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Artists Salute ‘U’ Professor At 45th Minn. Iron Pour

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Piles of old, rusty radiators that lay outside a University of Minnesota building will soon become works of art.

The Minnesota Iron Pour has been creating castings for 45 years. The creations start in a cupola, where iron pieces are heated up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, according to professor Wayne Potratz.

“It’s an aesthetic, athletic, pyrotechnic event,” Potratz said. “We’re going to melt today probably about 1,500 pounds of iron.”

An assembly line of artists, including former student Meagan Daus, pour the 250 pounds of molten iron quickly and carefully into sand castings

“We watch for the metal to start dripping, for it dripping fast. When it’s done, we’re ready to tap out,” Daus said. “It’s kind of like one, large coordinated dance, and without everyone working together it would just fall apart.”

The process is repeated every 15 to 20 minutes. Professor Potratz credits the collaborative process with the event’s longevity.

Potratz, a self-proclaimed “fire freak,” is retiring this year. To celebrate his commitment to the education and creative work of his students, artists from across the country and world came to Minneapolis to participate in the iron pour.

“He’s very dedicated to metal casting and art and to his students,” Daus said.

More than 30 tons of radiators were pulled from Northrup Auditorium during its renovation.

They’ll provide the art program with enough iron for the next 10 years.

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