Seminar: Colour & Finish in Heritage Ironwork

Event Description

We live in a world of many and varied colours, from bright and bold to subtle and calm, and we make full use of this wide palette to decorate our built environment.  So why is it that when it comes to ironwork the majority of people specify black? This day aims to explode the ‘always black’ myth, look at alternatives, and outline best practice for discovering, conserving and re-instating colour schemes.

Tickets: £85 (£70 early bird until 28th September) includes lunch and refreshments.  Student discount available.

Registration: 9.30am   Close: 4.30pm


Preconception – Do you automatically think of black as the appropriate colour for heritage ironwork? If so then you are in the majority, but why is this? We will explore:

  • The 20th Century fashion for black ironwork & its impact
  • The misconception that ironwork always was and always should be black


Paint Research – a crucial practice in projects where the surface might be damaged or removed. Find out:

  • Why paint sampling & analysis is so important
  • How to record findings

Conserving Finishes and Coatings – How do you practically go about:

  • Retaining original paint layers
  • Localised paint removal and repairs

Colour for Historic Settings – We will discuss methodology for:

  • Re-instating original colours
  • Establishing a colour scheme when no original paint remains or for new work in historic settings


Patrick Baty, Historic Paint Consultant, renowned expert on the paint and colours of the past four centuries:

Patrick will provide a brief explanation of the main pigments used on ironwork through the ages, giving examples of colours that he has found on buildings and structures dating from the 1630s through to the 1930s.  These range from royal palaces to private houses and from major bridges to bandstands.


Kathryn Ferry, Architectural Historian specialising in the colour theory of Owen Jones:

Kathryn will illuminate the work of Owen Jones, the architect who opened Victorian eyes to the beauty of applied polychromy and was unusual among his contemporaries in championing iron as a building material.  Taking us from his travels through Turkey, Greece and Granada back onto home-turf where he battled to win the English establishment over to his bold colour scheme for the Great Exhibition building, Kathryn will offer a historical perspective on how colour on ironwork has been viewed in different ages.

Bethan Griffiths, director of The Ironwork Studio, is a designer and consultant passionate about ironwork & craftsmanship. Projects range from elegant new designs to heritage conservation. Bethan will explore what influences colour fashions and the impact of colour on our perception of decorative ironwork.



Peter Meehan ACR, Conservator, Historic Metalwork Conservation Company, with wide-ranging experience in several fields of metalwork and a particular interest in external finish.

Peter will look at the process of paint sampling to identify the history of a piece’s decoration, especially important if the ironwork is to be repainted due to previous coating failure and corrosion to the underlying metal.  The process of taking paint samples is straightforward and will be described in this talk including its preparation for examination.  He will also cover approaches to the conservation of sound coatings and how to go about replacing them if they have failed.

Charlotte Owen, Paint Researcher, Hirst Conservation, with a conservation background at the National Trust, English Heritage and Cambridge University Museums:

Charlotte will discuss the merits of Paint Research v. Paint Analysis, examining important distinctions between paint scrapes, paint analysis and architectural paint research.




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