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Hand forged architectural ironwork.

Acanthus Leaves

Forged floral compositions including the acanthus leaf family were perfected by the French in the 18th century and used extensively in grand staircases and palace gates, including the Place Stanislas in Nancy by Jean Lamour. Leaves were forged from thin sheet metal using a process known as repousse, which means "pushed", that is the thin sheet metal is pushed or hammered from both the front and back side into exquisite forms. These sheet metal leaves are then riveted to the heavier scroll components.

Comparable German floral work was forged from durable heavy iron flat bars and plates, especially the ironwork of Wurzburg Palace by George Oeg (1700). This work was in some ways technically superior to the French work and places Oeg, the artist genius, in the Beethoven category. However Oeg's work lacked the grace and seamless fluidity of Lamour, whom we could compare to Mozart. Also Oeg did not develop the acanthus leaf family from heavy bar material.

Lamour's outside work rusted out and had to be almost completely replaced. Oeg's work is as solid as the day he installed it.

After 34 years of leaf forging, trying out a new idea, we produced the 2 crude prototype acanthus leaves in the photograph above, forged not from thin sheet metal, but from thick bars. Rough from the forge, they represent a technical breakthrough. We eagerly anticipate further development of the acanthus leaf and other floral forms with heavy material, which will be entering uncharted waters.

Copyright © 2010 Greenwood Ironworks, Petersburg, VA, USA Phone: 804-861-2788