'All of that hell, fire and brimstone and skeletal imagery is still burned into my rusting psyche...'
As I got into the world of casting metal and iron, I could not help but notice the undying attention to skulls and skeletons and the hellish undercurrents that my fellow iron pourers can get deeply “into”. Having just returned from the Western Cast Iron Art Biennial Conference in Laramie, Wyoming, all of that hell, fire and brimstone and skeletal imagery is still burned into my rusting psyche.....and.....IT"S (All in Good) FUN!
Melting and pouring iron is a stunning way to get in touch with some primal parts of our beings and feel powerful and in awe at the same time. This is art where your life and your's and other's safety is on the line and when you come out the other end, there is a great sense of satisfaction that you have wrestled with the chthonic forces (look that up!).....and came out smelling like a rose...well...and some other strange smells, too. I am also impressed by the powerful women who work alongside us; carrying the ladles and pouring along with the best of us.
And the chance to learn some forging skills; hammering steel (not iron) into all kinds of shapes.......is another wonderful thing and a super 'deal'!
The other thing that I have noticed over the years of going to pours is that younger people and teenagers, who, I have noticed, are often in a sort of rebellious turmoil or are struggling with powerful forces that dip their toes into the bizarre, grotesque, angst and are sometimes lost and looking for some sources of power and pull.....they do really, really well and are "galvanized" and attracted and mesmerized by cast iron pours; they get into it in, what I think, is a good and healthy way and get lost in the trance of what is happening in front of them and, again, I think it is good therapy and to be encouraged for this age group. Young kids like it too; where they can scratch something into a little open faced mold and come up with something they made out of heavy metal. There is no substitute for "staring" into the face of molten metal as it is poured and starts cooling from deep read hot, pulsating and quivering heat into a dark very warm solid within a few minutes. How cool is that!
The other thing that is really great is that the mold making process is a chance to do all kinds of cross-meridian brain work as you are going from positive to negative, upside down, mirror writing and all kinds of opportunities to view what you are doing from a different perspective, which can be a great benefit to one's ability to perceive ideas and different views. the deal is; you have to do it in order to make these things and you pretty much have to visualize the fluid and other dynamics of pouring extremely hot metal into a vessel or mold and you need to think through what is going to happen in that process.
To top it off, the work that is being done to create your "art" is so physical and tangible and the effort is deeply involved in your muscles, your awareness of the things around you and the work that comes out of this process reeks of this deeply physical struggle (in a good sense) to create. I like the feeling and the look of a piece of iron or steel or bronze that passes this struggle to create along with it to the viewer and appreciator. Why not show the seams when you self-create this? A commercial foundry, for instance, might have some problems as they are so used to "chasing" the seamless creation and hiding some of the most interesting aspects of artwork from self involved metal pouring. ....something like that.....