The National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art and Practices showcases the skills and innovations of individual artists, groups, and industry professionals focusing on (but not limited to) the processes of cast iron as an artistic medium, both in traditional and non-traditional processes.
This year, we offer a broad range of ideas exchanged in demonstrations based on the conference theme: BEYOND THE PARTING LINE.
This Side Up: Crating and Why It Matters
Exhibit Fabricator and Project Associate at Boston Children’s Museum
In the whirlwind of creation, the eventuality of relocation is often overlooked. After countless hours, money, and general aggravation in the studio bringing a piece to life, the added headache of building a box to put it in can seem daunting. Sara provides some tried and true examples and solutions to crating artwork, including techniques to simplify shipping and receiving. Rest easy knowing that your baby is going to arrive in style and travel home safely.
Leathers, Costumes, and Armor: Protective Gear Modifications as Expression
Independent Artist/Minnesota Supercrew
Louie Darang and Erin Genereaux demonstrate different methods for personalizing one's appearance on the pour floor. Included are the basics of customizing protective gear, such as patches and markmaking, to more sophisticated physical modifications, and a discussion on practical alternatives to traditionally worn welding leathers. They discuss various ideas and traditions behind the ritualistic, performative, and theatrical elements of pour “armor” as well as more pragmatic reasons for highly individualized equipment.
Documenting Sculpture Outside the Photo Studio
Visiting Lecturer and Sculpture Facilities Coordinator at University of Notre Dame
Explore photographic techniques for documenting sculpture outside of a photography studio and on a budget. Learn how to construct and use an inexpensive, portable, battery-powered lighting kit. In addition to using strobe lighting, Robin shows how common and readily available materials can be used to create better images in the studio and in the field.
One and Done: Making a 1-shot 2-part Sand Mold
Lecturer of Sculpture and Director of Master Craftsman Program at Kennesaw State University
Many times in the process of creating a sand mold, the pattern is molded in multiple sessions. This allows for one section of the mold to set up before another part is rammed up. Due to time constraints or material concerns, this might not always be best practice. This is when making a complete parted mold in one session comes in very handy. Page shows a method that is almost exactly the same as any normal sand mold, except that every step is performed in one session before the resin sets.
VR (virtual reality) Sculpting for the RL (real life) Sculptor
Eric W. Stephenson
Sculptor/Owner at Lunarburn Studio LLC
Digital sculpture and 3D-printing are finally becoming available to sculptors! The possibilities seem endless until sitting at the computer with its monitor and mouse–a limited two dimensional interface at best. What if we could stick our heads inside monitors where we can see our digital sculptures in perspective and with depth of field? What if we could not only spin the object, but also walk around the space, seeing the true relationship between positive and negative space? Virtual Reality headsets, like the Oculus Rift, now provide that ability. With this technology, the act of creating with the computer has become playful, fun, and fast. Working within VR gives the sense of working in your traditional studio space. In this day long demonstration, Eric introduces some of the possibilities that VR sculpting can offer, as well as its integration with 3D scanning and 3D printing, and finally, into metal via casting. Experience his current workflow, bouncing back and forth from RL to VR and back to RL. Using two VR rigs, conference attendees can experience VR modeling themselves.
TIG Welding for Sculpture; Castings and Beyond
Curator of Educaton/Sculptor at South Bend Museum of Art
TIG welding techniques for casting and fabrication processes will be explored, including TIG brazed cast iron. Discover the specific complications of welding and brazing cast iron as a parent metal and how cast objects present challenges unrelated to standard welding and fabrication applications. Christyn demonstrates several TIG welding techniques with discussion of the situations sculptors are likely to encounter.
Swept in Loam: Traditional Bellmaking and Techniques for Patternless Molding
Benjamin A. Sunderlin
Owner/Bellfounder B.A. Sunderlin Bellfoundry
Loam molding, along with green sand and dry sand molding, was a staple in the foundry industry up to the mid 20th century. Working in swept loam remains an art of its own where the material is brought to a mud like consistency and used to incrementally build mold segments without conventional patterns and often with purpose built equipment. Benjamin details what loam is, how to work with it, and molds with the material specifically for sweeping. Special methods showcase the practice of traditional bell making, including English and Continental methods. Learn how these techniques may translate to other objects or articles for molding outside of bell making traditions.
Owner and Operator of KRLMetals and Co-Founder of Ironhead Sculptural Services, LLC
Kelly walks through his on-the-go foundry set up that allows him to work where there is no access to power or heavy machinery. He shows methods and techniques specifically geared towards artists looking to establish a DIY foundry.
