GoggleWorks Center for the Arts’ Spring Iron and Forge Pour Fest, so hot it’s cool, in Reading
Goggleworks Center for the Arts rallies the community around its forge on April 30, 2022, for its first free public "pour" of hot iron in two years. The family-friendly event, which includes live music, food with the "pour" at sundown, also features blacksmithing this year, through a partnership with PA Artist Blacksmiths' Association. Whether or not you need a "spark" to ignite your post-pandemic excursions out, this sounds like an exciting event, focused on art, craft and artists. One day only in Reading. Full details in the post.

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A man in head to toe protective gear operates a iron forge with sparks flying out of it, while people observe from a distance.
GoggleWorks Spring Iron Pour and Forge Fest – 2,000 pounds of molten iron is tapped from the furnace and poured into molds

You feel an unusual warmth sitting outside on an otherwise cool, spring day. You hear the repeated clank, clank, clank of a hammer hitting an anvil. You catch the scent of fire roasted local food that’s been pit-roasting for hours and your mouth starts to water. You’re in the parking lot of an old goggle factory, standing in the shadow of its imposing brick chimney, but surrounded by the buzz of modern city life. Then, you notice the sound of rushing wind as it passes through a furnace and is super-heated to over 2,000 degrees. Even from a distance you can feel the intense temperature. The excitement is building, the sun is setting, and soon it will be time to pour heavy metal, liquid and hot like lava, into fantastical forms. These are the sensations at GoggleWorks Center for the Arts (GoggleWorks) during their Spring Iron Pour and Forge Fest: a celebration of fire and all it can create.

Returning on April 30th after a two-year hiatus, GoggleWorks welcomes the community to its annual celebration of all things molten metal. The art center, which specializes in creating unique experiences out of the artistic process, spares nothing for this particular event. It’s like the artists’ vision of a fireworks celebration–spectacular yet sustainable, highly technical but packed with fun hands-on activities, and enjoyed by people from all across the community.

The event is free and open to the public, with the signature event–the iron pour itself–scheduled at dusk. Held annually for residents, artists, and visitors, up to 1,000 typically witness the sparks, pouring, tapping, and shaping of superheated metal. The celebration is complete with live music, food, and plenty to see and do for the whole family. This year the event expands to include blacksmithing, through a partnership with the PA Artist Blacksmiths’ Association.

The iron pour process is pretty simple, although for GoggleWorks it tells a story of their mission. First, the metal. The nonprofit art center receives donations of radiators and any manner of hard iron detritus from churches, residential developers, nonprofits, and residents. This reclaimed iron gets broken down with a sledgehammer into smaller pieces by staff and students. Next, iron workers need a furnace that can get very hot. That’s where Albright College and artist-professor Brian Glaze come into play. Glaze lends his furnace and crucible to heat the old, hard metal. Glaze serves as sort of master of the ceremony, leading it as a massive, real-time learning experience. A pour team comprised of artists and makers along with students from GoggleWorks and Albright raise the iron to approximately 2,500 degrees, hot enough to turn the metal into liquid. They unplug the furnace and molten hot iron shoots sparks, spilling out into a crucible container. The team pours this into cast molds made by artists and curious attendees who want to participate. Once cooled, these participants take home a new metal artwork relief-casted into the shape of their mold, a memorable souvenir of an unforgettable experience.

While this process has been happening for thousands of years, it has tremendous potential for an art center like GoggleWorks, which uses hand-on experiences to drive curiosity and engagement by city residents and visitors. Leaders at the nonprofit have recently expanded the scope of their vision, greenlighting and growing outdoor and mobile programs designed to activate public spaces and make creativity more accessible for everyone.

This year, the spectacle grows. With the additional support of the PA Artist Blacksmith Association (PABA), the event will open its arms to a wider community of artists working metal, showcasing a technique that similarly captivates spectators. The Forge Fest, which will precede the Iron Pour and run from 3pm to 7pm, adds a unique new opportunity to show the impact of fire and brute force on metal.

PABA blacksmiths will heat metal in a forge, a furnace that holds fire, until it glows red hot. Removing the object, they hit it repeatedly with a hammer, slowly shaping it with each blow: part artistry, part exercise. Fire and heat only further add to the determination required by these artist-blacksmiths.

In true GoggleWorks fashion, the art process is surrounded by much fanfare. Dundore and Heister, a local butcher shop specializing in whole animal butchery, is a key sponsor for the event. They construct a pit roast on-site for made-to-order preparations of delicious food supplied by local farmers. Led by GoggleWorks board chair Tod Auman with his wife Chrissy Auman, the food operation offers an approach in keeping with the event: fine-crafted, unique, and fun to watch. The event will again welcome top-notch musical acts and other performances to the table. For those that need the garnish: GoggleWorks will add an outdoor bar, marshmallow roasting in hot glass crucibles, and hands-on activities for families and kids.

Spring Iron Pour and Forge Festival
GoggleWorks – 201 Washington St. Reading, PA
Saturday, April 30th (rain date May 7th)
Forge Fest begins at 2pm
Iron Pour begins at 7pm
More information

The first fifty participants will have the opportunity to purchase and prepare their own mold to be cast in molten iron. The multi-week iron pour class is sold out. Search “Calendar” at GoggleWorks.org for more details and other upcoming events.

Tags

Albright College, annual celebration, Blacksmiths, Brian Glaze, butcher shop, Chrissy Auman, community, Dundore and Heister, event, Forge Fest, goggle factory, goggleworks, GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, Iron Pour, live music, Metalsmithing, PA Artist Blacksmiths' Association, PABA, Spring Iron Pour and Forge Fest, Tod Auman

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