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Exploring Metal Casting and Collaborative Experimental Preservation

Jun 10 – Jun 23, 2024
Birmingham, AL
Explore metal casting and collaborative craftsmanship through the lens of experimental preservation in our two-week summer workshop. This immersive program blends hands-on experiences with theoretical knowledge and creativity, offering participants a unique approach to the design and technology involved in architectural heritage conservation.
Methodology and Process

Week 1: Crafting Building Fragments
In the first week, participants will immerse themselves in the art of metal casting and preservation techniques within the confines of our Preservation Technology Lab. Guided by experienced artisans and preservation experts, students will learn to create wooden patterns and wax molds to replicate building fragments reminiscent of architectural grilles. Through meticulous craftsmanship, each participant will contribute to the creation of these fragments, forming a collaborative process akin to constructing a “metal quilt.”

Week 2: Exploring Metal Casting and Preservation Sites. The second week takes participants on a journey to historic sites and industry partners in Alabama, offering firsthand experience in metal casting and preservation practices. We’ll spend 1-2 days at the iconic Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark in Birmingham, where participants will have the opportunity to pour gray iron and gain insight into ferrous metal casting techniques.

Next, a day at the Birmingham Sculpture Metal Arts Foundry will provide exposure to the ceramic shell process, exploring nonferrous metal casting methods and expanding participants’ understanding of preservation practices.

To conclude the week, we’ll visit Allen’s shop, where participants will learn the art of applying hot and cold patinas to bronze, adding depth and character to their creations. Here, the collaborative process comes full circle as participants witness the transformation of individual fragments into a cohesive architectural grille.

Outputs and Findings

The Metal Quilt
Inspired by the concept of building fragments, participants will collectively fabricate and assemble the architectural grille using the fragments created throughout the workshop.

This collaborative endeavor symbolizes the intersection of individual creativity and collective effort in preserving architectural heritage. Upon completion, the grille will be patinated and sent back to Columbia, where it will be hung on display as a tangible representation of the workshop’s collaborative spirit.

This enriching and transformative experience is meant to introduce students to the art, science and technology of metal craftsmanship, heritage conservation, and collaborative experimental preservation practices. Together, let’s weave a tapestry of architectural history through the art of metal casting.

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