In today’s day and age, with the ability to get anything at the click of a button or a drive to the store, we are less aware of where our possessions come from and how they come into being. One process often used in production is the casting of objects from molds. Franconia Sculpture Park’s twice-yearly iron pour gives the public a unique view into this age old technique, most often conducted in foundries. Here at the park we bring the process outside for all to witness.
Visitors see the glowing orange of the molten iron that is nearly impossible to capture in photos and then how it dries through a mirage of colors; the way that the furnace looks like a giant sparkler as the night’s darkening sky appears. They bear witness to groups of people dressed like firefighters, each responsible for their own task in the assembly-like operation. Moving in unison like they are performing an elegant dance, these individuals work as a community, trusting in one another’s skills, as they withstand thousand degree temperatures in order to complete their task.
As an organization, Franconia specifically aims for visitors to participate in the creative process, not just see it from afar. Many of the molds poured on the day of the event have been created by visitors to the Park. This binds each individual to the community of makers which is a powerful and unique experience. This sense of unity and connection is a less tangent, but equally beautiful result of any iron pour in addition to the work made.
During the two weekends before this year’s upcoming Valentine’s Day Iron Pour, Franconia offered four workshops in which participants could create a scratch block mold. This is a block made from sand and resin that can be carved into to create a relief sculpture. The process, adaptable to all ages, is simple enough for a young child to engage in while at the same time allows for endless challenges to be experienced in the creation of sophisticated and developed pieces of art. All types of instruments are used in carving the scratch blocks, from
traditional hand tools such as drills and chisels, to more obscure objects such as utensils and dental tools. If you’ve never made a scratch block before it is hard to
imagine the feeling of carving sand. Moving the material is more difficult than imagined, an
opinion many visitors shared with me throughout the past couple of weeks. The response to this year’s workshops was incredible with all spots selling out and over one hundred molds being made. Thanks to everyone who came out to help build our community here at Franconia.
Offering workshops is just one way that the
Park aims to engage viewers during the iron pours; during each event the Park has additional programming and activities on the grounds throughout the day. We are looking forward to our upcoming Pour scheduled for Saturday, February 11, 2017 from 12pm – 5pm and are excited to welcome Nordic Waffles out of Minneapolis, these yummy treats are worth every penny. There will be two free, guided tours of the park offered at 1pm and 3pm as well as a bonfire that will be burning throughout the event.
As the saying goes, “fire and ice is always nice”, so don’t let the cold stop you from coming out to enjoy all the fun this Valentine’s Day Weekend! I am personally looking forward to becoming part of the community that forms with this Pour and hope that you too will come, experience this special event, and feel the unique sense of togetherness and creativity that results; it will be a day you will never forget!
This activity 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. Thank you !