WROUGHT IRON LATTICES

Post 226 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 

WROUGHT IRON LATTICES

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Wrought Iron lattices have been used primarily over windows, doors and other gaps. Latticed structures of wrought iron are used for balconies, as space dividers, church screens, vine climbers, stair railings, estate gates and barricades, frames for furniture items, lintels, beams, brackets, columns and for garden structures like orangeries and pavilions.

Iron forming reflects man’s innovative and craft skills. It has been a very difficult material to work with, as it presents different behaviour in its various forms. Yet, it has been cast, resealed, joined, spliced, chased and engraved. It has been reformatted with hot and cold treatments. Wrought iron has been used for household utilities, tools, vessels, arms, building elements, architectonic entities, decorative items and statuettes. It has replaced wood for its stability, strength and malleability.

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Before the Middle Ages, wrought iron was used primarily for weapons, tools and utilities that only could be made with a metal. Unlike Cast iron, Wrought iron has a lower carbon content. It is stronger, non-brittle, and could be forged to any shape, and join by beating. Literally, Wrought iron means an iron that can be worked, both in hot and cold forms.

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One of the most creative forms of wrought iron manifests in trellis, grills, and other hollowed or pierced-out planner forms. Earlier trellis or grills were formed of wood, bamboos, vines, and cast of copper or bronze, or even of ceramics. These materials were not amenable to plastic shaping. Wrought iron has been used as a plastic material to form variety of trellis, in simple or multi-curved planner forms and also mould sub-elements differently.

The first lattices were functional elements like the protective cover within gaps, and in doors and windows. Simple linear cast or forged elements were inserted in side structures of masonry or wood. These, however, soon became interlacing or entwined entities of bars, hot-forged or riveted forming a grill. Same techniques were used for creating grills for hearths and sieves.

Wrought Iron lattices began to be used 13 and 14th C windows of mansions and cathedrals requiring high security. Same structures were used as barricades and partitions. The lattices were designed with variegated shaping of bars’ profiles, and in terms of angle and spacing. Hot-forging and cold working methods were used to alter the sections and shapes of the linear elements. Round and square rods and bars were twisted, coiled and beaten into complex foliated forms. Iron pieces were chiselled, chased, riveted, shape forged. Iron plates were also used for plate like tracery elements. Ends, finials and cresting were cast from other materials like brass or bronze and mounted over steel roods. Riveting and hot forging was chief techniques of joint making. Joints, However, were so skilfully concealed that the grill seemed like one cast or formed piece.

Wrought ironwork began to serve other decorative purposes. Famous cathedrals and other public buildings ( Canterbury and Winchester Cathedrals of England and Notre Dame de Paris) have extremely crafty pieces wrought iron works.

Wrought Iron lattice work, began as a rough surface entity, but by end of middle ages, the surfaces were well formed, ground and joints were concealed. Surfaces were often chased, engraved, inlayed with materials. Finials, caps and other elements of brass, copper, bronze and gold were added. Ornaments were forged out as separate parts, and assembled with riveting, or welding. Decorative elements, such as of flowers, leaves, vines, birds, names, and coats of arms, were bunched or heaped to provide a composition language.

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GRILLS

Post 200 –by Gautam Shah 

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Grills are primarily protection devices in openings, but have been used as an ornamental element. Grills are placed in apertures, windows, doors, other gaps and also over walls. Grills are used barricades such as the as parapets on terraces, in balconies, galleries or at the edge of any elevated level. Grills are also used as transparent divider on roads and as estate boundaries. First grills were just heaps or stacks of twigs or thorny branches against any trespass-able opening. Fixed grills were created by or inserting wood sticks into the sides of the openings.

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Grills of stones or trellis are created in buildings. These Jalis provided protection and privacy. Metal grills of Bronze and Cast steel provided unbreakable and thin body material. The metals were shaped by casting, forging, bending and joining.

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Grills of metal began to reflect the artistic fantasy, almost as close to a sculpture, mural or painting. It was possible to create many a different pattern. Grills had simple linear patterns of geometry as well as floral compositions. The lines of the composition were moulded into a planner (2D) or cubical (3D) profiles, by infinite sectional variations. The profile variations made the grill visible in different forms from different view angles. Grills themselves were initially planner elements, but now began to be moulded to form multi-curved surfaces and multi lateral 3D configurations like sculptures. A well-designed grill can be ornamentation yet be a functional entity.

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A predominantly vertical configuration in a grill pattern expresses a masculinity, heavy or solidity, and looks over bearing. It obstructs the vision through it. Vertical configurations in grills are psychologically associated with an enforced confinement or jail.

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A predominantly horizontal grill pattern allows restricted, but wide horizontal level of vision, and so seems less masculine, solid or imposing. Horizontal patterns are too dependent on their surrounding elements to be effective, and as a result need lots of design co-ordinations.

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A curvilinear or floral pattern looks effeminate. Such grills arrest the vision into themselves, and so survive on their own. However, such patterns tend to be symbolic representations, and may seem out of place in any other context.

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Grills are used to soften or harden the effect of other architectural elements. A semi circular stone arch bereft of any carvings or appendages can be made to look softer and less dominant by a suitable grill pattern. Similarly a flowing pointed arch or multi curved arch with flutes etc. can be made little more over bearing or imposing by geometric patterned grill.

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Grills are used to divide very large open faces or gaps into visually manageable sections. Grills over Chowk areas in old Delhi and Northern India houses are used as walkways for accessing rooms across the Chowk and also for sleeping and drying clothes.

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