A Closer Look at Ornamental Iron
Ornamental iron, also called wrought iron, brings a classic beauty to one’s landscape design. It adds authenticity and strength of form. Painstaking designs, inspired decorative flourishes, finely detailed artistry are all apt phrases that can be used to describe the various ornamental iron pieces that can be integrated into your landscape.
Even though today we may use mild steel instead of true wrought iron and we may use electric welding rather than a fire and anvil in our landscape products, still the thrill and wonder of this ancient art form remain. Heat transforms a metal rod into spirals and rosettes. The bar bends and weaves, sweeps and swirls.
For today’s landscapes, various motifs, accents and uses of ornamental iron include structures and other architectural features, such as outdoor gazebos, doors, handrails, screens, door panels, window grilles, outdoor water fountains, banisters, balconies, running friezes, copings, finials, pilasters, and column capitals.
Within functional ornamentation, you will find wrought iron garden gates and wrought iron fences, gate ornaments, landscape lighting fixtures, wrought iron driveway gates, door knockers, door handles, hinges, curtain rods, wrought iron flower boxes and planters, andirons and fireplace tools, gratings, partitions, benches and outdoor tables.
Accents and accessory pieces include sculptures, mirror frames, antique wrought iron rosettes, clothes hooks, signs and gargoyles.
Wrought iron emerged as a decorative art sometime in The Middle Ages. Certain iron styles and forms continue to give a nod to those early roots in European history. While iron pieces work in almost any landscape, because of its historic roots, wrought iron goes especially well in gardens that have a theme. Following are some examples.
Classic landscape design and Spain. Consider the balcony railings and distinctive gothic door-knockers of Catalan; the ornate window screens and cathedral grilles of the Castilian area. You could get lost in the Andalusia region alone. Its many cultures, including the Moors and Christians, lived side by side there, producing wonderful wrought iron art.
English garden design and England. England has contributed a profusion of charm to the landscaping vocabulary and is nearly as famous for its gardens as for the kingdom it built. Look for landscaping items such as scrolled benches, antique tree surrounds and wrought iron garden arches.
Formal landscape design and France. In Paris, the wrought iron art nouveau entrances to the Metro are iconic and playful. For your landscape, you can also find plenty of examples of more functional pieces, such as guardrails and balustrades.
Mediterranean landscape design and Italy, especially Tuscany. Tuscan wrought ironwork clearly draws from Mediterranean antecedents. In the inimitable Italian way, it does so while maintaining an air of elegance. Look also for elaborate iron lanterns as seen in Florence and torch holders in the shape of fierce gargoyles as found in Milan.
Ornamental iron confounds us with its balance of strength and delicacy. It delights us with its many and varied uses. Its elegant details, whether in mesmerizing geometric shapes, whimsical medieval interpretations or swirling and sensuous movement, convey strength and authenticity, a timeless beauty and a sense of history.
For more the 20 years Exterior Worlds has specialized in servicing many of Houston’s fine neighborhoods.