"Art on Fire"
Iron Pour Art Fest
June 26, 2010

Artists from across the country came together at the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry beside the airport in Wasilla on Saturday, June 26, 2010 to cast unique iron sculptures, create Raku pottery, and engage in other similar “fiery” events at the Third Annual "Valley Arts Alliance ART ON FIRE Iron Pour Art Fest".

A team, consisting of Pat Garley, who owns Arctic Fires Bronze in Palmer, D’jean Jawrunner, a college professor from New Mexico, Donnie Keen a commercial foundry owner from Houston, Texas, and other local sculptors and skilled metal workers, demonstrated the fascinating 5000 year old iron casting process using a custom designed furnace known as a “cupola”.

Scrap iron was loaded into the cupola, where temperatures of up to 3000 degrees, quickly turned it into a pool of molten metal. The artists and sculptors, dressed in fire-resistant suits of leather, poured the molten iron into molds created earlier in the week by artists at Garley’s workshop in Palmer. This cycle of heating and pouring continued throughout the day.

At the same time, artist Karen Lopez, who owns “Still Waters Pottery” in Palmer, conducted her Raku pottery workshop.  Karen provided each participant with a vessel or pot of fired and unglazed ceramic ware, known as bisque. The participants then decorated their vessel with a variety of glazes and fired it in Karen’s special Raku kiln.

After a short firing, the “red hot” vessels were placed inside a metal can full of combustible materials, and the can sealed with the “red hot” Raku vessel inside, a process that draws the oxygen out of the vessel and its glaze and is responsible for the unique and completely unpredictable Raku look. See photos of our May 2010 Raku Pottery Party on our archives page.

Concurrently with the iron pour and Raku events, the Association of Alaskan Blacksmiths demonstrated blacksmithing techniques, John Vinson demonstrated glass flameworking, and Judy Vars demonstrated Encaustic wax painting. The Alaska Wild Bird Rehab Center brought live rescued birds for display, and Sahara Storm Tribal Dance Troupe performed. Live music was provided by Josh Fryfogle, Justin Windish, Devin and Chad of UTN, Grover Neely, Dave Norman, and Corey Bjerken. Food was available from The Rib Cage and Sophia’s Kafe Neo throughout the day.

This day was an extraordinary Iron Pour Art Fest in the Valley!