Cast Iron

The production of cast-iron sculpture began during the industrial revolution in the nineteenth century, as iron casting skills were developed and new production techniques made iron a cost-effective material for sculpture and ornament. As iron rusts rapidly if unprotected, a high percentage of iron objects including sculptures were originally painted, either naturalistically or to resemble other materials such as bronze or stone, traditionally using lead-rich oil-based paints. Cast iron is a brittle material, making it susceptible to impact damage and stresses caused by expansion rusting of construction joints in the object. Cast iron can be repaired using a range of techniques such as pinning, stitching or welding. However great care is required when attempting repairs, especially if heat is involved in a process, such as welding, as localised thermal expansion can induce further cracking and subsequent structural failure. Missing or severely damaged elements can be recast and replaced. It is important that existing paint is analysed so that original paint schemes can be identified and reapplied as much iron sculpture has been over painted many times in its life.