Rarely understood, most people consider wrought iron to be any ornamental steel or iron work usually having some form of scroll design.
Wrought Iron in the context used here describes “puddled wrought iron” that starts as a large mass, or Bloom, of iron that was refined from iron ore, and then worked (wrought) like kneaded bread to bring out impurities that consist mostly of silica. Iron was the metal of choice through the ages before the Bessemer process was developed around the turn of the 20th century to mass produce steel. All of the wrought iron we work with is salvaged, mostly by us, and most likely over 100 years old. With the bulk being salvaged from old rail and mill sites. This iron won’t be confused with wire iron and cast iron decorative pieces that were the bane of the blacksmith since the 1800’s. wire iron is made from rod stock and requires no forge or hammer work to assemble as all of the metal is small diameter and can be worked cold. cast iron’s skill was left to the pattern maker and molten iron.
Besides the differences while forging compared to steel, the coarse, lightly refined iron retains a wood grain look that no other metal can duplicate. Also, with it’s natural character, wrought iron is corrosion resistant due to the iron being almost 100% carbon free. Wrought iron can and will rust if left untreated but mostly will develop a light surface rust and stop there.
We enjoy working with Wrought Iron and salvaging what’s been abandoned to use in our work. When we find pieces that have noticeable hammer work from forging of the pieces first purpose we try to expose that and use it as a detail. Seeing those facets from old spikes and forge welded implements recycled and worked into new functions brings us a great amount of satisfaction.
For more information on wrought iron you can go to Wikipedia. And if you have a few minutes check out the Video page for some blacksmith’s working in a different age.