Last Week of Class

Sorry for not posting yesterday. I was being bad. But onward with the stuff that happened during my last week of class.

Three weeks have really flown by. I didn’t expect at 5 hour a day, 4 days a week was going to go by so quickly. Monday I packed the second half of my shoe piece mold so that all we had to do Tuesday was crack it open and drill a hole for the metal to get poured into (the sprue), and vents, which push the air out of the mold and let the metal pour all the way. I also came up with an idea for my plasticine, low relief mold.

We also got to see our bronze pieces for the first time. Now remember we were not able to break those open when class ended last week because they were still too hot to touch. Two of my skirts came out amazing. The last one, did not pour all the way, so I ended up melting it back down on Thursday when we did the bronze pour. Our teacher demoed different ways to remove the sprues and vents from our pieces with a hand held hacksaw or a grinder. He also showed us how to polish and chase our pieces so they look completely finished. After I completed packing my molds, and after the demos, I left class a bit early. Now it was for my dad’s birthday so I wasn’t ditching class for some stupid reason.

On Tuesday, we broke open the two halves of my shoe piece mold and took out the shoe.The mold came out great! We added a sprue and two vents using a drill. I then took mold wash, which is a mixture of graphite and denatured alcohol, and covered the shoe imprint with it. The mold wash keeps the sand from sticking to the metal while we pour and also helps the sand stay bound while the metal is setting up. It took two coats of mold wash, and then it was ready for the iron pour on Wednesday. I also packed my plasticine mold with sand and worked on my idea for my scratch mold. I went back and forth between working on packing and working on finishing my metal pieces. It took about 15 minutes to work the small sprue and vents off of one of my skirts and about 30 minutes to saw off the 1 cubic inch sprue off of my aluminum piece.

Wednesday was our field trip of OK Foundry in Richmond, VA. All of us took one mold down to have iron poured into them. The foundry was amazing. It was about 10 degrees hotter in the building then it was outside, and the fumes were awful. However, watching these professionals pour these huge molds for parts for industrial machines next to our tiny little molds was incredible. These guys are in here 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, working through all of the fumes and heat to get there job done. They use an induction furnace at OK Foundry, which is a furnace run by electricity to pour a huge magnet which agitates the molecules in the metal so that they heat up and become a liquid. Instead of a crucible to pour the metal, they use a ladle to pour. This ladle is on a hydraulic crane to lift it. It has different levers that they operator uses to pour the metal slowly into the molds.

One of the best parts of this foundry is that they are very green. They recycle almost everything they use, except for the chemicals they use for one of their mold making processes.  They accept scrap iron from businesses and people to melt down for more pours. They reuse the sand until it gets too fine, and then ship it off to a concrete company where it gets mixed into their concrete. They said don’t even fill up one dumpster each month. It’s truly a sight to behold.

Thursday was our day of class. It was a bittersweet ending. This class is truly the first class that I’ve actually enjoyed at college. Today we poured both aluminum and bronze. And little 5’1 and 100lbs me got to be involved with both pours! During the aluminum pour was on the non-pouring end of the crucible. The crucible sits in a holder with two long handles coming off of it. It is attached to a hydraulic crane that does all the heavy lifting, but it still is a lot of work. On one end of the holder, is a handle that comes out as a “Y,” while the other one just is a straight pole. The end with the “Y” ending is the pouring side, while the other side is the stabilizer. For the aluminum pour, I was the stabilizer, which was amazing. I hope someone got pictures of it happening.  For the bronze pour I was operating the hydraulic system, making the crucible go up and down depending on where the mold was and how tall it was. It truly was an experience of a lifetime.

Next Wednesday was have an open studio day where we are doing clean up and working on finishing our pieces. I will post pictures in next weeks post after the pieces are closer to being complete!

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