Panels & Presentations

The National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art and Practices features presentations and panel discussions from all levels and disciplines, focusing on cast iron as a medium and/or process and its relationship to the field of art and art history. We welcome analysis of the medium beyond craft and the value of interpretation, expanding the field into history, archeology, scientific research, and other relevant fields.

Overview of Small Iron Foundry Furnace Construction and Operation

Rich Stewart

Independent Artist, San Diego, CA


An overview for those new to iron casting for the arts and any with experience wishing to obtain additional knowledge. The presentation covers basic furnace design principles, furnace tools design, furnace setup, furnace operation, and foundry safety.

Metal Coatings and Patinas

Kurt Dyrhaug

Professor of Sculpture, Lamar University, Beaumont, TX

Luke Sides

Collin College, McKinney, TX


This presentation will focus on epoxy and metal coatings for plastic, metal, and paper. Various techniques with traditional and non-traditional patinas will be addressed with products available from Sculpt Nouveau and XTC-3D.

African Iron Furnace - Revisited

Tony M Bingham

Instructor, Miles College, Birmingham, AL

Emily G Hanna, PhD

Senior Curator, Arts of African and the Americas, Birmingham Museum of Art

This panel will revisit our process of the making and firing of an African Iron Furnace. Originally presented during the 1999 Southern Iron Conference at Sloss, our panel examines the new research and investigations related to traditional and modern uses of this ancient technology, including visual examples of utilitarian and ritual objects made from smelted iron. Further discussions will explore the influences of African iron making on the early and contemporary African American iron working processes.

The Charles Hook Award Lectures

Gerry Masse

Founding Director, Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museum, Solsberry IN, 2017 Hook awardee

Ira Hill

Independent Artist, Birmingham, AL, 2015 Hook awardee

For enthusiasm and service to the conference, these artists were awarded the Charles Hook Award, named for the long-time sculpture professor at Florida State University. Come hear these two outstanding members of our community share their work, insights, and lifelong journeys as artists.  


Presenters show 20 slides with 20 seconds to speak per slide for a total of 6 minutes and 40 seconds per presentation. Presentations are from all levels and disciplines focusing on cast iron as a medium and/or process and its relationship to the field of art and art history. Presentations cover a wide range of potential topics, i.e., individual creative research, the research of another artist, a recent project, a new idea, an old idea, an innovation, etc.

Meteorites: Metal from Heaven for Ancient Egyptians

Caroline Covington

Asst. Professor, Pellissippi State Community College, Knoxville, TN

Why Iron?

Mary Ratcliff

MFA Candidate, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA

No Parting Line: Improving scratch block quality to

encourage community involvement

Caroline Covington

Asst. Professor, Pellissippi State Community College, Knoxville, TN

Eine Wunderbare Zeit in Deutschland: Atelierhaus Hilmsen 2018

Lauren Koch

MFA Candidate, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD

Bill's Lodestone

Carl Billingsley

Professor Emeritus, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

The Ring Toss

Tobias Flores

Associate Professor, Fort Hays State University, Hays, KS

The Harder Barter Market

Kristen Tordella-Williams

Assistant Professor, Millsaps College, Jackson, MS

Iron Age: Cast Iron Twist Balloon Weapons

Tasha Determan

BFA Candidate, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD

This presentation revolves around the artist’s research and exhibition of cast iron twist balloon weapons over the past year. The lecture includes the conceptual ideas within the series and the process of iron casting the balloons. There will be documentation and explanation of the process and the sculptures created. Initially, this research began with the artist’s involvement in the U. Discover Scholars Program through the University of South Dakota, which is a 10-week program over the summer. The Iron Age exhibition is a sculptural exhibition that represents the current indifference to war. This exhibition consists of past and current weapons associated with war, such as an airplane, combat aircraft, long-sword, pistol, rifle, longbow, saber, and atomic bomb. Twist balloons are twisted into such weapons and cast into iron with a bright, colorful patina. Through bonded sand molds and ceramic shell molds, the balloons are cast. The transformation of objects and the triviality of toys and war are the significance and representation in the exhibition. The exhibition will be displayed at the Coyote Twin Gallery in Vermillion, South Dakota in April 2019.

Tools and Techniques to Fight Shrinkage

Lucas Dix

Miller & Company, Birmingham, AL

Fundamental understanding of metal casting falls into two main categories. The first is the melting of metals, of which the cast iron art community truly has a good understanding. The second fundamental of metal casting is understanding how metals solidify. Understanding solidification is critical in achieving a sound casting without macro-defects (those that which physically affect the appearance and intended use of the piece). Metals shrink when they solidify. Shrinkage occurs because of the atoms going from a state of disorder (liquid) to a state of order (solid). Shrinkage can be minimized or even eliminated with the proper use of gating, risering, and implementing chills, all of which will be discussed in this presentation. A better understanding of how metals solidify and incorporating proper gating, risering, and chill techniques will help artisans produce their pieces without unintended defects that require repair or recasting.

