HOT METAL/LOST WAX
In order to find my writing voice/my zazz/my power again I am trying to discover new ways to think…to think with my hands more than my head…to rely on my physical consciousness and my unconscious more. To this end I have taken a class in hot metal casting at Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center here in Minneapolis. It is a stretch for me in some ways and not in others.
How it is a stretch:
To cast hot metal into a lost wax mold you have to weigh your wax model, you have to calculate how much bronze you will need to fill the mold once the wax is melted out or lost. You also need math to figure out the formula for the sand in which you will make your lost wax mold.
I am not a fan of math and so I disappear into the no-math-o-sphere when these calculations are explained to me and let my classmates do the counting.
- Except for the teacher who is 8 months pregnant, I am the only woman in a class of 8 students. Most of the men speak to me, two do not. My wax mold is a tiny two faced head which is about 4 inches tall. All the men but one have made voluminous statues—a bear, two tall men, an alien head, and one of my fellow students went past the size limit to make a long, languorous nude woman.
- Hot metal casting involves a costume and a dance
On the days that we are pouring hot metal, we need to dress up in a costume that looks like a combination bee keeper/fencer/blacksmith outfit. I am not a fan of a costume, though this one is kind of cool: spats, gauntlets, apron, longish coat, and helmet/mask. All leather, though no chaps.
When the metal is hot and you have to pour it, first two people take the full and so hot it could kill you crucible out of the kiln with a long pair of pliers, then then set it down into a device that will be driven by two more people, and one person guides them at the same time they are skimming for impurities in the hot metal.
We pour, we wait, we pour more. The crucible is heavy, the dance requires teamwork.
How it is not a stretch:
- The dance requires team work and I am finding myself able to work
with 7 men who themselves are learning—and no one is messing with metal that looks like lava
- The language intrigues me: lost wax; investment; etc.
- I am working with my body brain on an art form I never considered with 7 men and a very pregnant teacher
- There is fire outside and lava inside, sparks everywhere, in the middle of a brutal Minneapolis winter