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What are Wrought Iron Trees?

PJP Schroeder
PJP Schroeder

Wrought iron trees are a versatile and useful type of home décor. Most often with a satin black finish, this metal art complements a wide variety of decorating styles. Their sturdy metal "branches" may have loops and are positioned to hold many kinds of objects. Though decorative, they are often highly functional items, and can be used for display and storage.

This popular wrought iron design comes in many sizes. One of the larger metal accents is a coat tree. As wrought iron trees are strong and durable, they work well to hold heavy coats or other clothing. Along the same lines, there is a mitten tree. With a similar metal design, the mitten tree is smaller and makes keeping track of mittens and gloves an easy task. This particular size is also good for kitchen use, for hanging mugs or storing fruit, for example.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

There are also more specialized wrought iron trees. Wine enthusiasts may appreciate a version designed to hold wine bottles in the correct position. The smallest types work well as jewelry trees, making organizing earrings and necklaces simple. Perhaps the most popular use of these wrought iron decorations, though, is as artificial Christmas trees.

Caring for wrought iron trees is easy. It is best to keep them dry to prevent rust. Occasional dusting is also recommended. Harsh, abrasive chemicals or scouring pads should be avoided during cleaning, as they could scratch the finish. For pieces used outdoors, a light coat of liquid wax makes cleaning easier and keeps water off.

Surprisingly, many modern wrought iron trees are not made of actual wrought iron. The process of creating this specific metal is very labor intensive and costly. A metal worker must hold the metal with tongs and "work" it under a steam hammer. Many in the metal arts business estimate that making it costs twice as much as steel. Most wrought iron production stopped in the mid-20th century.

Before cost and scarcity became problems, wrought iron was very sought after in the ornamental iron industry. It is very easy to work with, corrosion resistant, handles stress well, and accepts a thicker finish. These features result in beautiful, long-lasting pieces.

At present, wrought iron accents in stores are most likely made of mild steel. They are made to look like original wrought iron by adding a hammered texture, which removes the smooth, shiny appearance. To create the famous dull black appearance with silvery highlights, manufacturers and artists use wax or paint coatings.

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