Unexpected Surface Defects in Lost-PLA

Elizabeth Lopez

MFA candidate, Ontario College of Art & Design University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Exploring the use of 3D prints in combination with the ceramic shell metal casting process, as part of developing a body of creative work in her graduate studies. Last fall, while some casts came out very well, Elizabeth encountered significant unexpected surface effects in cast objects from 3D PLA prints that were not consistent with shell inclusion, venting, or miscasting, issues which are well documented in foundry literature and familiar to metal casters. After close examination of the marred surfaces, with consultations with teaching and support staff at the university foundry, she conducted some data analysis, looking for material and process differences among the several casts she had. This presentation shares the results of these analyses and early research, which point to a potential issue with the source 3D filament used in the prints interacting with ceramic slurry, and a suggested solution. The hope in sharing these findings is to draw out others’ experience, or continue further investigation as the use of digital prints in casting becomes more prevalent and the shift towards using vegetable-based PLA material continues.

Internships and Initiatives

Melanie VanHouten

Director, Josephine Sculpture Park, Frankfort, KY

Gerry Masse

Director, Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museum, Solsberry, IN

Virginia Elliott

Independent Artist, Cincinnati, OH

Jonathan Forrence

MFA candidate, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY

Daniel T. Beck

Iron Studio Coordinator, Penland School of Craft, Bakersville, NC


This panel features directors from three arts organizations and two past artist interns. The focus is to share insights into a variety of internship and workshop opportunities. Mel seeks to open conversation on ways to blaze a path in the “art world” by creating and following through on individual initiatives.

The Grind: Networking for Iron Casters


Check out this networking event for NCCCIAP participants featuring arts organizations and institutions offering MFA programs in sculpture and other sculpture opportunities. The Grind is a proven way to connect with programs!

Developing Safety Protocols, Policies, and Organization for Iron Programs

Jeremy Colbert

University of Kentucky, Lecturer of Art- Sculpture, Ceramics, and Foundations, Lexington, KY

James Wade

Hammermark Studios, Lexington, KY

In a time requiring careful management of liability and safety issues in academia, processes with a greater potential for danger, such as sculptural practices, need certain guidelines in place to ensure institution, program, and student well being. This is especially true for studio iron casting, which has the potential for minor burns, cuts, accidents, and other injuries during educational instruction and production activities. Jeremy and Jim lead a discussion on their solutions at the University of Kentucky in collaboration with Environmental Health and Safety, University Legal, and the School of Visual Art and Studies.

Creating Spectacle (and Danger) with Iron

Rich Stewart

Independent Artist, San Diego, CA

Coral Lambert

Professor of Sculpture

Director of the National Casting Center Foundry, Alfred University, Alfred, NY

Andrew Marsh

Independent Artist, Lucky 7 Arts, LLC at BLDG 15 Studios, Louisville, KY

Chair, 2019 NCCCIAP

Christopher Meyer

Associate Professor of Sculpture. University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD

Phen John Edwards

Master Carver at Swanson Stone Sculpture, Sedalia, CO

Bret Daniels

A Rooster is a Cock Arts, Milwaukee, WI


Some iron casting artists use molten iron and foundry practice to execute performance art in addition to more traditional (room temperature) works. Performance art pieces can send 2,800 degree F molten iron skyward, while others flow the liquid metal in a more controlled fashion. In any case, artists seek to engage their viewers in a moment of action. This panel explores the influences, motivations, and objectives of these cast iron performance artists. Each panel member presents a 3-minute introductory talk with select images of their work. The panel will discuss topics and take questions, including: What does each artist seek to express via iron performance art? Whom are your key influences? Is the object still important? How does your performance art inform your sculpture, and/or how does your sculpture inform your performances?

An introduction into the roots of FE performance in the American cast iron art movement will be provided by George Beasley.

