Wondrous Wrought Iron

By Clinton J. Holloway


Since ancient times, humans have fashioned useful objects from iron, one of the major natural components that makes up our planet. About 5,000 years ago our ancestors learned to manipulate the metal found within the earth’s crust to create weapons and utilitarian objects. Later, the use of iron became so prolific as to lend its name to an epoch, the Iron Age, generally given as the period between 1200 and 500 B.C.


Throughout China, the Near East, into Europe and Zimbabwe in Africa, the ancient peoples manipulated iron into all sorts of tools that had both function and beauty. Closer to home, in the early 19th century the production of iron greatly influenced the economy of Middle Tennessee through the efforts of such men as Montgomery Bell and his iron works, “Pattison Forge,” in Dickson County.


In today’s world steel has largely replaced iron as a building material. However, we need look no further than GasLamp and GasLamp Too to find wondrous examples of both wrought and cast iron that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing to modern decorators.


One advantage of iron is that many of the pieces are on a monumental scale because of the durability and flexibility of the material. At GasLamp Too, in Booth T-108, we spotted this amazing French plant stand, coming in at over 5 feet tall, for $1200 (photo, above right). It would look great both indoors and out, in a garden, entry way, living room or just about any corner of your home.


Another intriguing piece, also found at Too, is this three foot tall iron tree (photo, left; $198 in Booth T-274). With a great “wood” patina and six sides made from three interlocking flat “plates,” this tree can be used for displaying all sorts of treasures. With fall around the corner, this tree would make a great autumn and Halloween decoration.


When I think of wrought iron my mind goes back to the traditional benches and furniture that were ubiquitous to gardens of former generations. These were often formed in the pattern of leaves, sticks or grape clusters. In Booth T-167 there is a lovely garden tableau with one of Grandma’s grape pattern garden benches (photo, below right; $135). This would serve perfectly as a quiet place in your garden.


For those who might prefer a more industrial look to go with a new downtown loft and those exposed brick walls, check out the monumental, industrial steel coffee table offered by EPIC at GasLamp Too (photo, below left; $1,95 at Booth T-286; a matching end table, not shown, is $795).


My personal favorite is a set of industrial rolling stairs or ladder with five steps that measures more than six feet tall (photo, right). Use it as a ladder or as shelves; it will not stick around long at only $210!


These are only a few examples of the wondrous wrought iron found at the Gas Lamp Antique and Decorating Malls. Come check them out for yourselves. But if you do, bring a truck and help move these wonderful items, which are sure to be worth their weight in iron!                 

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