Wrought Iron – the ancient art

‘Wrought Iron’ describes a legitimate art form. Ever since man first learnt to smelt iron and forge the end product into tools and weaponry, there was artistry going on. But the Iron Age heralded such a demand for iron weapons and tools that their mass production became necessary, leaving scant time for artistic concerns.

Artistic expression is intrinsic to most humans however and even amidst the era of mass production there were artisans who would wrought iron into unique weapons; their pieces becoming highly sought after.

Barry Gardner - knifemaker South Australia

Photo Credit: Barry Gardner, Knifemaker – https://www.gardnerknives.com/about.html

Many smiths were employed in forging common iron fence palings and cage bars for the confinement of criminals, too, and amongst them there were to be found frustrated artists wanting to display their talents. It was from this latter industry that decorative wrought iron screens were born.

Wrought Iron bougainvillea

Pretty as a picture!

Wrought Iron - religious art

Little used in Australia where we reside, decorative wrought iron work is in common use all around the Mediterranean region. While it is often put in place for security reasons, it is obvious that those who choose to incorporate it in their buildings and public spaces are also keen to have it display artistically, and for the greater part it does just that.

Wrought Iron - decorative window

It serves a utilitarian purpose while beautifying spaces, doors, entrances and portals. Wrought iron, forged by the hands of true craftsmen, is in itself capable of making a significant architectural statement.

Wrought Iron - Tavira riverfront

Tavira – riverfront

The artisan wrought iron maker will often incorporate curlicues and swirls in their design, repeating panels where they can for dramatic effect. Sometimes they will incorporate a third-dimension.

Wrought Iron - balconyWrought Iron - decorative balcony

Wrought Iron - decorative balcony

Decorative Wrought Iron - balcony Symmetry is crucial to its success.

Wrought Iron - wraparound balcony

The classical straight line, in geometric form, can be just as impressive too.

Wrought Iron - entrance

Or a combination of styles.

Wrought Iron Window

Wrought Iron - eleganceThe addition of crafted flora or fauna can sometimes appear a bit OTT. But it is always tastefully added and often adds to the ‘grandeur’ of the work. These inclusions are not often without symbolic significance to the properties they grace, either.

Wrought Iron - palatial entrance

Simple, yet exquisite design.

Wrought Iron - wired glass window

Exquisite, yet functional (the doors to a local Fire Station).

Wrought Iron - fire station Tavira

Tavira – Fire Station

As gates, these formidable and stately barriers remain inoffensive because of their aesthetic value, while firmly stating “Advance No Further!”

Wrought Iron - farmstead entrance

Some hint of grander times.

Wrought Iron - neglected

Some say it with quiet, even simple, elegance.

Wrought Iron - whiteWrought Iron - charming white

Sometimes the artistry hints of a welcoming owner.

Wrought Iron - farm entrance

Or perhaps a haughty (but elegant) arrogance.

Wrought Iron - estate entrance

Or with flair that casts a spell.

Wrought Iron - crosswire

We can only hope the skill continues to be passed down to subsequent generations.

2 thoughts on “Wrought Iron – the ancient art

  1. Lovely, Cedric. It’s hard to ignore the spikes along the top of some of them no matter how lovely the designs of the rest of it. It’s still saying ‘keep out”. We are presently considering incorporating some wrought iron at our entrance so it’s very relevant to us at the moment.


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