At Eastern Forge all of our products are bespoke and handmade to order, when approaching a new project a few clear requirements must be set by the client to outline a rough brief. Some of these aspects could include but not limited to;
- Functional and aesthetic intent
- Dimensional boundaries
- Surface finishes
After a brief has been set the design development stage begins using 2d sketches and when applicable 3d samples or joining details. Once a final design and budget have been agreed work can begin. Clients are encouraged to drop by the forge as the work progresses.
We’ve put together this guide for potential buyers as a means of providing a little bit of technical info, and to show some of the possibilities we are capable of at the forge.
The majority of work produced in the forge uses mild steel, a low carbon steel that lends itself well to hot forging, welding and structural applications. It is commonly know as ‘wrought iron’, as it is wrought meaning ‘worked’. The application of wrought iron in traditional and contemporary designs allows the blacksmith a good scope of options, budgets and variations in bespoke commissions. The supplier we use proudly support and supply Australian made steel products.
Although not as common, other materials can be forged and fabricated such as bronze, brass, copper and stainless steel. These all have there own intrinsic properties to architectural and sculptural applications, for example stainless steel can be highly polished to a mirror finish and has excellent corrosion resistance. Copper and bronze also polishes well and can be used in highly decorative interiors or promote distinct surface patinas.
The processes used by the blacksmith has changed very little over the years. Tapering, spreading, forming, hot punching, fire welding, upsetting and twisting are used commonly in the forge. The introduction of modern metalworking technology such as the welder, has allowed new and exciting ways to create contemporary design solutions to products. When these two aspects are used in harmony there are countless design solutions for any context.
As blacksmiths and designers, the physical joining of components plays a crucial part in the design process. Rather than hiding these details in production they become a focal point of decoration in the design. Keeping designs simple can often be offset with expressive joining methods such as friction fits, collars, mortise and tenons, rivets, wraps or decorative fasteners.
Design in blacksmithing in our opinion is the single most important skill a blacksmith can have. The practising of critical thinking at every opportunity allows the blacksmith to make appropriate and considered visual judgements. Discerning how and why details are used in the making of products are essential to best achieve a harmony between an existing space and a piece of metalwork. Using a mixture of 2d mark making and 3d sampling, multiple options can be offered to clients to determine the suitability of design.
The engagement into design from blacksmiths all over the world led to the emergence of the contemporary blacksmithing movement which continues to thrive today.
The surface finishing options on metalwork vary hugely, below are a few materials and processes.
Mild steel or wrought iron
- Galvanizing is the process of dipping steel into a hot bath of molten zinc. This offers excellent exterior protection against corrosion in environments near the ocean. It is a cost effective option that prevents rusting and paint can be applied after.
- Abrasive blasting is used to clean the steels surface where scale builds up from forging, best used prior to painting.
- Painting options are available for interior and exterior jobs. A metal primer or micaceous iron oxide (MIO) paint provides good protection from corrosion if maintained correctly. A huge array of coloured top coats using the Dulux range are available in matt, low sheen, semi-gloss or gloss.
- Thermal spraying is an alternative to galvanizing that maintains the detail in forged metal. It still uses molten zinc to prevent corrosion but is applied using a spraying technology.
- Wax and lacquers can be used in dry interior conditions. They retain that natural steel finish and is only applied using thin layers, which preserves the forged detailing.
- Rusted finishes begin by using abrasive blasting to clean the surface to allow an even patina to develop. Rust finishes can be maintained using a penetrol oil.
- Stainless steel is an alloy of iron containing chromium, this produces a layer of oxide on the surface preventing it from further corrosion. Brushed, satin and mirror finishes can be applied to highlight forged details or used as a decorative surface appearance.
- Blackening stainless can be achieved by soaking the steel in the gas forge and sealing in a clear coat of lacquer, the contrast when used with a mirror finish creates a striking finish.
- Brass can be antiqued, polished or left raw to naturally patina with use over time. Brass is an alloy made from copper and zinc and can be used decoratively in furniture and architectural applications.
- Copper surface finishes include antiqued, brushed, distressed or polished. Depending on the application a surface finish can be produced to suit to a clients preference.