MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) — All this week, we’re showing you some of the most unique art experiences in the Twin Cities metro.
We kick off our art week Monday by creating pieces of art with plenty of heat. We checked out a bronze pour that is part of a sculpting class at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts.
Bronze pouring is a process that’s been around for centuries. But these days, there are only a few places where the public can participate.
“We’re really about the only very accessible foundry in the Midwest,” said George Hagemann. The Minnetonka Center for the Arts hosts a bronze pour as part of their sculpting class series about every eight weeks.
Students start by making a wax mold of their design. The wax is set in plaster pillars, called investments. These will house the molten bronze once the wax melts away inside an 1,100 degree Kiln.
“If everything is timed right it’ll be coming out of the kiln at about 500 degrees,” Hagemann said.
As the investments cool, the bronze heats up inside a furnace 15 times more powerful than ones you find at home.
“It takes about an hour and a half to get that bronze from room temperature to 2,100 degrees,” Hagemann said.
Lifting the hot crucible carefully, the instructors must wear protective coats and masks as they pour bronze into each mold with painstaking precision. They’ll cool in this pit for about an hour, before students can get to work.
“Once we pull it out of the pit they’re going to be cracking it open themselves. They’re going to be doing all the rest of the work,” said Hagemann.
Students cut and manipulate the still warm bronze until they get a finished piece. Most usually come back again and again.
“There’s some students that have been coming here working on sculptures for more than 20 years,” Hagemann said. “Anybody can do this starting with no experience, and most everybody’s going to come home with a finished piece of bronze to their liking.”
Bronze sculpting classes at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts run $250 to $300 for an eight week session.