Valentines Hot Metal
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Metal Pour'  iron pour  Valentines Metal Pour

Join Minnesota iron artists for a fire and ice event for 2018

Participate in the process by creating a scratch block, or grab your sweetheart for a unique day out


Valentine's Hot Metal Pour: Saturday February 17, 2018, Noon - 5pm, FREE
Scratch Block Workshops: January 27, 28 and February 3,4,10 & 11, 10am-1pm or 2pm-5pm

Mold Prices: $30/small, $45/medium $75/large (credit card processing fees will apply

Each winter, Minnesota artists crawl out of hibernation and join Franconia for an outdoor iron pour. The event is an invigorating mix of fire and ice. We invite you to join in this unique opportunity by scratching a block of sand that will be poured with molten iron, creating your very own iron sculpture at the Valentine’s Day Hot Metal Pour.

To make a scratch block, you will want to attend one of our scratch block workshops. Watch the scratch block video to learn about the process. Workshops are free with the purchase of a sand mold. Then whether or not you made a scratch block, make sure to come to the park on February 17th with your loved ones and some hot cocoa for a special event totally worth braving the cold for. You can warm your hands by the fire or on your freshly poured sculpture! We will offer two behind the scenes tours so you can understand the process of casting iron on a deeper level as well as a Q & A booth with participating iron artists!New this year-- look for our blog posts which feature The Detailed Process of Casting Iron and Life as a Professional Artist working in Cast Iron!!! 


Scratch Block Process from Franconia Sculpture Park on Vimeo.

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What Happens at an Iron Pour?
The iron artists at Franconia create a three-dimensional (positive) sculpture form. This sculpture can be made from disposable and varied materials because it is not permanent. It is used as a form to create negative space in a sand mold.

Sand is built up around the temporary sculpture with the aid of wood or other types of supports to create one mold, or many sections of one mold. Often times these molds have as many as twenty parts, and can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. When the sand mold is complete, the temporary sculpture is removed from the resin hardened sand mold, the sand pieces are reassemble, thus making the negative space (void) for the hot iron. If you created a scratch block mold, the negative space is created by carving designs into a already made block of sand.

The iron cupola (furnace) is then fired up to 2,700°F using coke, a derivative of coal, to fuel the furnace. Iron is then slowly loaded into the top of the cupola to create a reservoir of molten iron that is ready to pour. Up to 8,000 pounds of red-hot molten iron will be poured throughout the day.

The pour team carefully fills each mold with a preheated ladle. The team also pours liquid iron into all of the scratch block sculpture molds made by community members. It is an exciting and hot event! If you would like to create a Scratch Block Sand Mold that will be cast on during the Valentines Day Pour.

When the molds are full, the cooling process begins. Scratch blocks are placed into a quenching buckets to help with the cooling process. Once cool, Franconia staff will break the sand away, revealing a cast iron positive replica of the negative space you carved into your block of sand. Franconia staff will the chase your sculpture, a process that involves grinding and brushing away any sharp edges and sand debris.

At this point your sculpture is complete. You can pick up your cast iron sculpture and take it home with you. Please keep in mind that the process of pouring each mold, allowing for the iron to cool, and cleaning each sculpture is a time consuming process. It is a possibility that your sculpture will not be ready until very late in the day. If you are unable to wait for your sculpture to be finished, it will be available for you to pick up at Franconia’s office.

How do I participate?
You can try your hand at mold making by scratching a design into resin hardened sand. Watch the video to get a better understanding of all the steps involved in creating a resin hardened sand mold.

Then head to our registration page to purchase your sand mold, select a workshop date and time, and let Franconia know how many people will be attending the workshop.

At the workshop, Franconia staff will be around to show you the basic scratching techniques and to answer questions throughout the process. You must be present one hour before workshop ends to account for time to complete your sand mold.

Contact Franconia's Education and Program Coordinator Kendra Douglas at if you have any questions or call our office at 651-257-6668.

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sponsorThis activity is funded, in part, through a grant from the East Central Regional Arts Council through an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the State’s general fund. Thank you!
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