“Artistic ironwork” is a term that is widely overused today, as are the terms “ironwork” and “wrought iron” including any metal work.
And yet, these terms still arouse in the collective imagination a certain quality of work, of ancestral know-how, and ultimately a part of a dream, lost in the era of excessive standardization and exaggerated profitability.
Either by lack of knowledge or by the zeal of industrialists and salespeople who use the aura of this beautiful profession, it seems difficult for uninformed people to define the characteristics of this work with regard to the many contemporary works with the name “wrought iron”.
The ironworker draws, designs and forges all his decorations.
Starting from a raw rolled iron (bar), using only his technical knowledge, his imagination and his creativity.
The Ironwork of Art and the Forge of Rohane
Since antiquity, man has been working with iron. Fire being the blacksmith’s first indispensable tool, it made this astonishing mineral malleable and contributed to the development of civilizations.
If the term “ironwork” appeared much later, it was in the 17th and 18th centuries that ironwork reached its peak.
New techniques (which we still use today), new tools have enabled the creation of monumental gates, stair railings, gates, furniture… (Château de Versailles, Place Stanislas, etc…).
After a slight decline in the 19th century with the appearance of cast iron, which was less expensive, wrought iron reappeared at the end of the 19th century and experienced a real boom again until 1950 when well-marked styles imposed themselves (Art Nouveau, art deco, 1940, etc.) thanks to many ironworkers such as Edgar Brant, Paul Kiss, Gilbert Poillerat…
Wrought ironwork therefore consists (mainly) of working hot metal, using a forge, an anvil and a hammer!
If other technical aspects such as embossing (or raising) can lead the ironworker to work cold metal sheets (copper, brass, iron), in particular for the production of ornamental foliage, the ironworker designs and forges all the decorations necessary for his work.
This is why, anxious to respect the values of our profession, the Forge de Rohane undertakes to respect the foundations and techniques defined by the French Federation of Ironworkers and Blacksmiths.
The art of geometry
The ironwork must subtly reflect the personality of its sponsor and that of the craftsman who created it, while placing it in context with the architecture that surrounds it.
As a result, the drawing, the sketch, or the outline inevitably contribute to the making of each creation and ensure its uniqueness.
Concurrently with the use of modern graphic methods, the art of geometry must be highlighted, preserved, and transmitted.
A worthy heir of ancestral traditions, wrought ironwork is now evolving its profession by using new technologies.
It must do so in total harmony and in perfect complementarity with the traditional forge work.
Fashion and style
Each production and each work are created within their context, place, and reference, which contributes to the identification and attribution of a style.
The ironwork does not evade this, and the craftsman must undertake to respect the style imposed on his work with the greatest possible precision.
Production and Assembling
The execution and assembly techniques specific to the traditional practice of the profession, remain long and tedious to apply. However, they undeniably guarantee the authenticity and nobility of the work thus produced.
The assembly methods using tenons, mortises, recesses, riveting, screwing, shoulders, hot swelling holes, half-iron notches, and forge welding, have been dictated by centuries of tradition. The skilled ironworker has the duty to perpetuate them and deliver them. Other methods are, however, conceivable.
The craftsman can implement them subject to having previously notified his client and requested his approval. In addition, the skilled ironworker must clearly explain the physical, aesthetic, and descriptive results induced by the use of these modern or innovative techniques in the creation of the work.
From the necessity of the forge...
It is essential to distinguish the cold “working iron”, even though it conforms to proper rules, from the imperatively hot-worked “forged” iron.
Iron and fire must be combined by hand and spirit so that it truly is in line with skilled ironwork. The forge, therefore, remains the vital tool without which the craft cannot subsist and remain noble.
The blacksmith cannot avoid any technical innovations that could be used in complementarity and to serve his art.