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Posts Tagged ‘design and the economy’

Metal Arts in the Landscape | Techniques for a Changing Economy

25 Oct

Sweeping Changes in the economy for architectural ironwork, combined with recent strictures of building codes, do not mean that the era of distinctive metalwork is over. The invasion of cheap imports may have closed down some American metal art studios, and mass-produced fencing may have captured that portion of the market willing to settle for a generic look, but fine fencing and gates are still available if you know where to look, and how to design.

Building on 25 years of experience with one-off projects,
from monumental forged works to CAD castings, Ed Mack’s innovative forge studio is still creating fresh artistic work for a changing market. Fine Architectural Metalsmiths continues to reinvent the fence line with a fresh vocabulary of design elements. FAM approaches a new project from decades of experience, knowing what mix of old and new methods of fabrication will best serve the project.


Large-scale landscape projects can involve long runs of fencing for safety and code compliance. Clean-lined construction, with close-up details, offers architectural interest without compromising the open view.


Forged corner panels form a grace note in a long run of fencing. Artfully designed panels can be strategically inserted into a choice sightline or used to provide a visual sense of structure, as in these corner panels above.


A simple collared radius arc under the cap rail softens the fence line.


The addition of a flattened ovoid on the lower picket creates a subtle line of mass that breaks up the vertical lines.

FAM has been on the forward curve of changes in fine metalwork, merging 3-D modeling with traditional bronze casting, using innovative casting techniques and forging methods, and exploring thin-film true metal bronzing and other surface treatments. For the right project and client, FAM has an international network of metal artisans with specific skills and techniques to tap.

With the affiliate Center for Metal Arts teaching studio, FAM has been at the forefront of ergonomic forge tooling and production methods. Ergonomic techniques can produce a forged leaf in one heat instead of five returns to the forge, a considerable savings of time and cost. Power hammer tooling, redesigned to move the hot iron more efficiently, lead to new ways of forging, and therefore new design ideas


Using the natural form of a taper and repeat die-forming turns a simple vertical-line fence into a botanical frieze using one repeated bud-like finial element. The newel posts are set slightly higher, and use the mass of a riveted composite finial for emphasis.


FAM brings these developments in the blacksmithing studio to new design elements for fencing, railings, and gates in the contemporary landscape. For the landscape architect searching for fencing and gates that will complement the landscape, the FAM studio is an innovative resource for contemporary project design.


Safety codes have been especially punishing to swimming pool fencing. with the requirement for 4 feet of unadorned vertical lines. Here, a simple repeated leaf arcing above the 4 ft. limit adds a gesture of softness


The arcing vertical suggests many simple variations for architectural interest in a code-compliant pool fence.