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A wrought iron window is a type of decorative window. It consists of a hand-formed wrought iron grating coupled with glass windowpanes. While such windows were common through the 18th century, in modern times they are mostly installed retroactively on older houses or as part of restoration efforts for historical buildings.
To make a wrought iron window, an artisan first decides upon the design he wishes to make, then hammers the iron into the desired shapes. Common motifs in wrought iron include religious symbols, swirl and floral patterns. These are often combined with bar or grating structures, as originally, these windows also served as an extra layer of security for the house or other building. Specific designs vary by location; windows in New Orleans, Louisiana, for example, have a very particular look that is different from anywhere else.
From the early medieval age to the 18th century, wrought iron windows were an important part of Western architecture. They were generally custom produced by blacksmiths for the houses of the wealthy or for religious buildings for decorative purposes. Unlike many modern interpretations of the wrought iron window, gratings in medieval times often featured hand-poured glass panes for each space and were customized for the space they were to occupy. As glass working matured, it became common to make large glass panes and simply install the ironwork over them rather than putting small pieces together.
The term “wrought iron window” has come to simply represent the decorative style of window reminiscent of traditional ironwork. Wrought iron fell out of favor as a material with the coming of the Industrial Revolution and the capability to mass-produce steel. Most artisans who make authentic wrought iron windows now work on a very small scale due to the labor involved. Mass produced, commercially available window gratings which are marked as wrought iron are actually made of steel.
Many people who own historical buildings find that the look of wrought iron windows complements the aesthetics of the structure because it ages gracefully and evokes a different era. Their longevity is another draw — as almost all modern wrought iron windows are artisan made, they will frequently be of heirloom quality and extremely customizable. The windows also continue to serve their original function of protection, especially in less-developed areas or for buildings whose structures make it difficult for them to install other security features.