Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Frederick Wrought Iron & Hand-Forged Iron

Frederick is home to some wonderful examples of iron fences, banisters, window boxes, gates, and railings. Some of them are quite old and hand-forged. Most of what we see around town is cast iron design elements welded into steel frames. To help me understand how these railings and fences are created, I talked with Pete Markey who is an extremely creative metal worker from Creative Metal Design who has crafted many metal works of art as well as function. Pete explained how iron works are built and some of that information is found below.  If you want to know more, contact Pete at markey.pete@gmail.com.  Or visit his website.

Before I show you the iron works of Frederick, let me show you one of Pete's installations. This is so whimsical and creative! This tree design stair railing was created for a private home near Ft. Belvoir for a couple who were landscapers and wanted something different for their interior. Click on any of the photos for a larger view.

Pete Markey Hand Wrought Iron Railing - Tree Design

A lot of complex designs you see such as the few leaves and grapes design shown below are cast iron. To create these, they pour the metal in a mold. This method allows for artful and complex pieces that are  less expensive than hand hammering. Sometimes heavier, larger elements such heavier posts, are poured in two pieces and some are bolted together.  Hand rails and frameworks are mostly made of steel. The steel is purchased in 20' lengths from a mill and cut into lengths and bent or cut to length for each project as needed, shaped, and welded together.  Cast iron designs can be used instead of straight pickets to add a decorative touch.  Pete orders some cast iron and steel design elements from catalogs and then welds them into a steel framework. Cast iron is more resistant to rust than steel because of its higher carbon content.  All iron and steel elements have to be treated to keep from rusting., e.g., painted or powder coated.

Here are more examples of iron work around town:

If you click on the photo above you can see that this older fence shows signs of wear and buckling where the half round on top separated from the piece below it. Over time, water freezes in there and causes the uneven appearance.

Some ironwork such as the window box above can be created in one piece using a sheet of steel and a plasma torch that is directed by a computer based template.

Another of Pete Markey's works. The gates at Fairview cemetery in Keedysville, MD

Feel free to contact Pete for more information. You can see samples of Pete Markey's work at http://www.creativemetalmd.com/  Email: markey.pete@gmail.com