, 1994|GERI COOK

NORTH HOLLYWOOD — Whenever the consumer can deal directly with the maker of a product, a bargain often results. Such is the case with Peter Martin, an artisan whose designs in wrought-iron furniture and accessories are sold by retailers across the country.

Samples and custom pieces are sold at close to wholesale prices at Martin's studio and showroom in North Hollywood. Martin Iron Designs is a full line of wrought-iron pieces, ranging from the classical to the whimsical.

Samples of Martin's designs are on the showroom floor, a pebbled semi-outdoor area (wear flats). One of the most unusual pieces is a rectangular (or square, depending on your specifications) coffee table in his Branding Iron design. A three-inch band of iron is worked into brands of famous Western ranches, including Theodore Roosevelt's, and as many as a dozen brands can be worked around a table. If you have your own brand (or why not make one up?), it can be added to the table's design. This is $385 without the glass top; it would probably retail for at least $700. End tables that retail for about $500 run $285.

A catalogue of Martin's creations is available, and if you still don't see what you're looking for, Martin will work with you on a custom piece.

For custom work, bring in your measurements, sketch or photograph and plan on a four- to six-week turnaround to translate from one dimension to three dimensions. Many of these designs are exclusive, so you won't see them in other catalogues or stores. Fifteen finishes are available.

Chandeliers can be made in any size or style. A simple design would be around $300, although Martin prefers creating more detailed ones. An ornate lighting fixture could cost up to $1,000, but keep in mind that at an upscale home furnishings store or through a decorator you would pay 40% to 50% more.

Martin has a fondness for chairs. "The back of a chair is like an artist's palette," he says. His cat chair reflects this penchant: The body and head of a cat form the back, the forepaws are the arms and a tail reaches down and twines around a leg. Expect to pay about $650 retail for this, but at the factory it's $325.

Martin practices the Old World art of hand-forged wrought iron, which means the metal is heated to red hot and formed into designs with an anvil and hammer while it is malleable. Many wrought-iron pieces in stores are hollow pieces of metal welded together. All the designs here are hand-forged by Martin on the premises, heralded on the outside corner by a huge metal sculpture of a dragon-like creature.

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Geri Cook's Bargains column runs every Friday in Valley Life! Questions about shopping may be sent to her, in care of Valley Life!, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, CA 91311. Letters will not be answered individually, but topics of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Geri Cook can be heard from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturdays on KIEV 870-AM.

Where to Shop

What: Martin Iron Designs.

Location: 10726 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Closed Sunday.

Cards: Cash or check only.

Call: (818) 760-3636.

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