You’ve been to a community potluck, but have you ever heard of a community iron pour? If it sounds hot and dangerous, that’s because it is. But don’t let that deter you. This event is in the talented, capable hands of cast iron artist and Duluth Women Model Alisa.
Pour’n Yer Heart Out Community Iron Pour began in 2008 as a way for Alisa and other Madison, Wisconsin-area cast iron artists to make art during the frigid winter. It quickly became a community event, and an opportunity for Duluth Trading to support a local Duluth Women Model’s passion. “Iron and foundry are very much a part of our state’s culture and heritage,” she says. “We want to get people interested in seeing what it takes to make this stuff — to start demystifying the process.”
So how do you make a near ton of molten metal and a 2,500 °F furnace into a family-friendly event? It takes a bit of heart. Here’s the quick and dirty: When hot iron comes out of a furnace, it’s poured into silica sand molds in whatever shape you want to create. For Pour’n Yer Heart Out, Alisa came up with the idea of heart-shaped molds. They always did the pour around Valentine’s Day, so why not? Participants purchased and pick up the heart molds up to a month in advance in order to personalize them. Then, on the day of the event in early February, they wrap up warm to come and watch ’em get filled with sizzling metal.
Why do community members brave the cold? “It’s just really cool for people to be able to make something iron with their own two hands,” says Alisa. And each year, people of all ages make upwards of a hundred hearts. “We’ve seen parents bring their kids back year after year,” says Alisa. “It’s like casting a kid’s artistic handprint in iron! That’s way more substantial than a photograph.”