On Design
Creating an original art metalwork

How does the design process work? How much does it cost?
This section will detail the process involved - from first meeting to final installation.
the Wareham Forge - Artisan Blacksmith

pull out guide
Main Sections










March - 2018
Potential Customers Please Note!
After 40 years at the forge, I am limiting the new commissions I undertake :
Please look HERE for details before contacting me.

This section remains as a general reference.
There is nothing in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper,
and he who considers price only is that man's lawful prey.
ATTRIBUTION: John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

The first thing any potential client should do is familiarize themselves with the past work around this web site.
Certainly take a look at other pieces that are of the same type as you are looking for - the GALLERY section your best start. Its a good idea to take a look at other objects as well, as it will give you an idea of my general design style. You will see that my best work is in my signature RIVENDALE style - a blending of Art Nouveau with elements of Celtic and Norse. I can of course design in other contemporary and historical styles.

Please : Read the remainder of THIS information page!
Read Questions & Answers - It may save time *before* you contact me!

Explore the Possibilities of HAND FORGING

I have created a special GALLERY OF DETAILS. Over the years I have created a large number of sample pieces and prototypes. This collection of individual elements gives just a small idea of what is possible through aggressively hand forging the metal. You might find it interesting taking a look at the PATRON SOUGHT section, which shows a number of rough concept designs that were never completed.

You may also be interested in my general commentaries :
Defining the Artist Blacksmith
Wrought Iron Work
: What it really is - and it really means

Next, e-mail me to start a general discussion of your project.
You should have some idea as to your budget, time frame, and some technical details (rough sizes for example) on hand.

Typically what follows is an overview discussion via e-mail. If it looks like I can meet your requirements, I then like to meet the client at their home. This allows for me to get some sense of their taste, and allows me to bring some reference materials for them to paw through. We discuss and mark things they like from historical or other contemporary pieces, working through my collection reference materials on modern, Art Nouveau, Settlement / Colonial, and Medieval periods. A rough budget framework is also established. This is based on what funding is available, and hopefully is realistic in terms of the amount of work required to undertake the project. The amount is modified by variables like finishes required and installation requirements. Obviously the more complex the work - the higher the cost.

I then take the references in mind and make up a number of rough designs within the budget. These are then presented - with modifications suggested by the customer as required. Its important to realize that I treat each project as an artistic process, so there may be some variations from the original roughs to the finished object. (Take a look at any of the roughs to finished pieces shown throughout the web site.) This results of all this are combined in a final approved design with a hard quote. I like to make all my own physical measurements, to ensure they are accurate and include the type of details the work requires. This means a visit to the job site if not lived in right now. At this point a contract is signed with a deposit made and dates confirmed. Normal practice is for this deposit to amount to 50% of the total. Fabrication is then undertaken, bearing in mind the production deadlines specified in the contract. The balance of funds is due on final delivery.

The standard text that a contract will be based on can be seen here.

Creation of a custom hand forged railing presents special challenges. The market is dominated by 'cut and paste' assembly shops, who take standardized factory made elements and weld them up into frameworks. This is then called 'hand made wrought iron work' even though it is machine produced and most certainly not made of historic wrought iron at all. One of the most important factors which will dominate over any creative possibilities are the current Ontario Building Codes, which have specific requirements on size, shape, and materials on structural hand rails. (A short overview of some of these requirements is available as a reference HERE.)

Everyone wants to know HOW MUCH. Obviously each original design has a differing price tag. Each element is HAND FORGED - this takes both TIME and SKILL. The more complex the individual elements and the larger the number of elements within any piece will effect directly the overall total cost. Large installations have additional costs because of the raw effort required to physically construct and transport them. Bear in mind that I bring over 30 years experience as a metalsmith and designer to each project. (Consider what that skill level should cost in relation to your own workplace.)

Some rough guidelines - 2016
(refer back to completed projects seen on this site)

GRILLS Minimum $150 per square foot
GATES Minimum $1500 for 30" wide x 4ft tall
RAILINGS Minimum $350 per linear foot x 42" tall
DESIGN rate Minimum $50 per hour
SHOP rate Minimum $300 per production day

Note that these are MINIMUMS - a complex design will cost considerably more.

There is a 'design fee' for producing a custom art work, layout drawings, hard quote.
This amount will be incorporated into the initial deposit, should the contract be signed.

Normally any quote will include:

Coating of industrial enamel primer and coloured top coat
Delivery to Central Ontario location
Basic installation

Still interested in custom work for your home or office?

The Wareham Forge

The Hamlet of Wareham, R.R. #2 Proton Station, Ontario


(519) 923-9219 // E-Mail

Riverdale Railing

An ongoing project over the middle part of 2007 was a commission for a set of front porch railings for a private home in the Riverdale area of Toronto. I have documented the process of creating a custom art metalwork - from first contact through finial installation. The resulting photo-essay can be seen : Railings for Riverdale House. The accompanying descriptions of the project will be of interest to anyone interested in commissioning work themselves


A promotional CD-ROM is available containing specific materials found on this web site.

The segments gathered on this portfolio disk showcase past work and potential designs that will be of the most interest to your clients. This includes structural and decorative pieces, both exterior and interior. Considerable attention is centred on objects for the GARDEN, as this has been a primary focus of the workshop over the last several years. The disk is designed to work on both Macintosh and IBM/PC computers, using your existing web browser.

Contact me if you are interested in a copy.
Sorry, limited to the Trade only!

Continue for more information on the following related topics:

Gallery of Past Work
Architectural Designs
for YOUR Garden
Patron Sought

(Short Cut HERE back to the site index / map.)

All text photography   Darrell Markewitz - the Wareham Forge