Features of construction
Some examples of how we work are detailed below.
Acanthus leaves are a motif from the classical world, they have been used to decorate ironwork from the 17 th century. They are made by cutting and beating out iron or steel sheet, using skills derived from armoury.
The same techniques, known as repousse, can (and were traditionally) also used on copper, to create detailed figures and masks. The most famous are those by Tijou as part of his Hampton Court Palace screens. Repousse is often the most striking feature of ironwork that includes it, and can lend visual weight to a composition with minimal physical weight, as it significantly increases the silhouette.
These repousse dragon motifs are the main decortive element of a set of gates we made for a private client in Surrey.
Leading is the traditional way of securing ironwork. Molten lead is poured into the gap between the iron and the stonework or masonry, and then caulked up (compressed and dressed) using special tools.
Scrolls are decorative but traditionally they were also to provide added strength through triangulation.
Collaring is one of several traditional techniques of securing different elements together.
Square or round holes can be hot punched in horizontal bars to allow vertical bars to pass through.
The punching process swells the bar to a greater or lesser degree (depending on the sizes involved) adding to the look of the work. Unlike a drilled hole, punching removes very little material, thus strength is maintained.
Fire welding is the highly skilled traditional method of joining two or more pieces of iron into one. For centuries this was the only way to affect a molecular join in solid metal (before modern gas and electric welding).
First scarf joints are formed on the ends of the pieces to be joined.
The pieces to be joined must be heated to the correct temperature at the same time, then quickly positioned on the anvil and forged together. The window of opportunity in time and heat is small and takes great skill to judge. If one of the pieces is too cool they will not stick and hammering them will only thin out the metal. Get them too hot and the metal will burn, ruining the work.
When done well, the join is indistinguishable from the parent bar.
Contact Dan Liggins, Black Dragon Forge