OXFORD, Miss. – The Rebel Sculpture Society invites anyone interested in sculpture and metalwork to watch metal casting at the new foundry at the University of Mississippi Department of Art.
Starting at noon Oct. 28, sculpture students will be pouring molten bronze and aluminum into their project molds. The event will be in the foundry area of the sculpture department, accessible through Room 10 in the basement of Meek Hall. Pizza and refreshments will be available.
If interested, spectators can come early and make small scratchblocks to be used as molds for relief sculptures. Scratchblocks must be finished by 1 p.m. in order to be poured.
“The previous facility was shared with metal fabrication, where quarters were extremely cramped,” said Durant Thompson, head of the sculpture emphasis. “Ventilation, safety and student work space are greatly increased with the creation of the new foundry.”
The contracted work for the foundry building, wall and outside work area was completed in late 2010 and handed over to the art department. Last April, the furnace installation was completed and the furnace made its first test run.
“The facility is still undergoing upgrades but should be fully operational by March 2012, when the kiln and iron furnace will also be up and running,” Thompson said.
Thompson described the pouring process.
“Solid bronze or aluminum ingots are heated with gas and air to a temperature of about 2,000 degrees in the furnace. Once heated the molten metal is taken from the furnace in a crucible to a waiting mold. The metal is then poured into mold cavities of various designs. When cooled, the molds are opened to reveal the solidified metal in the shape of the new design.”
The foundry fulfills a longtime dream for the art department.
“We are now one of the few art departments in the country that has a foundry, and because of that, we are now drawing more undergraduate and graduate students to our school,” said Sheri Fleck Rieth, chair and professor of art.
“The Department of Art would like to thank the administration in the College of Liberal Arts, Dr. Glenn Hopkins, Dr. Ron Vernon and Dr. Holly Reynolds, for their support of the building of the foundry. Also, thanks should go to Mr. Chad Hunter and Mr. Ian Banner for their thoughtful work and guidance with plans and construction.”
MFA students with an emphasis in sculpture said they are excited about the event.
“I’m glad to be a part of bringing foundry work back to the university. It’s been a while since this has been available, and Durant has done a great job getting things in place,” said Jake Weigel, a graduate assistant/instructor from Marshfield, Wis. “Metal pours are always hard work, but lots of fun. I’m expecting a successful pour with lots of people, food and hot metal.”
“I am extremely excited about the new foundry,” said Lily Stover, a senior from Biloxi. “It’s a great addition to the art department. Before its construction, the classes would have to plan elaborate trips to other schools with foundries. Now we can host our own pours. I’m positive our next pour will be a success.”
For more information, visit the Department of Art, or call 662-915-7513.