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In order to understand the technique of forging or, in other words, to understand the concept of wrought iron we must first explain that it is the process of shaping the iron by beating and striking it after heating it to make it ductile.
It is an ancient handicraft technique. It is basically used to work the metal to give it the desired shape as well as improving its structure. The reason for this is to refine the size of the iron grain. Wrought metal is stronger and more ductile than cast metal and it has a greater resistance to fatigue and impact. Thus it is often used in outdoor decoration: gates, large windows, garden furniture, streetlamps, etc. However, in Mallorca it can also be found in indoor decoration. Wrought iron is used to make bed heads and beds, mirrors, decoration articles, lamps, balconies, doors, stairs, handrails, grilles and blinds.
Furthermore, it is very interesting to see and learn more about iron sculpture, furniture and designs. More and more people are attracted to it and decorate their houses, gardens and terraces with iron, which is highly valued for its characteristics and qualities.
The precise date of the discovery of this particular technique of melting iron ore to produce metal is unknown. The first iron implements were discovered by archaeologists in Egypt in 3,000 BC. Iron ornaments are known to have been produced before then. The complex technique of hardening iron weapons by heat treatment was known to the Greeks by 1,000 BC.
The local artisan blacksmiths must prepare the metal before making the wrought iron articles that will later decorate streets and houses. The first step is to heat the metal to a high temperature in order to then strike it and give it the desired shape. Large hammers are used to create delicate pieces. The blacksmith also uses other tools to treat the iron and complete the work. The blacksmith shapes the iron with his hands and tools and designs the figure that he will later thicken, compress, bend, weld, pierce and cut. Each of these steps represents the six techniques used by blacksmiths who through hard work achieve the desired shape, style and design.
Wrought iron has been made on the island for a long time, but it is more common in some municipalities. Such is the case of the municipality of Sóller. Modernism, an unprecedented artistic and cultural movement on the island, thrived in Sóller in the late 19th century and early 20th century. This movement was outstanding and expanded through its integration in everyday elements such as architecture, sculpture, painting, decoration and even literature. Modernism left its mark on the town. Nowadays you just have to walk along its streets and squares to appreciate how its essence has remains untouched over the years (balconies, windows, handrails and gates).
The wrought iron ornaments in the Balearic Parliament are another interesting example as they are part of the history of one of the most emblematic buildings of Mallorca. The stairs are fitted with wrought iron and gold handrails. The gold was painted black to make sure that visitors did not give in to the temptation to steal the gold as a memento. But it is not the only example of wrought iron or modernism in Palma. Other examples of the style are the building of La Caixa (El Gran Hotel) or the Museum of Mallorca, where you can see a handrail shaped as an olive branch.
At present there are many blacksmiths producing wrought iron. Even though aluminium became popular for its durability and other characteristics, it has been unable to replace wrought iron, which is still very common in Mallorca.
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