Creating an iron design for my clients is not always easy. It's difficult to show exactly how a scroll will look or whether picket collars verses picket baskets will be appropriate. When I meet with a customer, I ask them to pick out some existing iron designs that catch their eye. Once I see the type or style of iron design that the client has chosen that gives me some direction. There are literally hundreds of different elements that can be added to iron to make it beautiful. Most of the time, my clients want something unique to them, something very special that will compliment their surroundings and will give them pleasure for many, many years.
It may take several tries before actually coming up with a design that is perfect. I also take into consideration how practical the iron design is for the application. If my clients have small children, then cable type railing is not a good idea. The cables sag over time and if small children are climbing or hanging on them that will speed up the sagging process. If I'm asked to design a pool fence or gate enclosure there are even more limitations. The design cannot be climbable, it has to have very specific spacing between the pickets and it has to be at least a certain height.
If someone wants a railing design then there are different top rails to choose from and the following questions need to be asked; is the rail to serve a specific purpose? Is this rail to be used by an elderly person who might need a very graspable top rail? Are there children in the house that may catch their little hands on a sharp scroll end? Also, at certain heights there are specific code requirements that have to be adhered to. These are just some of the things to take into consideration when creating an iron railing design.
Once I've narrowed down what my client wants, and their taste, then it's time to roll up my sleeves and put together some sketches. We seldom hand forge our own scrolls or components. Labor is expensive and it would cost a fortune to have these items hand made by our craftsman. There are several companies that sell beautiful, solid, hand forged components. These components are made from different types of steel. I refer to each steel type as a family. If my client is particular about using only solid steel components, then I'll look in the solid plain bar family. If my client wants many scrolls or components then to help reduce the weight I'll use components from the tube steel family. There are also lovely designs that are made from solid flat bar or solid round bar. There are hammered, twisted and scored components to choose from to enhance your design. The possibilities are limitless.
To add some dimension, I'll combine square material with round material. The combination really works well and looks completely unique. Remember, it’s important not to box yourself into using specific materials. You may love the twisted or roped picket look, but in the end, it may not fit into the style you’re trying to achieve or match you home's architecture. Have an open mind, don’t limit yourself, and have fun with using different ornamentation . . . you may be surprised by the final product.