The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Venetian Bent-Iron Work.

by Mrs L. C. d'A. Lipscomb
Volume 1, 1890, pg. 754

Now that the days are short, and we have several months of long winter evenings before us, many parents may be glad to hear of an occupation for this children, boys or girls which will interest them, and at the same time cultivate their physical and mental powers.

The industry to which I allude is Venetian Bent-Iron Work, and I venture to recommend it for four good reasons. Firstly, because it is manual work, and trains the fingers to be careful and correct; secondly, because it is artistic work, and trains the eye, besides developing any talent for construction or design; thirdly, because it is tidy work, that is, it does not make a litter, a newspaper spread over the table-cloth being the only precaution required, nor does it take up much room when not in use; fourthly, because it is inexpensive work, the outlay for tools and and materials being small. After a little experience, the results are useful for presents or novelties at a bazaar. Any child of ten years of age may do the simpler objects in bent-iron, and the more intricate designs may well claim the attention of older brothers and sisters, so that this work affords pleasure to children of every age.

Each worker should be provided with a measure of inches, what is called a "two-foot rule" is the most convenient, but a tape-measure will serve the purpose; and should also have two pairs of pliers, one round-nosed, the other flat-nosed, which can be obtained from any ironmonger for 1s. or 6d. each. I would recommend that only those made of the best English steel be bought, as I have invariably found them cheapest in the long run, those of foreign or inferior manufacture being liable to break under hard pressure. They should be about 4 inches long. The iron is bought in strips, two feet in length, known as ribbon-iron, and three kinds will be required. No. 1 is 1/4 inch wide, and strong; No. 2 is 1/4 inch wide, and thin; No. 3 is 1/8 inch wide, and thin. I give them these numbers in this paper simply to describe the different kinds needed at first; it can be obtained also in other sizes. No. 1 is used for supports or any part which requires to be firm and strong, such as the legs of a tripod which holds a vase; No. 2 for any part which is purely ornamental, such as the work in a bracket, where the weight is borne by the frame, also for making firm bindings of strong iron; No. 3 for binding generally and for making light and small articles such as a letter rack. Having provided materials, we have next to consider what we shall make, and designs must be supplied. I will give one or two easy ones below for beginners, and clever children will soon be able to invent others for themselves; but for those who cannot, a trifling cost from Mr. W. Parratt, 5, Leeds Road, Ilkney-in-Wharfedale where only they are to be had, and if any difficulty is experienced by parents living in the country in procuring the iron, tools, or frames, he can supply everything requisite for the work.

Now we can begin. Cut the iron into the lengths required by means of the flat-nosed pliers, then hold a piece in the left hand about two inches from the end and curl it up with the round-nosed pliers, which must always be held with the points upward so that the iron is bent away from the worker. First take hold of the extreme end of the iron with the pliers and curve it round the tool so as to make a complete circle as in Fig. 1; then gradually move the pliers further along the iron,

gently bending it, forming a curve of greater or less amount as required. A little practice will probably be required before the curves can be made quite symmetrically, and to beginners I would say use the stronger iron at first, as the thinner is so flexible it yields to the slightest pressure.

To make an ornamental bracket like Fig. 2, procure a framework with a hook, the two sides being 9in. each.

Cut off pieces of No. 2 iron of the lengths in inches given, and curl them up so as to fit the frame and each other. When all the curves are made, and laid in their places on a table, then begin to bind them together, finally binding them to the frame.

To make a photograph frame like Fig. 3, have a frame made like Fig. 4, of iron 3/8 in. wide, 6 3/4 in. by 4 1/4 in. Cut off the pieces of iron required, and after curving, bind them together. To do this, cut off 1in. of No. 3 iron and bend up about one third of it until it resembles Fig. 5, put the loop over two curves where they have to be joined, press it close together with the pliers, and bend the remaining third round, again pressing it firmly.

Care should always be taken to make the bindings look as neat as possible, the end being visible from the back and not the front, and placed on the lower side where possible. To make the photograph frame stand on a table, a support might be made like Fig. 6, of No. 1 iron. For the principal stem take a piece of 24in. long, and bend it almost double at a point four inches from the end, put it through the centre of the top of the frame between the curves, with the short end uppermost, press it to the frame, and bind it very firmly at the back, quite close to the frame. Curl up both ends as in Fig. 6, making the longer one of such a curve that the frame slopes at the usual angle. Then of No. 3 iron cut twelve pieces 6 1/2 in. long, curve them as in Fig. 3, and bind them on the inside of the frame at the same time as those outside, taking care that they are quite at the front of the frame, so as to allow room behind for the glass and photograph.

These are kept in their place by two bands of No. 1 iron, 5in. long, curled as in Fig. 7, and made to fit with a print against the outer sides of the frame. Space forbids my giving any more examples. I can only mention letter-racks, music stands, pipe-racks, flower-pot covers, stands for vases of all shapes and sizes, lamps, candelabra, fire-screens, &c., as suitable for this work. I think few parents would find any difficulty in teaching this most fascinating of handicrafts, and there is practically no limit to the variety of useful and ornamental articles which may be produced in Venetian Bent-Iron Work.

Typed by happi, May 2017