Mesalands Community College hosted seven days of creation, destruction, preparation and, in the end, pouring hot cast iron into sculpture molds last week for its 16th annual Iron Pour event.
About 40 students and professional artists descended on Mesalands’ foundry building from all over the country. At least one was from Alaska. There was a father-and-son pair from Colorado Springs, Colo., a sculptor from Cincinnati, Ohio, and eight students and two instructors from Collins Community College in Plano, Texas, among the participants, as well as quite a few local students.
They got together to carve wax figures, place them into molds made of plaster-like material or sand, melt out the wax, and in the end, on Friday, to pour liquid iron at 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit into the molds. Each paid about $300 for the privilege.
When they weren’t carving and creating, participants spent time breaking up iron bathtubs, radiators and other donated iron items into pieces small enough to feed into the cupolas, the melting furnaces and tending to other chores.
On Friday, they fired up the cupolas, and the morning was filled with heating molds and stoking the furnaces with coal coke and hot iron. After a ceremony in later morning, the cupolas were tapped for batches of red-hot iron, and crews in heat-proof safety garb and face shields carried ladlefuls of liquid iron and poured it into molds to form the final sculptures.
On Saturday, the cooled sculptures were unveiled, or placed into cars for the trip home.
D’Jean Jawrunner, who came out of retirement to again preside over this week of creativity and action, said, “We had another great pour. We had so many new and old faces this year.”
Most important, she said, the week was safe, no injuries or damaging mishaps.
For Mesalands President Thomas Newsom, this year’s event was his first and he said he was impressed.
“This event draws people to the college from all over the nation,” Newsom told participants in the pre-pour ceremonies on Friday, and he asked the out-of-state participants, “Wherever you go, tell people about Mesalands, the faculty and the people you met here.”