Before the dawn of the industrial age, the metal of the blacksmith was wrought iron, made and refined in charcoal fires. The iron combined with the elements of the fire to make an individual material whose properties have never been equalled for ornamental ironwork. The great wrought ironwork of the eighteenth century was done in such metal, and very many examples exist today. For example the Screens at Hampton Court by Jean Tijou, the work of Thomas Bakewell and the Davies Brothers' gates at Chirk Castle, to name a few.
Charcoal iron can withstand corrosion for hundreds of years as proven by the fact that there is a wealth of heritage ironwork in existence. Traditional ironwork is not easy to maintain, as elements of design are frequently difficult or even impossible to paint. This applies particularly to leaf work and repoussé sheet metalwork, especially where elements are back-to-back or three-dimensional. The only material to use for replacements during conservation is one that is intrinsically proof against corrosion.
Charcoal iron sheet is soft and malleable when annealed, so that a good depth of cold working and sharp detail is possible without cracking. It is softer and more pleasant to work than mild steel, and responds well to both lead block and pitch block repoussé techniques.
Charcoal iron sheet has a smooth surface, largely free of scale, and responds well-to planishing and abrasive polishing making it ideal for the accurate replication of armour and weaponry.
The Real Wrought Iron Company recycles old charcoal iron and has pleasure in making it available once again. Sheet is available in standard rolled thicknesses or in billet form for your own reduction.