This month I am writing to introduce you to Lauren Holmgren
and Josh Dow, the principles in Green Foundry who are offering Driftwood & Lace: Organic to Bronze (SA 17) . They enjoy teaching, and besides
their classes at Sanctuary Arts, have taught at the New England School of
Metalwork in Auburn Maine, Haystack, Bristol Community College, and Saugus Iron
Classes with Josh and Lauren are small, since casting is
complex, with a diverse group of people, from lobstermen to dentists, enrolling
to learn this technical and alchemical process. Driftwood & Lace is
a class offering a direct burnout process for anything organic to become
bronze. Students have cast mice in traps, lobster claws, avocados, birds,
fruit, tree branches and vines, from ceramic shell molds that are fired, the
debris removed, and bronze poured into the mold, creating exact replicas in
Josh & Lauren with Crosswalk by Ernest Montenegro|
I've known Lauren and Josh since they wandered by 6 years
ago when I was erecting a steel foundry building (on the theory “if you build
it they will come”). They insisted they were going to run the foundry once they
finished college at Mass Art, and proceeded to do so, teaching classes in
foundry processes and casting my work in bronze and the work of so many
students and professional sculptors. I have watched them grow from foundry
novices to accomplished metal casters, always improving their knowledge and
techniques. They became part of our communal household and even held their
wedding here this past June. They have enriched the fabric of life at Sanctuary
Arts, raising chickens and honey bees and being bossed around by their cat
|Josh and Lauren w/part of sculpture by Jeff Buccacio|
As professional metal casters, every project this duo
undertake is unique. From working artistically through collaboration as
co-designers, to casting completed sculpture, they seldom work on the same
thing twice. Molten metal is the jewel of the foundry, a mesmerizing,
beautiful, magical process that transforms clay, wax, or even lace and
driftwood to bronze, iron, or aluminum.
Recently they have been collaborating
with a small foundry to cast objects in steel, stainless steel and copper.
Their gratification comes from seeing the original sculpted piece that the
artist has spent so much time, effort and material on, become a finished
product that looks like a new sculpture. Often the artist is surprised to see
the beauty of their finished product. From the original piece to the finished
metal is a complex process that the artist rarely understands until their piece
makes that transformative journey.
Green Foundry processes are environmentally friendly, limiting
the use of synthetics, and boiling out the wax rather than burning it out. This
saves all the wax and does not pollute the environment.
Creatively, Lauren and Josh are co-founders of a performance
iron casting group begun in their college years at Mass Art. They travel around
New England putting on night time molten iron spectacles for the public. One
performance I saw this year at Mac Steel, a 100 year old scrapyard spanning 80
acres in Rutland Vermont. Using scrap metal from the yard, they built a large
scale set and sculptures which they anointed with fire, simulated lightening
and molten iron, while musicians played.
It's a spectacle and performance that I will never forget. As a
traditional sculptor, I am usually skeptical about the merits of performance
art, but they have converted me with their exceptional prowess and creativity.
They also perform yearly at the Steelyard in Providence Rhode Island. http://ironguild.net
|Iron Guild at Mac Steel, August 2010|
When asked about their future plans, both Josh and Lauren
say they would like to continue to maintain a viable business with customer
satisfaction as their main goal, but would also like to focus some energy on
their own creative projects and perhaps entice more artists to cast in iron.