By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
“Peachy Keen” will debut Friday at Mesalands Community College’s 17th annual Iron Pour.
The nine-foot tall coke-burning, iron-melting furnace will replace the usual two cupolas that produce red-hot liquid metal for the annual fine-art event that runs through Saturday at Mesalands Community College.
Peachy Keen’s debut will occur at 11:30 a.m. Friday, the launch of the iron pour’s main event, the melting and pouring of iron to be poured into molds to become sculptures.
For the crew of backstage volunteers who hammer cast iron into pieces about the size of a smart phone, Peachy Keen might mean less shattering.
The big furnace can melt down a four-cylinder engine block in one piece, according to Peachy Keen’s owner, Donnie King, who hauled the furnace from Houston, Texas, for the Mesalands event.
D’Jean Jawrunner, who has coordinated the event since it began 17 years ago, said that the furnace may not be a labor saver, however.
To get heavier pieces into the furnace, someone has to hoist them to the top and put them in, she said, and that won’t be easy.
“What you get in one area, you have to give in another,” she said.
Most of the 30 students and artists participating in the iron pour from as far away as Connecticut and Alaska had arrived on Monday and the odor of melting wax filled the Mesalands foundry’s gymnasium-size work room.
Most of the professional and budding artists who participate in the iron pour were molding, carving and melting brown wax into shapes and images that the iron eventually will assume after it has melted and solidified.
In the “lost wax” process these artists employ, the wax figures are then covered in a plaster-like mixture to make molds. The molds are then heated so the wax melts, leaving a space to be filled with red liquid iron.
Jawrunner said visitors are welcome to watch the preparations all week at the foundry, which is next door to the North American Wind Research and Training Center about a block south of Historic Route 66 on 11th Street, Tucumcari.