Iron Show at Liberty Arts

Tomorrow, Friday, May 18th, as part of the Third Friday Durham Art Walk, Liberty Arts non-profit artist collaborative will be hosting a show of Iron works at their new location in the Golden Belt district, at Cordoba Center for the Arts, #923 Franklin Street in Durham.


Scraps of melting cast iron
photo credit Caperton Morton Andersson

Many of the works that will be exhibited and for sale were produced at a fantastic iron pour held earlier this month in Moncure, NC. The iron pour was a spectacular, dramatic scene, May 5th at the Moncure Museum of Art. Don’t be fooled by the high falutin name. This was serious work.

Liberty Arts, a socially conscious, ethically focused, non-profit, collected old scrap cast iron that might have been otherwise discarded to melt down for this pour; old boilers, bathtubs, sinks, radiators and more were transported to Moncure, just south of Pittsboro. Then the real fun began… Because before this scrap iron could be turned into molten metal, it had to be smashed (literally, with sledgehammers) into approximately one inch by one inch pieces. Fun, fun, fun turning scrap to smithereens.

From there, these tiny pieces were loaded into what looked like a thick walled oil drum, technically a Bessamer furnace, and heated to a molten 3000o. It is a methodical and precise process, a ratio of 35 lbs. of metal to 6 lbs. of coke/black coal has to be maintained throughout. When the mixture is ready, a stopper at the bottom of the furnace, called a “butt” is removed and the metal pours out. The “butt,” itself, despite the bemusing name, is a highly technical device made out of clay, sand, sawdust and water. This conical shape plug is holding back super hot liquid metal under pressure.


Butt removed
photo credit Caperton Morton Andersson

The pour itself is a multiple person job. Two kneeling iron casters poke a hole in the butt as a third person, “the butter” stands at the ready with a new butt, prepared to reblock the spout at a moment’s notice. Super intense heat sweeps across the room, even beneath goggles one imagines one’s eyelashes melting, one’s eyebrows being singed off the forehead. The molten iron pours into a crucible, fifty pounds at time, two workers muscle it across the room and begin to pour it into molds. Another iron caster, scrapes the floating detritus like enamel and other waste products from the molds.

As Liberty Arts own Jackie MacLeod puts it, “It is a well-choreographed and supremely serious ballet.”


A serious ballet
photo credit Caperton Morton Andersson

The results are amazing. Come see for yourself this Friday at Liberty Arts main facility, #923 Franklin Street, Durham in the Cordoba Center of the Arts. You won’t be disappointed. You will be able to take a bit of repurposed metal, crafted into a unique piece of art home with you.

Artists’ works featured include Tim Werrell, Leah Waller-Foushee, Mike Waller, Robin Holmes, Tripp Jarvis, Elijah Leed, GeorgeAnn Greth, Mike Lupa and more.


Majestic results
photo credit Caperton Morton Andersson

Aaron Mandel

Aaron Mandel is a writer and an accomplished public speaker. He is the publisher of the Clarion Content. For more than a decade, the Clarion Content has covered Durham’s arts, politics, music, and cultural milieu. From breaking news stories to the hottest local acts, the Clarion Content is on the scene. The Clarion Content published more than twenty distinguished guest columnists and garnered nearly a million views. Mandel is a volunteer for the Durham Mighty Pen Literacy Project and serves as the President of the Board of Sustain-A-Bull Durham, a local small business collective with more than 200 members. He writes regularly on the Clarion Content and has been quietly writing fiction since the 4th grade. Mandel has been published in the Raleigh News and Observer. He has also produced numerous art shows, including, “Durham under Development”. He was a featured speaker at “The State of Publishing” conference. He has presented to Durham Chamber of Commerce, “Chamber U” on the “New Media”. He has also served as the play-by-play announcer for the D.B.L., a Durham youth basketball league. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Religious Studies from Indiana University in Bloomington. An avid policy debater at Indiana and a Nation Debate Tournament qualifier, Mandel was also a member of the New Jersey State Champion two-person Policy Debate Team. He has lived in North Carolina, New Jersey, California, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Indiana, and Baja California, Mexico.

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