This combined communion rail and chancel screen is in a small Anglican church in rural Nova Scotia. The congregation is small but has a number of devoted supporters of whom my client is one. I'd worked with him before on lighting for the same church and the chancel screen came as an exciting challenge.
The space on the platform was limited, especially as it has to accomodate the Baroque ensemble which has presented summer concerts here for twenty years, so the ironwork was to combine screen and rail in one piece. Because the Anglican Church permits a chancel screen only if it doesn't obscure the congregation's view of the altar, I could resist my temptation to fill the whole 21-foot space to a ten-foot height (or even to the ceiling) with iron. The client provided a sketch suggesting the Tudor rose motif, which I had already used in the lighting, and the ogee arches. The rose and the fleur-de-lis are traditional emplems of St. Mary.
Xm Yn --- + --- = 1 Am Bn
With a programable pocket calculator and graph paper I could try out different values for "m" and "n", which determine the curvature, and, for the shape I liked, change the "A" and "B" values to the dimensions of the center arch and run it once more to get a shape that was "same" but larger. This would all have been easier with Mathmatica or a CAD progam but all I had at the time was the calculator. Incidentally, this equation is related to Piet Hein's "superellipse" or "superegg'.
The D-shaped depressions along the lower edge were made with a similar fixture, but with a spring-retracted punch. Each one required one blow with a 5# hammer, about five per heat. Because they stretched only one edge of the stock, they resulted in pronounced edgebend which was cured by vigorous crosspeening along the back of the opposite edge.
The twisted element of the molding is 1/4" hex bar which gives a softerlooking twist than square stock.
The client had suggested openwork roses but I wanted to try somthing demonstrated at the Towards a New Iron Age conference by British blacksmith Stuart Hill, a "cut out, forge and weld back" technique. The railing was to be only about 24" high because a greater height would be awkward for kneeling communicants and this meant that the square panels that fit within the opening would be small enough to be easily managable in plate. I had the squares sheared and the holes torched by the supplier. Five tear drop shapes cut from each cut-out disc were textured with a 1/4" diameter fullering die under a 25# hammer which spread them enough that, after the edges were curled up, they still more than filled the circular openings. The edges of the 3/16" plate panels are upset to about 1/4". Turning up the edges by hand distorted the plates but produced a softer look than would have resulted from having it done on a box brake. It would have been really nice to have had a gas forge so that the whole plate could have been hot at once when I trying to get them flat again!
The rose panels were glass-bead blasted at the local automotive speed shop. All the other parts were pickled clean in phosphoric acid and everything treated with Oxpho-Blue(tm). Two 750-watt electric paint strippers with the heat shields taken off made good immersion heaters to keep the acid at working temperature in a chilly shop.
The sconces, from 16 ga. and exhaust pipe offcuts, are buffed to a mirror finish and have keyhole slots which fit over and snap down onto panhead screws in the brackets. They can be snapped off for cleaning and be snapped back on again. Using the sconce brackets as spacers between the pillars was a fortunate design choice, because the ends could be ground during final fitup to compensate for unevenness in the pillars and make the whole screen pull up true when the bolts were tightened. And, because they projected beyond the plane of the screen over their full five-foot length, they work effectively to give the screen three-dimensional quality where very litle space was available.
I had expected installation to reveal all my oversights and
ignorance, squeezed down to the end of the project like the tangles
in a rope you're coiling up. But it only took a couple of days
including sawing through the floor of the church to get at the
crawlspace and all went smoothly. I knew it was looking good when
the client volunteered to drive my wife to her nursing shift at
night in a snowstorm sooner than interrupt the installation.