Tuesday, October 18, 2016

38th Annual Tri-State Iron Pour Molds and Castings

For the 38th Annual Tri-State Sculptors Conference Iron pour, I made 2 reaction molds in my shop to take to the pour. Normally a mold for iron-casting would be made of resin-bonded sand or ceramic shell, as traditional plaster and investment molds react poorly to the molten iron resulting in poor quality castings. Reaction molds, however, are specifically designed to react with the molten iron and create a brilliant display of sparks and flames. Usually constructed of wood elements, they can be incorporated with other mold methods such as resin-bonded sand to provide structure and strength to the mold, as wood behaves very differently when in contact with molten iron. It has instantly shrink, expand, crack, and break down in unexpected ways, resulting in a rupture of the mold that allows the metal to run out. If one can manage to construct a wooden mold in such a way as to withstand the heat of the iron long enough to allow it to begin to solidify and cool, some very interesting textures and effects can be created.

The Mold:

I constructed 2 wood molds, of which the main mold is shown above in 2 pieces prior to assembly. The double layers of plywood are staggered to prevent iron from leaking out of the mold as the wood burns and expands. After assembly all seams and joints were sealed with 3000 degree refractory cement for added security.


Once the molds were poured, the wooden forms burned away completely over the course of the next hour or so.

The Aftermath:


The Results:

The resulting main casting turned out fantastic, with an amazing texture and surface that I did not expect. It turned out far heavier than I anticipated, at least 80lbs, as once the wooden mold began to burn when in contact with the molten iron, the interior space increased and as a result, so did the overall mass.

The voice you can hear on the videos talking about iron casting and the process is that of James "Dudders" Dudley, a fellow artist, maker, and ECU alum. Thank you for the unintentional narration, sir. Check out an awesome podcast he is involved with along with a host of other highly talented and creative individuals, Damn Art Majors.

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