Ken Robertson is 47 years old and he has been in the steel business his entire life but in 2005 he decided to forge a new business out of his of love art and iron. At Ornamental Ironworks he makes handmade iron gates, railings and fences. But he does much more then that he also designs and makes beautiful one-of-a-kind and custom artistic pieces. He believes in creating pieces that are both practical and beautiful, and he accomplishes this by uniting his years of experience with his innate artistic talent.
Ken really enjoys collaborating with his clients. Here is a set of custom gates Ken created for a retired helicopter pilot. What better imagery than an eagle, king of the sky! Each head was first carved from wood and then cast in aluminum before being painted and mounted on the gate. The 54 foot gate was designed to fit an existing helicopter pad and provide an entry to the property. It is made of steel, and concealed under the eagle’s head, in the central pillar of each span, is an automatic hydraulic mechanism to open the gates.
Working closely with a client who has a strong love of nature he created this aluminum railing with it’s birds and bulrushes which were also carved in wood, then cast in solid aluminum. To bring out the detail in the birds they were coated in black and then hand rubbed with a metallic bronze finish.
This work of art was originally created in different mediums with wildlife being made first in wood. Each creature was hand carved then sand-cast in aluminum before being arranged and assembled. The branches that support the gate mount on steel posts embedded in concrete 4’ in the ground. This supports the 700 pounds of cast aluminum.
This client simply asked him to come up with something nice, which he certainly did. Drawing inspiration from the surrounding wine country he designed vines, leaves and grapes clusters, each one hand wrought from steel. To make it last, the entire piece was washed of grease then covered in a liquid plastic before being powder coated with a deep bronze finish that glows in the sun.
Ken can also create streamline designs when called for. The owners of this home were looking for clean lines in their railing to complement the modern architecture of their home. He has elegantly combined the warm maple rail with cool tempered glass and the stainless steel support to create a railing that is comfortable in the hand, visually open and structurally strong.
Ken makes many other pieces from custom fireplace fittings to benches and pieces of art and furniture. You can see much more of his work on his website. But to really appreciate the artisanry he brings to Ontario please watch this video. You will really get a sense of his background, and frankly the values which he brings to his livelihood and his community.
If you know other “Notable Artisans” for us to write about please let us know at admin@ArtisanOntario.ca