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The Art of Wrought Iron

Wrought iron was the first type of steel to be discovered; it was probably obtained accidentally as a by-product of copper production. It was produced by placing iron ore on a layer of charcoal in a domed furnace. The oven was sealed, combustion was achieved by blowing air with a bellows. The process lasted a few hours.
At the end of the process the furnace had to be destroyed to extract the resulting sponge iron, or bloom, which had to be beaten to eliminate the numerous waste, hence the name wrought iron.

Wrought iron was a steel with a low carbon content (see soft iron), which was therefore impossible to temper. Wrought iron objects were therefore very ductile and bent easily. In order to be made more resistant they had to be enriched with carbon using primitive carburizing methods. For the same reason, the more effective and laborious package steel technique was subsequently developed.

The term wrought iron also indicates the single iron element, usually a rod with a round, square or rectangular section, hot forged and beaten with a hammer on the anvil by the blacksmith, until the desired element is obtained. Wrought iron can take on various shapes, from the simplest such as a spear, a leaf, a twist, to the more elaborate such as an ivy branch, a rose, curls and various spirals; typical uses of wrought iron are gates and bed headboards.

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