Under Lock and Key

Fantastic in the Everyday Inspiring Objects Writing

For as long as I can remember, old doors–with their ornate latches, handles, and locks– have grabbed my attention. Their elegant handwork speaks volumes about a culture different from our own, and thus serves to inspire.

Often a world will come to life through the details, and the right detail can reveal much regarding a culture and society. There’s evidence to be found even something as small as locks and keys, which is something to consider when constructing a fantastic world.

Do you have a purely functional society, where everything has a utilitarian design (much like the locks and keys for our doors today), or do you have a society enamored with beauty and elegant design? How do the views shape the larger world? In a beauty-oriented society, do things fail to function? Or are they considered truly beautiful if they function in an elegant way? Have fun brainstorming and being inspired by the little details of our world…and enjoy these lovely relics from the past.

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Image credit: xaler



  • Mary
    June 29, 2011 - 9:26 am · Reply

    Wow… you had my mom and me both drooling, Sarah. We’re getting ready to remodel our house; I wonder if Dad would let us have a door like that…

    • Sarah Sawyer
      June 30, 2011 - 7:50 pm · Reply

      Oh, that would be fantastic. Surely someone makes locks and keys like this still (though they may be costly). My husband and I want to build a home one day, and in my daydreams, it has doors like these. 🙂

  • Evangeline Denmark
    June 29, 2011 - 11:52 am · Reply

    I love old locks and KEYS and clocks. And doors! Probably not a coincidence that an ancient door figures very heavily in my novel, Bran’s Door. I hope to write sequels, Rilla’s Chain and Callum’s Key. I think part of the beauty of these items is their symbolic meaning.
    Great post and thanks for the lovely pictures!

    • Sarah Sawyer
      June 30, 2011 - 7:54 pm · Reply

      The craftsmanship and labor that went into the doors/keys/locks of old amazes me, and you made a great point about their symbolic nature. Oh, and I love old clocks too!

      Is Bran’s Door your brownie tale? You really can’t go wrong with an ancient door in the story. 🙂

  • Mirriam
    June 29, 2011 - 9:55 pm · Reply

    No way! I LOVE iron keys; I’ve always had an affinity for them. In fact, I collect pretty much anything key-shaped; my favaorite being a huge (7 inch long) black iron skeleton key. I also have a much smaller ‘key to my heart,’ and my favorite necklace that I hardly ever take off is a small silver lock and key… I love keys. And these pictures are beautiful!
    ~ Mirriam

    • Sarah Sawyer
      June 30, 2011 - 7:58 pm · Reply

      Oh my, I would love to see your giant key! It seems like it would be so much more satisfying to use a key like that than the ugly little ones we have now. Yes, they serve an important purpose, but they have absolutely no charm. I think you need to share some pictures of your collection (or point me in the right direction, if you already have posted them somewhere).

  • Jennifer Hawkins Hock
    February 17, 2012 - 9:58 pm · Reply

    Your lovely, detailed photos of antique doors and keys further inspire my admiration for artisans of everyday objects. Had one of these objects ceased to function, it would not be thrown away, but fixed or preserved – because of the caring workmanship invested in its creation.
    Most of all, I like the ornate key in the lower picture – that seems to have a face!

    • Sarah Sawyer
      February 22, 2012 - 11:47 am · Reply

      I admire the artisans of old also, and I’m excited that there seems to be a trend of returning to hand-crafted items. I appreciate items that are both beautiful and functional, and it seems that many others share those feelings. 🙂

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