Everything, including the kitchen sink, part of this fiery display

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Submitted by Glenn Miller

Sculpture students wait for fuel coke and iron to melt before opening up the well to drain the molten metal from the furnace. The College of Imaging Arts and Sciences will do an iron pour for the Imagine Festival.

Visitors to the Imagine Festival watched a traditional coke fired cupola, a visual labor-intensive process used for several hundred years to produce cast iron objects.

Cast iron bathtubs, radiators and even kitchen sinks are thrown into a furnace burning at a temperature of 3200 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We keep melting iron all day and when the well of the furnace fills up, we open up the furnace and drain the molten iron out into something similar to a large soup ladle and then pour the iron into the molds,” says Elizabeth Kronfeld, assistant professor in RIT’s School of Art. “We will keep repeating that process all day.”

Coke, or condensed coal, serves as the fuel. The coal mixed with the air melts the broken up bathtubs and other materials. The furnace has three segments—the stack area where the fuel and material are added, the melt zone where the iron melts, and the well of the furnace where the molten iron collects. The well holds about 120 pounds.

Students in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences poured a variety of forms including self-portraits in iron, parts of a human figure and seed pods.