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Our decorative chicken wire is so called as it is made in the twisted style of a mesh which is still used for animal fencing today. That, however, is where the similarity ends. Whilst modern chicken wire is made on heavy industrial machines by the kilometre our decorative brass chicken wire represents the oldest style of wire mesh available, made in the most traditional way possible, that being by hand. We take coils of brass wire ( and sometimes steel) and spend hours meticulously weaving and twisting it over a variety of specialist jigs to slowly create a variety of traditional patterns originally only seen in monasteries, castles and palaces. It is extremely labour intensive and so these days is only used for high profile applications such as historic library doors, which is one of the purposes for which it was originally intended. The relatively low opacity of this type of grille created by the size ratio between the narrow wire size and the large aperture size makes it perfect for library grilles as it allows that which is behind it (normally books) to be seen in their full glory whilst being protected from the fingers of those who might be inclined to relocate them. As such the library grilles in the twisted style of chicken wire serve dual purpose of protecting the books whilst allowing them to be seen and acting as a highly attractive feature of great provenance in themselves.

Chicken wire is a generic term used to describe a range of twisted wire meshes that often have hexagonal holes. The reason for it being called chicken wire is that its most common use is for chicken cages. The most common type of chicken wire which is used for agricultural uses is the machine made type which is usually made from steel wire which has been galvanised. The galvanising process prevents the steel from rusting in outdoor conditions by covering it in a layer of zinc which does not rust. The zinc coating is bright shiny silver in colour when the product is new and fades to a dull grey once weathered which will happen after weeks or years, depending on the conditions which the chicken wire is exposed to.

Chicken wire can also be used for purely decorative purposes. The most popular applications for this is in furniture such as French armoires, where it is most commonly used in panels in the doors, and kitchen units and traditional larders. In these cases the decorative chicken wire fills an aperture and provides a traditional looking grille that completes the door whilst letting what is behind it remain highly visible due to the inherent fine and open nature of the mesh.

When chicken wire is required for decorative purposes there are various different styles which can be chosen from depending on the, look and finish required and the budget available. The most basic type of decorative chicken wire is based on the machine made versions which are treated to achieve different appearances. This style comes in set widths with a border running along each edge. For most furniture focussed applications the 600mm wide variety is supplied often in a standard 2 metre long panel but larger panels are available at special request. The simplest finish applied to this type of mesh is a spray colour. All colours are available. More professional and realistic finishes are achieved through plating and chemical treatment. With these processes the meshes are coated with layers of actual metals like brass and nickel to give the appearance that the chicken wire is made of those metals. If a grille or mesh is plated in this way with a layer of metal then it will be very shiny to start with as the metal is effectively brand new. If the shiny look is desired then these finishes can be lacquered to keep them shiny and bright. But if it is desired that the panels should look older then the plated metal can be further treated to achieve aged and patinated effects that make them look antiqued or bronzed. These processes are often applied to grilles that are destined for furniture that is either antique or attempting to achieve an antique look.

At the top end of the decorative chicken wire style of grilles is the handmade version which is made in exactly the same way that it has been made for hundreds of years. It is available in a wider variety of styles than the machine made mesh. The handmade decorative chicken wire can be made with rows of elongated hexagons for greater decorative impact. There are a number of standard patterns available or if there is no limit to the budget then bespoke jigs can be made for new patterns which are then named after the project. The handmade decorative chicken wire grilles are hand twisted from solid metals. The most common metals from which these are made are brass and mild steel. The metal wire used for the handmade versions can be thicker. The solid brass wire versions appear as a matt gold colour when they are first made and this provides a perfect surface for patination to antique or bronzed or even verdigris finishes. The handmade steel version is twisted from a black mild steel and therefore has a dark grey/gun metal appearance. This can be further lightened or darkened to suit the requirements of the project.

It should be noted that due to the time consuming nature of the handmade version only a limited amount of it is made each year. It has to be made specially to order so is not available at short notice.

If an economical alternative is required at short notice then please enquire about our decoratively plated brass chicken wire.


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We guarantee that you will be more than happy with our decorative grilles and outstanding levels of customer service. If you have any queries, please get in touch.

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London’s Decorative Metalwork and Metal Grille Specialist

James Gilbert & Son specialises in high quality decorative metalwork. We are the world's oldest manufacturer of decorative metal grilles. Over the last 135 years we've produced architectural quality metal works for some of the biggest brands on the planet, yet we don't forget our roots nor our smaller customers.

We use manufacturing, polishing and patinating techniques that we have honed to perfection for over a century, alongside contemporary engineering technologies.

At the centre of our business are decorative grilles including hand woven-wire and regency grilles, decorative screens and panels with associated frames and decorative metalwork. These grace some of the finest hospitality and entertainment venues, public buildings and private residences the length and breadth of the U.K. and beyond.

We have expanded our core range to produce products which befit modern living; offering a greater range of materials, designs and finishes than ever before. This range includes floor grilles, air conditioning grilles, air vents, radiator covers, decorative screens, frames, inlays, endings, cladding materials, security products, shelving systems, furniture, fittings and much more.

We are always using our knowledge and experience to bring innovative products and metal processing techniques to the market and our 2016 range includes a whole portfolio of new materials designed to contrast and compliment our metalwork. The location of our central London works makes us ideally located for supplying high quality decorative metalwork at short notice to satisfy the fast paced requirements of London’s design and construction industries.

We provide a fully comprehensive decorative metalwork manufacturing service. Our brass, bronze and steel products including radiator and floor grilles, furniture, fixtures and fittings are dispatched all over the world. We work with architects, interior designers, construction contractors and fit out companies, product designers and private clients on contemporary and historic projects where a high standard and attention to detail are required. We are more than happy to instruct and advise your on site contractors to ensure fitted products are applied correctly. With our extensive experience of processing and chemically treating metals, all our decorative metal grilles and associated decorative metal products can be treated to make the finish match the style and era of the project. We also colour match existing finishes if samples of original pieces are supplied. We have fully equipped metal working facilities with both historic and state-of-the-art machinery, which means our skilled craftsmen can truly fulfil your decorative interior and architectural metalwork requirements.

Whether your project involves the restoration of a single item – such as the supply of a single radiator grille - or the complete refurbishment of a modern department store or chain of historic hotels, please send us details of the project now including measurements, photographs, architectural drawings, CAD files, pdf’s, sketches on envelopes, pipe cleaner models, vague notions and loose concepts are all accepted as starting points. The best results are achieved when we are included in the early stages of a project from where we are happy to advise and be on hand to help all the way through to completion. Let us initiate the discussion as to how we can help you now, and we look forward to working with you!

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Our Customer Promise

We guarantee that you will be more than happy with our decorative grilles. If you have any queries, please get in touch.