Pedagogies of Inclusivity: Iron is for Every Body

Allison Baker

Assistant Professor of Sculpture, Hamline University, St. Paul, MN

Ronda Wright

Assistant Director of Intercultural Affairs, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC

Founder, Social Action For Equality (SAFE)
Kay Dartt

3D Fabrication Manager - Dept. of Contemporary Art and Theater, Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, WV

Erin Tucker

3D Area Technician, University of Tennessee Knoxville, Knoxville, TN

Holly Kelly

Graduate Student, University of Tennessee Knoxville, Knoxville, TN

Louie Darang

Independent Artist/ Iron Daddy, Minneapolis, MN


Iron is for every body. How can metal casters help foster diversity, equity, and inclusion in iron? The panelists offer practical solutions and tactics toward creating a sustainable and equitable climate that reflects a commitment to inclusion in our classrooms and at our pours for expanding our community and practice. Discussion covers the practical needs of providing adequate safety gear to marginalized peoples, how to dismantle physical and institutional structures that exclude, valuing cooperation over feats of strength, fostering aesthetics and pour rituals that reflect an ethos of inclusion, and creating a culture of inclusivity that accommodates all people with a special attention to the needs of historically underrepresented folks. The panelists range from casters heavily entrenched in the community for decades and the future leaders of cast iron. Together, they seek to promote diversity and inclusion to foster iron for years to come.

Iron Wedding: Orchestrating a Collaborative Performance

D. Lance Vickery

Assistant Professor of Sculpture, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL

Jenny K. Hager

 Professor of Sculpture, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL

Allen Peterson

Independent Artist, Atlanta, GA

Nik & Nicole James

University of North Florida alumni, Jacksonville, FL

Mary Ratcliff

MFA Sculpture Candidate, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA

Jenn Peek

Student, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL


This panel discusses the “Iron Wedding Project,” which was performed in Scranton, PA, at the Spring 2018 ICCCIAP. Iron Wedding was designed as a collaborative and multidisciplinary performance in which two artists/iron casters (UNF Alum Nik and Nicole James) were united in a marriage ceremony made of iron. The Victorian inspired imagery and multi-cultural sourced performance was a celebration of iron, music, printmaking, fire, and love in a three-part performance including the wedding procession, the ring ceremony, and the recessional. The performance combined elements of theater site-specific installation and set design including backdrops and props with a printed surface, leather costumes with screen-print, and printing with fire. Iron Wedding also featured a wedding cake cupola (furnace) design, original music and score played by non-traditional musical instruments, and innovative mold making.

I’m Pouring Iron in Europe!

Kurt Dyrhaug

Professor of Sculpture, Lamar University, Beaumont, TX

Hans Molzberger

Houston Baptist University & Atilierhaus Hilmsen Residency, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany

Matthew Eaton

Assistant Professor, Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, NM

Why do we have the desire to pour iron in Europe? It’s expensive! What makes it worthwhile? This panel will focus on cast iron opportunities overseas. Panelists will discuss who, what, where, and why it will change your perspective on traveling overseas.

The Lemonade Pour - Debriefed

Michael “Bones” Bonadio

Independent Artist, Newton, MA

Marjee Levine

Adjunct Professor, Massachusetts College of Art & Design

Manager of Operations, Sincere Metal Works, Everett, MA


After pour discussion of the interactive, educational iron pour demonstration. How did it go?! The Lemonade Pour utilizes best practices and problem solving in real time for furnace operation, pouring techniques with various types of molds, and crew interaction. This panel discussion immediately follows the demo on the pour floor with Marjee and Bones where crew and audience can analyze the pour, discuss successful solutions and alternatives, and answer technical questions to further inform and expand understanding of the casting process.

ARTIST = TEACHER = ARTIST: Staying Relevant in Art While Crushing it in Academia

Jen Torres

Sculpture Professor and 3D Area Head, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS

Jenny K. Hager

Professor of Sculpture, University of North Florida

Kurt Dyrhaug 

Professor of Sculpture, Lamar University

During times where lines are blurred, funding is low, and when the voice of the artist has never been more important, this presentation examines the ideas of surviving in academia, keeping your voice, and building a network for survival, particularly for those interested in a full-time academic position, either in tenure track or research positions or stitched-together multiple adjunct gigs. Why is it important to build a unique studio practice and stay active in your work? What are the types of positions that require this in order to keep your job? What are some of the difficulties in maintaining a relevant studio practice? What are the benefits? Why does it not work for everyone? These are some of the themes that will be discussed as well as balancing work, play, health, and family. Jen draws from her experiences as a full-time tenured faculty member and as a mentor for junior faculty at the University of Southern Mississippi and lays out possible routes for success. Jenny K. Hager-Vickery and Kurt Dryhaug will also share their experiences and words of wisdom.

MFA Portfolio Reviews

Are you currently an undergraduate student? Have you been out of school but are considering a return to the hallowed halls? Get a leg up with feedback from current professors in Fine Arts programs from around the country. Take the opportunity to learn about MFA programs that offer cast iron and casting intensive courses. These one-on-one and small group critiques are targeted to make your portfolio stronger. Please bring 5-20 images (can be digital) and/or a resume to share. Professional image quality encouraged, but not required.

Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron

Danielle Rosen

Independent Artist, Chicago, IL

Laura Prieto-Velasco

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Designed Objects at School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Owner / Designer of HVNTER GVTHERER, Chicago, IL

Phoenix Savage

Assistant Professor of Art, Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, MS and Assistant

Professor of Art, Brown University, Providence, RI

Gillion Carrara

Adjunct Professor of Art History, Theory, and Criticism

Founding Director of the Fashion Resource Center at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Metalsmith, Chicago, IL

Kristen Tordella-Williams

Assistant Professor of Studio Art, Millsaps College, Jackson, MS

Cassie Kise

Fabrication Studio Manager, California College of the Arts

Foundry Faculty, The Crucible, Oakland, CA

Feral Fagiola

MFA Candidate, Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier, VT

 Independent Artist, BLDG 15 Studios, Louisville, KY


“Like a velvet glove cast in iron” [1] explores the intersection of cast iron and fashion as sites of becoming. Together, panelists discuss the ways in which metal casting can be viewed as a transformative haptic process through which femme people may fashion new worlds to inhabit and/or construct visions of futurity. Using the sociological text, “Molds and Totems: Nonhumans and the Constitution of the Social Self” [2] as an organizing model, panelists engage in a discussion of their creative work and debate how they conceive of objects as social agents that may or may not shape concepts of personal identity and social belonging. Together, panelists explore the transformational process of casting in poetic, political, and technical terms [3]. “Like a velvet glove cast in iron” examines the larger intersectional [4] implications of cast iron as a material to fashion social interactions and engage in world-building during a time of deep rupture(s).

[1] Meyer, Russ, director. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Eve Productions, 1965.

[2] Molds and Totems: Nonhumans and the Constitution of the Social Self. Sociological Theory, by Colin Jerolmack and Iddo Tavory, 1st ed., vol. 32, American Sociological Association, 2014, pp. 64–77.

[3] Terms: Fashion, Carbon, Evolution, Becoming, Liminality, Multiplicity, Mistakes, Reproduction, Molting, World-Building, Identity, Sociality, Agency, Nonhuman, Seams, Parting Line, Mold Making, Flashing, Carbon Content, Refining Cast Iron

[4] Crenshaw, Kimberlé. Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Black Feminist Critique of

Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1989.

Warmest Regards: Behind the Book

Marjee Levine

Adjunct Professor, Massachusetts College of Art & Design

Manager of Operations, Sincere Metal Works, Everett, MA

Stacey Holloway

Assistant Professor of Sculpture, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL

George Beasley

Professor Emeritus, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA

David Lobdell

Professor of Fine Art, Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts, New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas, NM

Mary Neubauer

President's Professor-Sculpture, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ

Carolyn Ottmers

Independent Artist, Former Director of The World Famous SAIC Foundry

The Reverend Doctor Kenneth Payne

Professor / Head of Sculpture, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY


There is little written about the brief history of iron casting in the art world. Most of our stories exist as oral traditions, passed down like folklore from teacher to student, through conferences, symposia, and residencies. The original iron pioneers have begun to retire and travel less, which leaves the next generation of casters to ensure this knowledge is not lost. Stacey Holloway, Wayne Potratz, and Marjee Levine created "Warmest Regards," a book comprised of letters written by the 'founding fathers and mothers' and/or 'significant contributors to the field' to a 'fictional young caster.' These include particular opinions, words of wisdom, technical advice, inspirations, experimentation, and anything that they felt might enrich a young caster’s development.

International Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art

Coral Lambert

Professor of Sculpture

Director of the National Casting Center Foundry, Alfred University, Alfred, NY

Katie Hovencamp

Adjunct Professor of Art, Keystone College, La Plume, PA

8th ICCCIA Co-Chair


The panelists present an overview about the history of the International Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art from its beginnings at Sloss Furnaces in 1986 through to Johnson Atelier in New Jersey, The World Heritage Site of Coalbrookdale and Ironbridge in England, to Kidwelly in Wales and Pedvale Sculpture Park in Lativa. The panel rounds out with a pictorial review celebrating and reflecting on the most recent ICCCIA in Scranton. Each conference has bought with it its own flavor and themes of distinction. This panel includes time for brief proposals to be heard on the 2022 site followed by a focused discussion and introduction to the upcoming timeline for the next exciting conference.


Sloss Furnaces 

20 32nd St N

Birmingham, AL 35222

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