Collaborative art at Franconia hot metal pour

Scrap iron is heated to 2,500 F.
Scrap iron is heated to 2,500 F.

For the 17th year, on Saturday, Aug. 3, iron artists at Franconia Sculpture Park will host the popular hot metal pour.

From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., visitors can revel in the heat and see the molding of cast metal to create iron sculptures.

Professional sculptors will be led by artists Tamsie Ringler, professor at St. Catherine University, and Kristy Summers, professor at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. There will be 11 iron artists and four interns.

The process begins with recycled iron being melted in a cupolette (furnace) to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The glowing liquid metal flows into a 150-pound ladle to be poured into sculpture molds.

Guests who want the extra thrill of creating their own sculpture can buy a flat, open-faced mold made of hardened sand. The molds cost $25, $40 or $75, depending on size.

After the sand is etched to create a unique design, it is filled with molten iron. Once cooled and unmolded, the finished project will be a tile-like sculpture ready to be exhibited.

Molten iron is poured into molds.
Molten iron is poured into molds.

To help people learn the process, the sculpture park will hold four free mold-making workshops, on July 27 and 28 from 1 to 4 p.m. and on July 31 and Aug. 1 from 4 to 8 p.m. To purchase a flat mold and register for a workshop, call 651-257-6668 or e-mail [email protected]

It is also possible to buy a mold early in the morning on the day of the event.

To add to the festivities on Aug. 3, performances by the contemporary ‘found object’ percussion band, Savage Aural Hotbed, will be running at 12:30, 2:30 and 4 p.m. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Artistic Director John Hock describes this event as a terrific opportunity for both the community and the artists involved. In past years hundreds of visitors have attended.

Franconia Sculpture Park is an organization that provides opportunity for emerging and established artists. The collection of 75 contemporary sculptures by local, national, and international artists is free and open to the public 365 days a year. The park is located at 29836 St. Croix Trail in Franconia.

The hot metal pour is made possible, in part, by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the East Central Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.