2012-12-14 LDSF Shawn blogcat_reliance_foundry blogcat_steel_foundry blogcat_steel_casting blogcat_iron_casting
Architectural Iron’s Role in Historic Preservation
Metal castings play a critical role in restoration and reproduction.
Iron lamp standards, originally produced by Reliance Foundry in the 1940’s, can still be seen throughout Vancouver.
There has been tremendous interest in the preservation of historic architecture over the past 2-3 decades, coupled with a resurgence of interest in early iron and metal work...it's preservation, it's restoration, and it's reproduction as an art form worth sharing with future generations. This appreciation generated early ironwork restorations, and today it stimulates new works that incorporate the quality in design and workmanship typical of the craftsmanship of the past. Foundries with production experience in custom iron castings can reproduce architectural iron castings from drawings or salvaged original pieces. Today, a wide range of architectural metalwork is available from small gray iron details to large architectural pieces of steel, ductile iron or aluminum. Bollards, tree grates, lamp standards, and even park benches are all examples of architectural ironwork and metalwork that is widely seen throughout the architecture of most towns and cities today.
There is a common misconception that the term "cast" iron refers to all early iron work; or that early iron work was always "wrought" ...or a combination of both. The distinction between cast and wrought iron is not a matter of old or new, but a difference in metal and chemical composition, and technique in working the metal into a finished piece.
Originally, “wrought iron” was an iron with a specific carbon content composition, coupled with specific relative elasticity. When heated, it could be skillfully hammered & stretched, artistically twisted and bent into the desired shapes by individual craftsman. Today, what is commonly called wrought iron is mild steel bars which are heated, then "hammered" and bent into shapes - frequently by machines - to mass produce scrolls, twisted bars and the like, for assembly into finished items. Today's mass produced wrought iron has limited application - especially in fine restorative and reproduction work. As it is commonly manufactured from stock half-inch bars and lightweight steel channel, the dimensional and aesthetic characteristics of many specific "period" architectural styles cannot be achieved. Further, with so much "bad iron" in the mass production marketplace today, a question of durability arises in the use of mass-produced wrought iron components. The artistry and quality of custom-made wrought iron is still available today from a variety of custom ironwork specialists.
Reliance Foundry produces thousands of iron bollards each year, specializing in historic replicas
Cast iron (aka "grey" or "gray" iron) is, and has always been, a particular composition of iron that is heated to a liquid state and is poured into precision molds carefully prepared for accurate reproduction. Since these molds can take virtually any shape, restricted only by the talent of the patternmaker, the range of cast iron products and castings is practically unlimited. Casting suppliers saw great success throughout the United States in the historical nineteenth century, because of cast iron’s suitability to the lower-cost mass production process - in a time when wrought iron was still an individual hand craft. With the introduction of mass produced wrought iron, the proliferation of cast iron artisan foundries declined. Casting of iron for architectural work has returned to being more of a custom craft, and often uses ductile iron as a material substitution.
Reliance Foundry has produced custom decorative and architectural castings, including historic casting reproductions and modern aluminum die castings for exterior architectural features. Reliance boasts over 85 yeas of experience and its experts are always able to walk you through the casting process.
For additional information contact:
Phone: (604) 592-4323
Fax: (604) 590-8875
Reliance Foundry Co. Ltd. delivers the highest-quality stock and custom-designed products for architectural site furnishings, traffic management and industrial applications. Since 1925, Reliance Foundry has built upon a long tradition of metal casting expertise to become an award-winning supplier for high-profile and everyday needs across North America.