When Iron Melts

The sun sets and the world slowly begins to dim from a golden light to blue, and finally to rich purples, greens, blues, and grays of night. But not for long; the students from the University of Colorado Denver’s (UCD) sculpture program and other area metalsmiths have their own idea of how to light up the night. Several times a year, they gather their iron, fire up their cupolas*, heat their crucibles**, and don their leathers*** to put on an iron pour.

“What is an iron pour?” you may ask. This is an event where UCD students and metalsmiths use the traditional techniques of heating iron to really high temperatures to pour it into molds. Traditionally these techniques were used any time iron needed to be poured into a mold to create a cast iron piece, functional or otherwise. At this event, the molds tend towards the more artistic. The students and metalsmiths will not only pour the iron into molds, but also create display pieces that light up the sky. (Explorer tip: for more scientific and specific terms and descriptions of the process, I encourage you to go to the event and talk to one of the metalsmiths working the event).

Image of the iron being poured from the cupola into the crucible
2015 fall iron pour at the Arvada Center

Out and About: The next Iron Pour is happening this Saturday October 8, 2016 from 6 pm through 9 pm at The Curtis Arts and Humanities Center in conjunction with their Fire + Iron = Art show. Please see the evensi listing for the event  for further details.

Your turn: At the event take time to wander through the art exhibition located at the Curtis Arts and Humanities Center in which all the pieces in this show incorporate iron or are inspired by iron in some way, and watch the iron pour take place at Curtis Park. If you have questions, feel free to ask an available metalsmith your questions. You’ll see them draw near the crowds when they have a moment of down time specifically to talk to you and answer questions.

If you would like to further your iron pour experience and take home your very own iron memento, carve your own sand tile. To do this you will buy a tile out of sand from the tent selling them and then carve a design into the sand. Once you carve a design into your sand tile it will become a mold in which iron will be poured. Once the iron cools, you will have a tile made out of iron for your very own. If you wish to carve a sand tile, please come early as they have a tendency to run out. Also, be sure to put your initials on it, as sometimes they may become mixed up once the iron is cooled, and you’ll want to be sure to take home your tile not someone-else’s.

Iron tile with a Claddagh symbol with crowned heart being held in two hands.
Cory’s finished tile from 2015

We here at Inquisitive Lantern would love to see your and your children’s projects. Please share them and your feedback at the end of this post. Please note though that Inquisitive Lantern will approve all posts for their family friendly content before they become public.

*Cupola= most simply the furnace that melts the iron. Wikipedia has more details https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cupola_furnace plus a great image of the cupola, the crucible, and the people wearing leathers.

**Crucibles= the pot or bucket in which the molten iron will be transported from the cupola to the mold.

***Leathers= leather clothes to protect from heat


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