Scottsdale Community College Iron Pour Is Hot

Written by Marilyn Hawkes Category: Visual Arts Issue: November 2015
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Iron pour at Scottsdale Community CollegeIf you’re interested in seeing a “visual spectacle,” attend Scottsdale Community College Sculpture Department’s “Annual Fall Iron Pour: KOJI XI.”

The iron pour, staged by SCC residential faculty member and sculptor Ted Uran, enables students to collaborate with Arizona State University art students and educators and sculptors who attend from across the country and beyond. In preparation for the event, Uran’s sculpture students prepare a wax casting to create a cast iron piece.

For the pour, Uran and company will stoke a cupola furnace using coke as fuel (similar to charcoal but burns hotter and cleaner than coal). Once the furnace is lit, air is forced in and the temperature goes from “uniform red hot to white hot and then it’s hot enough to melt iron,” Uran says. “We’re pouring it between 2,400 to 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit.”

The process sounds dangerous, but Uran says he goes to great lengths to make sure all safety precautions are taken and gives a safety briefing before each pour. “There are three things we stress at every pour: Nobody gets hurt; everybody’s piece gets poured; and we all have a good time doing it.”

Iron pourFor Uran, what separates this event from other metal casting events is the spirit of community. “It’s extremely labor intensive and there’s so much happening at the same time that it takes a large group of people to pull it off,” he says. “It’s different than completing your own sculptures in your studio because it forces everybody to work together.”

The public is invited to watch and there will be a limited number of scratch blocks available for attendees to make their own iron creations.

As for “KOJI” in the iron pour title - Koji is the best approximation for the word “pig” in the Pima language, according to Uran. “Cast iron has a close association with pigs (and) when the old foundry workers were smelting iron, there would be rows and rows of ingot molds lined up. As iron flowed through a system of runners, they likened the image of these bright orange glowing ingots to piglets suckling on a sow and the iron was dubbed 'pig iron,'” he says. “Because we reside on Pima land, I thought it would be an appropriate name for our iron pours.”

If you go:
When: 4-7 p.m. Saturday, November 14
Where: Scottsdale Community College, 9000 E. Chaparral Road. (Follow signs to park by Fitness Center)
Cost: Free to attend; $10 for scratch blocks; $15 for T-shirts designed by SCC graphic design students