Volume #11, No. 2
December 2010

Spotlight on Lauren Holmgren and Josh Dow: Molten Metal

New Catalog, New instructors and the Perfect Gift to Give this Holiday Season

A new catalog of classes is on our website www.sanctuaryarts.org. Check out the three new
instructors I introduced in my director's notes- painters Erin Murray and Todd Bonita, and sculptor/designer Jennifer Fields.

Foggy Cove Dory
Foggy Cove Dory by Todd Bonita

I am delighted to be able to continue to offer high quality art instruction with some of the area's top artists. I've spent my life trying to acquire the artistic skills that were dismissed as irrelevant when I was getting my education in the expressive 60's and 70's, and am still learning.
When the Ships Come In
When the Ships Come In by Erin Murray

Consider giving the gift of a class as you gear up for the holidays. A Gift Certificate for one of our classes is a gift of artistic enrichment that will continue to give throughout the life of the recipient.
felted callico cat head with Blue Jay.
Felted callico cat head with Blue Jay by Jenn Fields


Sanctuary Arts
117 Bolt Hill Road
Eliot, ME 03903
(207) 438-9826

Iron Pour
Iron Pour!

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 Works.

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 bronze.

Crosswalk by Ernest Montenegro
                          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 George.

Josh and Lauren w/part of sculpture by Jeff Buccacio
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.

Iron Guild at Mac Steel, August 2010
Iron Guild at Mac Steel, August 2010

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

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.

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