Experimental Metal Casting


In October of 2013, we were fortunate enough to have a visit from artists and community builders Noah Kirby and Allison Ouellete-Kirby; after driving all the way from St. Louis to Hanover, they led a fascinating, whirlwind weekend workshop on iron pouring.


Then in November of 2013, I realized that the deadline for an annual cash award for project proposals in the arts was rapidly approaching – over the course of week, again with the indefatigable and always enthusiastic Will Jewett, we slammed together a proposal and a detailed budget to build our own cupola-style, propane-fired blast furnace. Several weeks later, we were thrilled to receive the Robert Dance '77 Arts Initiative Award in the full amount we requested to pursue the project.


Over the winter, we designed and Will constructed a furnace with capacity for a 16 pound charge of aluminum. Three inches of refractory material line a 30-gallon oil drum to form the furnace body. The blower is a simple forced-air, propane mixture, with a variable speed, 230 CFM leafblower providing thrust. We found that we could melt a full charge of aluminum in less than 10 minutes.