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Stoking the Fire 3


Sculpture students Kelley Gierach and Caitlin Leu were among those integrally involved in the December metal pour. After the heat died down, we asked them a few questions.

p3 group
COOLING DOWN: From l-r Team Metal Pourers Heidi Clayton, Caitlin Leu and Kelley Gierach, take a quick break as they wait the clay molds to cool. Photo by Shawn McAfee/UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies.

 1. What was your role during the metal pour?

Kelley: I was the Pour Master. The Pour Master runs the kiln, loading and unloading ceramic molds; runs the furnace to melt the bronze; calls out the commands during the pour, and pours the metal into the molds.

Caitlin: My role last was to be the shank or wingman to Kelley, who was the Pour Master. Before the pour both Kelley and I load the kiln with pieces and fill the crucible with metal. Just before we pour Kelley will check over the molds which are extremely hot and check for any cracks. My job is to place the molds in the sand pit. During the pour I just help to steady and help her guide the metal as she pours. 


2. Why metal sculpture? What do you get out making such things? What is it like to see your work, in one sense, come alive? 

 Kelley: I have been pouring metal for 5 years now, and I am in love with it. The smell, roar and glow of the foundry is mesmerizing. You can feel it in your belly. Metal is eternal, the process is ancient and you know what you make has to be good, because it's going to last forever. The tribal quality of the pour crew is also the reason I do this; everyone has a deeper connection through fire.

Caitlin: The reason for metal in my pieces is that it's a very physical material; it's very challenging, but the the challenge has not only pushed my concepts and thoughts farther but it has push me as well. You ask any artist, if they feel a challenge, they will do what it takes to overcome whatever problems occur and make it work. Artists are tough people.


p3 brick
 Prep work: Caitlin prepares the sand pit for the pour. Photo by Shawn McAfee/UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies.

3. What do you like best about being in the Advanced Sculpture Class with Teresa Lind?

Kelley: Tree (Teresa)is the best thing that's happened to this foundry in a long time. Since she's been here we have gone above and beyond what we thought we could do. She started us on Iron; we built our first blast furnace and went to our first iron conferences with her. She is absolutely the most dedicated and committed professor there. The confidence and work ethic she instills makes you want to work harder and more often than ever. In my mind, Tree saved the foundry and is starting up a whole new generation of metal-heads. She's honest, approachable, and the best damn role-model anyone could have. When you think you're tired and hungry, she's been working twice as long and three times as hard.

Caitlin: What I have learned best from Teresa Lind can't be summed up into a few sentences or a paragraph so I will just share what I believe is one the most important lessons I have learned from her. Teresa has taught me to push myself; never settle for anything but what you envisioned. I have never in my life done so many scary, tough, physical things than I have with Professor Lind, but as soon as I am done I realize it wasn't so bad, I could do it again! She teaches me to push myself by her own example of work ethic and dedication to her own work as well as to her students. I feel very honored to be one her students.

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