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I Forge Iron

National Cathedral gate posts finials

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  I was in DC last week and had a chance to get back to the National Cathedral. I took some pictures with a film box camera about 25 years ago. I have wanted to get back to there and take better pictures this time. The gate is one of eight in the vestibule and had carved heads on the top. The heads are of Viking/Saxon era men. The heads are carved 360 and are all different. When i was there the first time, I did not realize there was a carved back to the heads. The posts were about 1 1/2 wide and 5/8 thick.  The color of the finish is a rich, dark brown, as you can see in the picture. Any suggestions on how the hair was defined? I am guessing that it was carved in after the pieces were forged and cooled. Was it cut in with a chisel or a graver?  I have pictures of all four heads but showing just one to cut down on the size of the post.  Let me know if you would like to see more. If you get a chance to go the the cathedral, go because the artisan is incredible, whether metal, glass or stone. Well, I hope you enjoy the pictures



Brian Pierson







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If I remember correctly a lot of the iron work there was all done by Yellin.


As far as the detail, it's wouldn't surprise me if all of that wasn't done hot having just been looking at stuff on th Bryn Athyn cathedral which was done around the same time frame. The stuff in Bryn Athyn was all done hot.

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If you are wondering how it was supported all around without distorting, I have seen aluminum backup blocks employed like bottom swages to reduce damage to a finished surface. The basic forging and punchng can be done thus, with chiseled details cut later while the work is held in a vise.

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