This was an awesome week! I’m so excited to share with you what the Meltzone Workshop also known as the International Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art (ICCCIA), worked on this week. After the mold was made last week, the mentor and the mentee pairs loaded the trucks to head down to Scranton Iron Furnaces downtown, where I have never been before. I would definitely encourage you to stop by if you haven’t. It is a very historical landmark and some locals even decide to get married there.
When we arrived to the Scranton Iron Furnaces we put on our leather aprons and began to break metal, which was mostly old pipes and heavy unused weights. Then we had to load buckets and weigh them 50 pounds each. This was a new experience for me and I know now how demanding it is to break iron because my body was sore the next day! We had to prepare a furnace with a layer of sand at the bottom, then gradually fill the rest of the furnace with coal. An addition to pouring sand in the furnace, we also had to place a layer of sand on the grass. Then we placed our mold on it. The sand acts as a layer of protection for the grass preventing it from catching on fire. Once that was completed then the real magic happened!
We began to load the furnace with the broken metal. The first batch is always the longest to melt. Therefore, it takes about a half an hour to begin and then we proceed with our first tap which means opening up the furnace spout and allowing iron to pour out. Once the iron is poured out it takes about another 15 minutes to reload the furnace with coal and metal and tap again. We work together in groups of two to lift a ladle and pour iron into our mode. During the times when we alternate people a news reporter asked to do an interview with me. He was there to capture every moment and wanted to interview a student that was participating in the conferences. Here is the link to check it out. Once we finished filling our molds with iron we waited 24 hours for the metal to cool down before we can open up our molds. That is the most exciting part, seeing how our molds have cast. Then it’s time to clean it up, which is a long and redundant process.
The final part of our conference was going to a few seminars of our choice and learning different ways that would could work with iron after the conference. This was also a time to network with people from all over. The last few days were open to the public, who were able to participate in a few workshops and witness a few attractions such as hungry hippos with steaming hot iron balls, a dragon head with iron pouring out of his mouth. Last but not least we witnessed a wedding.