RECLAIM magazine inaugural issue features Ironart’s Martin Smith

We were delighted to feature in RECLAIM magazine’s very first issue (March 2016), with an interview with Ironart’s very own Martin Smith!

In the interview, Martin talks about his background in restoration, his passion for the Short Stirling bomber restoration he is undertaking and talks in detail about the process of the recent restoration of a beautiful Coalbrookdale Nasturtium bench.

 

RECLAIM front page - March 2016

Ironart's Martin Smith talks about his background in restoration and recent Coalbrookdale bench restoration project

Ironart’s Martin Smith talks about his background in restoration and recent Coalbrookdale bench restoration project

A cast iron jigsaw puzzle

One of the most satisfying projects we’ve undertaken recently was the restoration of this beautiful cast iron Coalbrookdale Nasturtium bench.

Cast iron is a durable metal and was (and still is) used frequently to make garden furniture, because it can withstand the elements while allowing the designer to introduce a high level of detail and decoration. The drawback of using cast iron is that it is susceptible to cracking if it’s dropped, which is exactly what happened to this particular bench.

Coalbrookdale benches are very sought after these days, it’s possible to date a bench by looking closely at the diamond stamp which were imprinted onto all manner of products. See attached image.

“From 1842 to 1893 products registered with the British Patents Office were given a distinctive diamond mark bearing a code which summarised the material (class 1 for metals), the day, the month and year of registration and the bundle of documents at the Public Record Office where the patent is to be found.”

Cast iron date marks

 

If you are lucky enough to own one of these historic benches, and would like to know more about our restoration service and what it’s likely to cost, please follow this link.

Martin painstakingly recreated this original bench using the myriad of pieces supplied. The pictures below tell the story of the restoration. We’re delighted to say this particular story has a happy ending!

 

Coalbrookdale bench restoration

We have been commissioned to restore a number of lovely Coalbrookdale cast iron benches over the last few months. These items are becoming extremely sought after and are fetching high sums at auction so are well worth restoring. Here are two separate restoration commissions as an illustration of the kind of challenges the restoration team here at Ironart are tasked with.

The 1864 Lily of the Valley bench came in to us in  July 2014. It had already been blast cleaned and previously very poorly repaired. Martin and Cecilie took the old ‘bodged’ welds off and replaced with fresh welds and brackets where they were missing. They added bits of missing leaf work  which were carved from scratch out of cast plate. The bench was then reassembled (reusing the slats it had been sent with) and supplied to our client with a red oxide paint finish.

The second bench is a lovely Fern Coalbrookdale which came in to us in June. We took paint samples as it looked to us as if the original Coalbrookdale green paint was still in situ underneath the new layers. We had it cleaned  which revealed pinholes in the original casting (shown). The centre mount on the back of the bench was broken and there was a lug missing. All fixings had corroded so Martin had to drill and tap and make new bolts. There was a missing front slat mount, and another on the back. The bench was supplied painted and the client replaced the slats themselves.

If you have cast iron garden furniture that could do with some TLC and would like a quote to have it restored, please get in touch.

Ironart in Antique Collecting magazine

Garden antiques expert James Rylands writes in detail about Coalbrookdale garden furniture in the July/August issue of Antique Collecting magazine – an interesting article that’s well worth a read if you can lay  your hands on a copy. The magazine is published by the Antique Collector’s Club www.antique-collecting.co.uk 01394 389 950 We were approached by the magazine to offer advice on the restoration of Coalbrookdale furniture and Ironart’s Martin Smith is quoted in the article.  James Rylands been involved in antiques from 1979 when he joined Sotheby’s. In 1986  he set up the Garden Statuary department in Sothebys Sussex. He is the co-author of a book on garden ornaments and the founder of Summers Place Auctions in West Sussex, which specialises in garden statuary.

For more information on the restoration of antique cast iron furniture, please take a look at the Restoration area on our website, where you’ll find a portfolio of commissions. If you have any questions or want some advice about restoration, please get in touch.

 

 

In the workshop this week…

Some happy snaps taken today showing the diversity of projects on the go here at Ironart in a typical working day!

Jason has made this set of three beautiful forged field gates for a wedding venue in Canterbury, Kent which have just come back from the galvanizers.  Dom was working on some fiddly drop bolts for a customer while Martin has been busy laying out pieces for an amazing ‘found objects’ entrance gate which will grace the entrance of a cool revamped pub on Colston Hill in the heart of Bristol. This project has been commissioned by local interior and garden design firm Woodhouse & Law. We can tell that Martin is in his element working on this project because he’s been singing non-stop since he started work on it. The gate will evolve as it comes together – we’ll keep you posted as he progresses it. He’s also working on two antique Coalbrookdale benches, one Lily of the Valley three seat bench dated 1864 and a huge 6ft long Nasturtium bench – never a dull moment!