This section is from the "Architectural Iron And Steel, And Its Application In The Construction Of Buildings" book, by WM. H. Birkmire.. Also see Amazon: Architectural Iron And Steel, And Its Application In The Construction Of Buildings.
The art of ornamental design is appreciated both by the public and by the manufacturer, by the consumer as well as the producer of all the innumerable appliances of modern life.
Every style contends for the mastery, and in our manufactories every variety is encouraged; nor can we identify any one as national. The ornamental sculptor, the wood carver, the house decorator, the glass painter, and the designer for iron and brass, - all these are called upon to assist in the production of articles from every variety of design.
The architectural-iron worker is called upon not only to prepare and erect the iron employed in the building, but to supply a considerable portion of the decoration, generally from designs furnished by the architect to be worked in cast and wrought iron.
We frequently observe how beautifully these designs have been reproduced.
Hammered Wrought Iron as a means of decoration, is an established feature of architectural work. Although expensive for good work, the results attained are very satisfactory for workmanship and beauty.
Flowers, vines and leaves, fantastic iron work for hinges and door latches, are worked in particular excellence; in fact, all manner of design known to decoration can be reached by the artisan in this style of work.
Ornamental Wrought-Iron Leaves.
For a correct and intelligent manner of producing the best results in hammered leaves, etc., the designs should be drawn full size and correctly shaded to show their proper forms and inclinations, with a sketch showing the complete outlines of the figure. If this is not sufficiently clear to the artisan, a model should be made, in clay or wax, which gives a true and perfectly clear representation of the design in its finished state.
To facilitate the production of many forms for similar designs, the model is reproduced in cast iron and the casting used as a pattern, upon which the leaves are more readily hammered into shape.
Window, door and panel grilles give the best opportunity for design in hammered wrought iron. Of the two designs herein shown, the first can be made of square or round bars, curved to the proper shape and placed inside the frame; then heads, face and leaves hammered separately and welded or riveted to the curved bars.
In the second design, the inside open panel is formed of leaves, vines, etc., and the outside border may be closed or open. To give an effective and well-relieved appearance, the leaves, grapes and vines can be hammered work, and the body made of a plain casting, to which the relieved work is secured.
We seldom think of comparing ornamental cast iron with hammered wrought iron to its disadvantage; both are excellent; whereas modern castings do invite comparison, as by an infinitely careful ingenuity of pattern-making the very best results are obtained.
Ornamented cast iron is largely used in railings, balconies and verandas, with graceful posts and panels of delicate lattice; or inside the house - the grates, stairs and stair railings.
Even the ordinary area railing of straight bars has cast knobs, rosettes, etc., very good in their way, and everything so compact that one never sees parts fractured. The grates found in the best houses are for the most part of excellent design, and remarkable examples of careful castings; some are quite plain, with just a moulding or two, and others are fluted and beaded all over with tiny ornaments on flat surfaces. Repetition is the very nature of cast work, and hence the same form, as we have often seen, is many times impressed from the same pattern. Repetition of a few simple elements in different combinations makes great actual variety possible, as in fire-backs of grates, etc.
Wrought-iron Grille with Cast-iron Border.
The very old method of modelling the ornament in wax is also applied to the finer class of castings at the present time. Where frequent repetition of the ornament is necessary, a casting is made from the model, in lead, brass or bronze, and used as a pattern.
Gas-light Post of Cast Iron.
If the model is not finished in wax, recourse can be had to carving the pattern in wood.
In many cases of finishing ornamental iron painting is generally adopted.
For the best class of work various other means are used, as the "Barff" process, so called from the name of its discoverer. Its purpose is to render the surface of metallic articles treated resistant to acids and impervious to humid oxidation. Iron that has been properly barffed will not rust. The process belongs in no sense to the chemical laboratory, and requires no particular scientific knowledge or technical skill for its success. The iron to be treated is made perfectly clean, free from oil and dust, and placed in a muffle - an air-tight oven into which is led a steam-pipe from a boiler that carries steam at a pressure of from 5o to 100 pounds to the inch. The effect of this steam on the iron exposed to its action is to convert its surface into magnetic oxide of iron.
Galvanizing, the modern version of tinning applied to iron, is a valuable process. Galvanizing and good oil gilding right over the surface would probably be a perfect protection from rust, or the galvanized portion might be lacquered and varnished in one or many lustrous tints, or in black, gold and silver patterns.
Electrtc-light Post of Cast Iron.
Wrought-iron Balcony Railing.
For some work, oiling or varnishing, or an application of thin "Berlin black," may be sufficient.
Wrought-iron Street Railing.
Electro-plating in copper, silver, nickel, bronze, and very often in gold, is a favorite method and universally adopted.