The Lemonade Pour
Michael “Bones” Bonadio
Adjunct Professor, Foundry and Iron Casting/Manager of Operations Mass Art/Sincere Metal Works
Have you ever been to an iron pour and thought to yourself, “huh, I wonder why that happened?” You know that little cluster of folks huddled together on the sidelines, pointing and shaking their collective heads? What do they see? What would they be doing differently? What the hell are they pointing at??! The Lemonade Pour is your chance to get the inside scoop. Marjee, Bones, and the stellar crew assembled through an open call put their skills on display in this educational, interactive iron pour. See how they quickly learn to work together as a team, run an unfamiliar furnace, and pour molds of unknown origin. A special guest MC narrates the action, provides insight about what’s happening on the field, and helps the audience ask questions. Why are they making certain decisions? And how do those actions affect the furnace? The crew might have questions as well, so be ready to shout out some advice! The Lemonade Pour is all about good pouring practices, problem solving, and collaborative learning in real time. When life gives you lemons…pucker up and pour iron!
Spherical Mold Construction for Slush Casting
3D Fabrication Manager at Shepherd University
Kay works to minimize the detrimental impact creating has on the environment and uses material as efficiently as possible. Here, research is presented on a spherical mold technique that uses small amounts of sand in order to create large hollow pieces through a slush casting method. Kay discusses techniques to make a spherical mold out of wood or metal, the process to ram sand for different forms within the sphere, and the rolling methods used to have an even wall thickness at a large scale. Participants will be able to take away jigs, patterns and schematics so they may be able to make their own spherical molds.
What’s Cookin’? Iron and Glass in the Foundry Kitchen
Director of Glass at West Supply LLC
Explore the ways in which metal casters can dive into glass casting with the tools and equipment they may already have on hand. Using a mini melter furnace setup and an electric kiln, Ally showcases ladling glass into open-face moulds. Discussion points include casting results in various chemistry for single-use sand moulds, CNC capabilities for graphite and various metals for multiple-use moulds, and crucible selection for furnaces and kilns. Highlighted will be the use of iron oxides to color and add texture to glass. Kiln casting methods and mould materials for more dynamic forms will be touched on as well as annealing schedules for different types of glasses available.
Founding Director at Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museum
See techniques and cast results of directly carving into sand molds in a casual yet informative session. The demo starts in the workshop with sand molds in various stages of production, then concludes with a tour of Gerry’s sculptures on site to see finished results. This demo coincides with the artist’s workshop and Charles Hook Award lecture and exhibition.
Alginate Life Casting
Haley Hester and Jameson Evans
BFA Candidates at University of Alabama Birmingham
Haley and Jameson showcase technical methods for applying alginate to mold the human form for use in metal castings. From alginate patterns, plaster positives are molded in resin bonded sand.
Simple Torches for Furnace and Foundry Use
Metal Manipulator at Atlanta Metal Arts/Georgia State University
Observe a simple method for constructing blower type torches for use in the furnace and foundry with commonly available materials. These can be built with common shop tools and equipment to produce a satisfactory, serviceable, scalable torch for lighting off furnaces, warming ladles, and providing a heat source for other types of burner and furnace applications. Ed focuses on devices that are portable, economical, and easily operated and constructed in most studio settings.
These demos are presented together in a one hour session (20 min per artist):
Make it Shine: Metal Polishing
BFA Candidate at University of Alabama Birmingham
Using multiple iron and aluminum cast plates, Anthony demonstrates technique and results at various stages of the polishing process. He gives brief explanations of the mechanical process of polishing including material preparation, polishing process, and how to protect your polish for the long haul.
Gesso Patination with Ferric, Cupric, and Ammonium Chloride
MFA Candidate at University of Maryland
Learn about cold gesso applications and multiple patination chemicals with hot gesso application. Lauren achieves wonderful results that often keep people guessing about the materials and processes used for her creations. She presents a range of methods for creating different colorations for ferrics, cuprics, and ammonium chloride.
Using Wood Stain to Glaze Castings
BFA Candidate University of Southern Mississippi
Castings are hard, definitive, and absolute, so how does one soften the casting to tell a story or convey something greater beyond the form? Madeline demonstrates her approach to surface using paint and wood stains to layer color, adding and taking away with each layer, and establishing undertones. Prep, application, thinning effects, and brush techniques are shown that visually enhance her castings.
Fiber Lined Ladles: Lightweight and Hot
Lecturer of Art at University of Wisconsin
Associate Professor of Sculpture at Fort Hayes State University
Teresa and Toby present low-cost ladle liner methods using fiberfrax sheets dipped in colloidal silica and layered into a pre-made steel ladle shells. Each artist offers their variation on the technique, which is finished with a few layers of ceramic shell and fired. The ladles last several pours and are extremely lightweight, making this a great addition to the iron caster’s arsenal of knowledge. This method was originally conceived by Linda Walsh and published in the “Recipe Book for Cast Iron Artists” at the 4th ICCCIA at Johnson Atelier in 2002.
Waste Not, Want Not: Slagware Production
Evan Cyr & Brendan Moore
As a waste byproduct of metal refining and casting processes, slag has been utilized in glass production throughout history. It can be found in everything from ancient ceramic glazes and vessels to Victorian decorative objects and lampshades. Evan and Brendan will show a process of recycling slag into useable furnace glass with the express purpose of artistic and craft applications. A brief discussion of glass chemistry and refining will be followed by live production, including blowing slag vessels and press forming small objects.