LOOK around your house. Metal is omnipresent.You’ll find it on door handles, lamps and light posts.You might have metal furniture, candelabras, chandeliersor balconies.And, this being Costa Rica, you likely have securitybars on your doors and windows.Iron is the metal of choice for decoration in CostaRica, according to the experts. It offers a durability anddependability that other metals don’t have.Look for the terms industrial (industrial-strength) orforjado (forged) to guarantee that durability,says María Félix Molina of Laccaferroin La Uruca, in the northwest district ofSan José, which specializes in decorativeiron products for the home.MOST of the iron products sold herethese days are rust-proofed, explainsGuillermo León of Herrera Mapache inGuachipelín, one of the private vendorsrepresented at the massive but user-friendlyConstruplaza complex on the highwayto Santa Ana, west of San José.Protective, non-corrosive paint is key to guardingagainst rust in Costa Rica’s humid climate. Leónexplains that the degree of protection he applies dependson where the client expects to use the product.More of a shield against oxidation in the rainyCentral Valley is needed than the same piece wouldrequire in dry northwest Guanacaste.Molina suggests keeping ironwork in a dry part ofthe house if possible. But there’s one simple point thatowners often ignore, she says.“Don’t bang it. Don’t chip the paint,” she cautions.Any permeation of the protective barrier is a rust problemwaiting to happen.RANDALL Rodríguez, who creates decorative ironworks as a side from the family blacksmith business,says that iron has increased in price here about 200 percentsince December. Worldwide demand, much of itfrom Japan, has fueled the price rise.Rodríguez, whose shop is located in Belén on theroad to Alajuela, has taken to stopping alongside theroad if he sees a piece of scrap metal there. But a sourceof heat, hammer and metal-cutting scissors in his handscan turn that roadside discard into an intricate, originalpiece of art.Laccaferro and Mapache have a goodmix of ready-made items, with furniture,candelabras, chandeliers and balcony railingsamong the product mix. Prices varywith the complexity of the design, Molinasays.Both can custom design any productas well.As an independent blacksmith,Rodríguez deals only in custom-madeitems, but the sky’s the proverbial limit.Decorative wall hangings and centerpieces,furniture and elaborate iron gardens are a few ofthe works he’s made for satisfied clients, includingmany in the expatriate community, around the CentralValley.Rodríguez can also add ornate touches to securitybars, that most utilitarian, but necessary, use of ironfound here.For more info, contact Laccaferro at 223-6116 orHerrera Mapache at 215-1112. Randall Rodríguez can becontacted at 443-2746.