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The Great Iron Pour | Media Release for Iron Pour on March 17, 2018

March 14, 2018

Official Iron Pour: March 17, 2018 (dusk) Through hands-on immersion into historic techniques and processes, study of metallurgy, chemistry, materials science and industry, as well as working with professional sculptors, The Great Iron Pour, a high school seminar at The Colorado Springs School is asking the essential question, “Can we come to a clear understanding of the enormous significance of the age of metals while developing a personal aesthetic relationship with cast iron as an artistic medium?”

The Colorado Springs School (CSS) is the only high school in the country to host an Iron Pour. Students have broken nearly 1,000 pounds of iron into shards for the pour. On the evening of Saturday, March 17, 2018, in the courtyard of the Carriage House art studios at 21 Broadmoor Avenue, CSS students will host the Great Iron Pour through the Experience Centered Seminar program, a hallmark of intensive and hands-on study. The iron pour will occur as a pinnacle experience of a student seminar led by Art Department Chair, Mr. Hans Wolfe and assisted by Science teacher, Ms. Adele DuBay and retired Science teacher, Mr. Sam Johnson. During this three-week course of study, students are meeting with industry experts, creating wax and sand molds, assembling a cupola, breaking iron and bonding coke, welding, and working intensely to discover the science and art of an iron pour.

The schedule of events for the pour (weather and variables permitting):

  • Saturday morning students will be completing final set up for the pour area. They will be attending to last minute details, conducting dry run-throughs and having final safety training.
  • The furnace will be fired up and burning during this time to get up to heat, which means flame throwers will come on around noon.
  • After lunch, various lost wax molds are checked and patched as students heat and start to bury ceramic shell molds. Students are dressed in full safety gear.
  • Guests, alumni, members of the media are invited to come out and carve an opened-face bonded sand mold prior to the pour. This relief piece of art will be a treasured keepsake from the experience.
  • The cupola will be brought up to melting temperature between 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. and the first charges of iron are thrown in. Metal will start flowing shortly after that and the dance of pouring everything commences.
  • As sunset (7:08 p.m.) approaches the last of the artworks will be poured. The cupola is tapped for the last iron and the bottom dropped in a fireball of glory. The final ladle of metal is then poured into a crowd-pleasing pyrotechnic display.

Fun facts regarding the Iron Pour:

  • 1,000 lbs of iron will be broken down for the pour. The scrap iron has been procured from the school’s historic Trianon building. In 2015, the 110-year old boiler was replaced but the scrap iron was retained for future iron pours. 
  • 200 lbs of coke (95% carbon) will be used to fuel the fire.
  • The cupola will be heated to approximately 3,000 degrees. The cupola is lined with 1,000 lbs of borosilicate refractory clay.
  • Tons of sand is being used in multiple grades.
  • Students are using a lost wax process dating back to 2000 B.C. to create molds for their iron sculptures. A more modern space-age technique of dipping the molds in a slurry and covering them with a stucco process is also being used.
  • Faculty member, Mr. Hans Wolfe is a member of the International Contemporary Iron Art (ICIA) steering committee. THE ICIA will host its annual conference in Scranton, Pennsylvania this June.
  • The Colorado Springs School is the only high school in the country to conduct an Iron Pour.
  • Check out 2018 students blogs on the Iron Pour at www.css.org/ecsblogs
  • The school has conducted 7 iron pours since 1994. This seminar is offered on a multi-year rotation. The last course happened in 2014.

Special thank yous:

  • G.E. Jonhson has generously loaned specific equipment to the project over the years and this year loaned the school a commercial grade bander.
  • Culver’s at Lake Plaza donated 25 milkshakes to the students. It is believed among welders and boilermakers that milkshakes provide vital nutrients and restorative qualities for those working with heavy metals and high temperatures. If nothing else, they will be refreshing to the team of students and faculty.
  • Assisting with the Great Iron Pour is alumna, Jodie Bliss ‘03 of Bliss Studios and Gallery in Monument, Colorado is a practicing artist blacksmith, metal fabricator, and glass blower. Additionally, iron-veteran hailing from the midwest, sculptor, and welder, Sarah Harling will assist with the pour.

About the Iron Pour ECS
The Iron Pour ECS is a hands-on immersion into the world of making and pouring molten metal to create art. The course involves a historic study of the discovery and use of metals, the industry of iron and steel making, the chemistry of metals and refractory materials, and sculpting in wax, clay, and other mediums. Student art is informed by exposure to galleries, museums, and by visiting artists. Iron casting is physically demanding, and teamwork is important as the whole class moves together toward the goal of
melting iron and pouring it into molds to make art. This course also includes the pouring of aluminum and bronze, and students learn basic steel forging and welding.

About Experience Centered Seminars
Experience Centered Seminars (ECS’s) are an integral part of the Upper School program and give our students the skills necessary to conduct large-scale investigations in college and beyond. Each March, our students participate in a three- to four-week-long study that immerses them in academic subjects through a hands-on, interdisciplinary approach. ECS’s approach broad, interdisciplinary questions to optimize the teaching of critical thinking, organized inquiry, in-depth analysis, and synthesis of information. They demand direct active participation and primary research in an environment outside of the classroom. Academic requirements include oral and written presentations, term papers, group work, and projects, or final exams. The ECS experience sets our students apart as they move into the collegiate world and beyond.

Students are blogging about this year’s seminars, including:

About The Colorado Springs School (CSS)
The Colorado Springs School is a college preparatory, day and international school serving students from preschool through high school. Through superior academics and mentoring, The Colorado Springs School prepares students to think independently and to meet the needs of a dynamic world with leadership, ingenuity, problem-solving skills, and personal integrity.

Media are welcome to attend. For more information about Experience Centered Seminars or the Great Iron Pour, please contact Jessica L. James, Director of Communications and Advancement, at jjames@css.org or by cell at (719) 210-3499.

 
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