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Foundry patterns are handcrafted wood art; two collections in Los Angeles, San Francisco.

The shapes look familiar; giant gears, manhole covers, pipe valves, anchors, engine blocks, gates and grates, even torpedo casings. The medium is the surprise; all are made of gleaming wood. They are original foundry patterns--handcrafted, full-size models for iron or steel objects produced by the sand-casting process.

Since the mid-1800s, foundry patterns have been precisely crafted of wood--first of vertical-grain California redwood and later of kiln-dried hardwoods and clear pine. But since World War II, patterns have been made increasingly of plastic and fiberglass, making the wooden patterns artifacts of a dying craft.

You may find some pieces in antique stores, but two of the country's largest collections, gathered from old foundries, are located near the ports of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Opened in July 1983 near the San Pedro docks, Lost and Foundry displays and sells patterns used in California foundries mainly during the first half of this century. By the Hunters Point shipyards, Patters Ltd. has been gathering old patterns--including an abundance of ship parts--for 15 years. Both stores sell wholesale and retail.

Foundry patterns make unusual gifts for people who appreciate fine woodworking.

Many pieces can also be used in a house as built-ins or as architectural trim. Circular mahogany porthole and manhole frames are popular for framing mirrors and leaded-glass windows. Bearing housings and valves ($450 to $900) can serve as bars or desks. Large, egg-crate-patterned flood-control gates ($700 to $1,000) make wall-size partitions.

Lost and Foundry is at 319 W. Sixth Street in San Pedro; (213) 548-7945. Hours are 10 to 6 Tuesday through Saturdays, 11 to 5 Sundays. Patterns Ltd., in Building 368 of the Hunters Point shipyard, south of San Francisco, is open by appointment; call (415) 822-9675.
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Feb 1, 1984
Words:287
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