By Abigail Connolly
Oswego State’s Art and Technology Departments are scheduled to hold their annual iron casting at the end of April to celebrate the age-old art form of metal casting.
This marks a significant return to the event, which was canceled last year due to the pandemic. The last time an iron casting took place was in 2019 by the Department of Technology. The last time it was a joint effort with the art department was in 2018.
Richard Bush, professor of technology at SUNY Oswego, leads the event alongside art professor Benjamin Entner. The event allows students taking sculpture classes to cast metal sculptures of their own designs.
“An iron casting is a very unique and uncommon experience,” Entner said in an email. “For the students involved, it’s collaborative, essential and downright exciting. They learn a very old technique but above all they learn to make art in a team or rather in a community. In an iron casting, each participating student has a role and all roles are necessary for casting to work both safely and successfully.I am always amazed at how the dynamics of a class change after iron casting.
Metal casting works by superheating the metal to the point where it becomes liquid. The resulting material is then cast into the students’ molds of their work.
“Basically we built a simple furnace, called a cupola, which is heated with purified charcoal, coke, until it gets to around 3000 degrees,” Entner said. “To this we add scrap metal: old pipes, radiators, car rotors, which are then heated until they are liquefied. The liquid metal is then captured in a large ladle and [poured] into molds to create student-designed objects and sculptures.
Anyone in the campus community can participate in the casting. Arts Alive, SUNY Oswego’s arts club, will provide “scratch blocks” to all members of the campus community. These blocks of easily sculptable material allow anyone to carve out a casting sculpture design.
The event has partnered with Oswego High School in the past to allow their students to sink their own scratch blocks, and the group is looking forward to collaborating with them again this year.
The event will conclude with the burning of a 10-foot-tall wooden effigy, designed and crafted by advanced sculpture students Michaela Lawrence and Kayla Kitchener.
This year marks a special collaboration between the sculpting class and the new virtual reality-based art class. Led by SUNY Oswego professor Rebecca Thompson, the class uses virtual reality to create works of art using programs such as Gravity Sketch and MasterpieceVR.
This year, VR students are designing VR sculptures to be printed using 3D printers. These plastic models will then be used as molds for iron casting, taking a virtual sculpture and making it tangible.
“It’s going to be really cool to see the little figurines we’ve created in VR come to life in 3D and come to life even more in cast iron,” said Samantha Whitman, a student in the VR class. “They can be like really cool paperweights.”
The iron casting will take place on April 22 at The Pit, located on the north side of Tyler Hall facing the Hewitt Quad. The event will run throughout the afternoon and will be free and open to the public.
“We are actually part of the ‘Casablanca’ division,” Juliet Giglio said. “So it’s what I would consider a Rom-Com book. It’s definitely beach reading and our editor Deb said, ‘You know what, I can see us putting this out in the summer and also just before Christmas.”
The novel is set to be released this summer on digital and print platforms. The Giglios said they expected familiar upstate New York landscapes, as they wrote the majority of their writing after visiting Geneva in the heart of the Finger Lakes. The Giglios added that upstate audiences can count on recognition of scenes from the novel.
“We’ve been living here for 10 years now,” said Keith Giglio. “We always love going out there to the vineyards. But we spent a few days just in Geneva, looking around, incorporating places like Hobart and [William] Black-smith [Colleges]and you know, trying to make it as authentic as possible.
Juliet Giglio mentioned that there were many places the couple wanted to include in the novel.
“Belhurst Castle is an important place in the book,” Juliet Giglio said. “We thought it would be a fun place to set our story.”
The novel follows the story of screenwriter Ivy Green as she tries to navigate the challenges of filming a movie in her hometown alongside her high school sweetheart. Chaos and comedy ensue as film crews manage to create a winter wonderland in mid-July.
“Of course we had to make it a love triangle,” Juliet Giglio said. “The main character is a screenwriter, which we understand very well, and she was dumped by her boyfriend. First she wrote this script on her [kindergarten] by [12th grade] romance with her boyfriend. And when he dumps her, the film is lit green and he goes into production. The irony is that when they go to film him, they shoot him in his hometown, and of course he’s still there.
Keith Giglio said a lot of this romance comes from the couple’s experience writing Christmas movies in the same genre.
“The book comes from our experience,” he said. “Obviously, this is not non-fiction, but our experience of writing Christmas movies and watching them being filmed at 85 degrees. If you think holiday madness is just for cold December, no.
The Giglios will have a live reading of the novel at River’s End on September 22.
“The Summer of Christmas” is available for pre-order through Target, Barnes and Noble, Apple Books and more locally, River’s End Bookstore. Juliet Giglio recommends people living in or near Oswego to shop locally.
“I think if people are in the Oswego area they should definitely order through River’s End,” Juliet Giglio said. “The price is the same regardless, and that’s the other good thing. Because it’s published in a paperback, it’s a great price.
Picture via jkgiglio.com