Tag Archive for: custom metal work

warmth + winter

23 Feb
February 23, 2016


February is here, which means winter has set in. We hope that you have already taken steps to prepare your home for winter. Cleaning your furnace filter, refrigerator coils and maintaining drains all are essential in winter home keeping safety.  If you live in a part of the country that hasn’t already received some amount of snowfall, chances are within the next three months you still could. Which means, you’ll be spending time preparing a fire and enjoying the physical warmth and inviting atmosphere it provides.


We are quick to recognize the importance of tending the functionality of the fire; ensuring there’s enough wood supply and keeping the flue clean, but what about the esthetics of the fireplace?

The screen and tool holders don’t have to be an eyesore; rather they are another expression of style. Architects and interior designers commonly utilize the fireplace for design inspiration as a focal point in the room.



Great Lakes Metal Works can help with just about everything besides making the fire (but word around here is, if you offer Richard a homemade German Chocolate cake, he’ll probably do that too!). We create beautiful, one-of-a-kind fireplace surrounds, fireplace tool holders and can also recommend a chimney sweep or bulk firewood source if you are in need. 

An imaginative screen reflective of this client's taste in design meets the demand for function as well.

An imaginative screen reflective of this client’s taste in design meets the demand for function as well.

A decorative element above the fireplace is a great way to set the style for the room

A decorative element above the fireplace is a great way to set the style for the room.

Creating New Outdoor Features

29 Apr
April 29, 2014


We at Great Lakes Metal Works & Art Studio firmly believe that your yard is a seasonal living room. And just like any other room of your house, you want to make it your own. To ensure you get the most out of your outdoor space, its a great idea to incorporate features that help your enjoy your space to the fullest. Even with the infinite resource of online shopping, sometimes you can’t find quite what you’re looking for. Or maybe you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for, but you know what you’ve seen in stores or online just isn’t it.


Whether your garden’s issue is security, privacy, noise, comfort, safety or aesthetics, we offer practical, beautiful solutions with custom fences, garden gates, outdoor furniture, stair railings, and sculpture. Even  if you’re unsure of exactly what you want, we at Great Lakes Metal Works want to help you create your unique feature. We will use our expertise and experience to guide you through the entire process.

How It Works. For the first consultation we encourage you tobring in pictures of what you know you do or don’t like. This can include anything from color, shape, material, texture or elements of other designs.

Our designers will work with you to create a structurally sound design that incorporates the design elements you love and leaves out the ones you don’t.

Once the design is complete, our team will value engineer the proposal for the fabrication process. This may include using a cost-friendly material then adding a finish to give it a high-end look without the high-end price tag.

We offer annual maintenance packages to ensure that your custom design looks great year after year.

Garden Gates. Garden gates can offer security, privacy, and beauty for your outdoor space.


Fences. We design fences of all shapes and sizes, from tall, simple, traditional fences to small, ornate garden bed fences.


Arbors. For spaces with few or no trees, arbors are a wonderful way to add vertical visual interest.


Sculpture. Like hanging a stunning picture on a wall, a garden sculpture grounds the space and provides a central focus point.


Outdoor Furniture. Outdoor furniture makes your space inviting and comfortable.


Have we inspired you to update your garden? Contact us at info@greatlakesartstudio.com or 847-213-0800 to get started!


The Art of Signage: Creating Distinctive Metal Signs

26 Jan
January 26, 2014

While jumbo-sized acrylic signs that scream for attention may be suitable for gas stations and fast food chains, upscale businesses such as resorts or country clubs require more refined, elegant metal signs that will enhance their image and make a great first impression. Signage is a distinctive way to reflect the aesthetic essence of a brand. 

At Great Lakes Metal Works & Art Studio, we’ve built dozens of handcrafted, custom metal signs that are truly a work of art.

Our process of making unique, custom metal signs includes several key steps:

  1. Discovery — We find out where and how the sign will be used and what it is intended to convey
  2. Design — We sketch out designs and discuss them with the client.
  3. Execution — Once the designs are agreed upon, we handcraft the metal using laser cutters, casting, forging or other techniques.
  4. Maintenance — We offer a continuing maintenance package and cleaning service to keep the signs looking new.

With each project, we begin by thinking about where the sign is going to be placed and what it’s going to be used for. Good signage should fit seamlessly into its environment and match the look and feel of its surroundings.

For example, we recently created bronze directional signs at The Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui in the shape of the ginger plant, which is native to Hawaii. The tall metal stalks and carved metal hibiscus flowers surrounding the sign make it feel as if it’s a part of the tropical landscape.

We also work with our clients on each project to understand the look they are trying to achieve. By asking the right questions, we can deliver a sign that artistically expresses their identity.

In a recent project with the Wailea Community Association in Hawaii, we were told that the client wanted their sign, which would include their town’s logo and letters spelling “Wailea,” to portray the sun and the sea – both things that are highly valued in this seaside resort community.

After hearing their goals, we recommended making the letters in fluid, organic shapes to express the feeling of the ocean, and the sleek, modern circular logo in a brushed finish to represent the sun setting above the waves.

Bud Pikrone, General Manager at the Wailea Community Association, said he appreciated our ability to listen and communicate clearly.

“Their understanding of the concept and translating that into the materials used and the final product was seamless,” Pikrone said. “(It) made my job easier and less stressful.”

In addition to being able to deliver a product our clients are happy with, we also help our clients protect their investment by coating each metal sign with a UV-repellant wax that wards off the long-term damaging effects of the sun and salt water. Our maintenance plan includes three visits each year to the site to clean the signs, apply wax, buff and repair any damages that may have occurred to the patina.

Here are just a few of the many signs we’ve completed recently:

1. Signage for the town of Wailea, Maui

To create visual interest on these bronze signs, we used contrasts in dimension between the logo and the lettering. For the logo, we cut out the metal shape using a laser cutter, giving it a graphic feel. The letters, on the other hand, were sculpted out of clay and then cast in bronze for a sculptural, dimensional look.

2. Directional signs at Fairmont Kea Lani Resort, Maui

resort sign
These bronze signs were designed to look like a ginger plant, which is native to Hawaii. Each directional sign was coated with a special UV-repellant wax to protect the metal from the damaging effects of the sun and salt water.

3. Launa Lounge sign, Fairmont Kea Lani Resort, Maui

resort lounge sign
The open-air Luana Lounge bar offers live music and spectacular views of the Maui sunset. To create a sign that fit in with the atmosphere, we designed a light and airy sign that features raised metal lettering on glass and golden sunbursts etched into the surface.

Contact us at info@greatlakesartstudio.com to create custom outdoor metal signs for your resort or business.