Andres Institute of Art Iron Pour

26 October 2014


You missed a good time, but I know what you mean about long drives. This is one of two emails with photos from the Andres Institute of Art Iron Pour on October 26, 2014.  I'm including a few paragraphs to describe the iron pour below, in case you want to include that with the photos on the web.

This was a special event for the Andres Institute.  Their grounds are always open to the public, showcasing many sculptures in a natural
setting.  But on this Sunday, they invited the public to carve patterns into blocks of sand, fired up an iron melter, poured hot iron into
open-top molds, and let the visitors take home their creations.

The sand blocks used for carving were made from sand mixed with two-part resin, producing a coarse and rigid block of sand that was soft enough to carve, but stable enough that it wouldn't crush or deform with gentle pressure.  Carvers used simple pointed steel instruments to carve the pattern, then swept away loose sand with small brushes.  Once the pattern was done, they brushed the sand with a graphite and alcohol slurry.  This acted as a mold release agent and also helped keep sand
out of the iron.

The iron melter was first warmed up by a propane burner.  Once it stabilized and the artwork was ready, they added small chunks of coke to
the furnace and increased air flow to raise the temperature.  When the furnace was hot enough, small chunks of old home radiators were thrown into the furnace along with chips of limestone to serve as a flux.  Then more coke was added, then more iron, then more limestone.

They had four ladles ready for the pour.  These were kept hot on top of the furnace.  Their worst nightmare is pouring iron that was not hot
enough, and would solidify in the ladles, but today, this wasn't a problem.  The iron flowed nicely into the ladles and nicely out of the
ladles into the sand forms.  Molten iron still contained quite a bit of unburned coke, so the poured iron continued to burn for another 5
minutes after pouring.

After 30 minutes of cooling, the iron was dumped into a large bucket of water, then cleaned up with hand grinders and given to the smiling
artists.  While the iron was cooling, we took a leisurely stroll through the woods to look at the sculpture and enjoy the scenery.

Photos Credit Earle Rich and Bob Neidorff

Best wishes,
Bob Neidorff

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