First Posted: 6/10/2014
SCRANTON — Students of the Keystone Iron Works program donned welding suits and hard hats to work with hot, molten iron at the Scranton Iron Furnacesduring the Arts on Fire Festival held June 6-8.
About 42 participants made up of high school and college students, joined the Keystone Iron Works and Arts Engage program to gain first-hand experience of the jobs performed by European immigrants in the 1800s.
“It’s a really great opportunity for high school students to get involved in the arts and the process that has been integral to the history of Scranton,” said Kevin Dartt, instructor of the program.
Before they participated in the Arts on Fire Festival, Keystone Iron Works students practiced iron pouring in workshops at the Keystone College art studios. Eight iron pour workshops ran on Tuesdays and Thursdays since May 20 . The students also practiced making molds and learned about pattern making and sand casting. The workshops prepared them to pour molten iron into scratch molds made by the festival goers.
“It was fantastic,” said LeAnna Farnelli, a sophomore of Elk Lake High School, who worked with a skimmer to help pour the iron out of the bucket. “We got to learn about the property of iron mold and saw how to use it as a career.”
This was Farnelli’s first time working with big scratch molds. Last year, she worked with smaller ones.
“We also saw sculptures made by artists who made a career out of art and sculpture,” she said.
Keystone College assistant professor of ceramics Jared Jaffe sold his pottery items, which he made from his Raku (a Japanese form of pottery) kiln at the festival. His items included repurposed beer bottles and hand blown bowls made from molten glass.
“It’s been growing every year,” Jaffe said about the festival. “Every year, we get more spectators. People want to be involved with it.”
Ceramic artist and substitute teacher in the Abington Heights school district, Kati Kameroski, was also present to talk to people about Raku pottery.
“It’s nice because other artists come in as one,” she said.
The Arts on Fire Festival started on June 6 with a display hosted by the AFA Gallery. The display was Iron Maidens, an exhibition of iron sculpture and drawings by British and American female sculptors.
“The Keystone Iron Works program is a wonderful program for everyone involved. The local students learn so much — not only about the basics of iron pouring but about the industrial history of our area,” said Fran Calpin, senior director of college relations at Keystone College. “It is also an honor for Keystone to have a role in the Arts on Fire Festival, which is a great annual community event for everyone.”