My business partner, John, and I both love the casting process. Though he favors bronze, I am an iron lover, enjoying the rough, unrefined, elemental qualities of working in Fe, iron, ferrum, atomic number 26.

CastingMolten iron flowing into the crucible

Iron is the element that makes up most of what we know of as Earth, of even stars, for that matter. Without iron, our human bodies would not function properly. Too much iron and our biology is equally compromised.

SkimmingRemoving the impurities

My life as alchemist has me less interested in turning dross into gold and greater inclination toward understanding the facts and metaphors of metals themselves.

Even my surname, Stern, which in its German origins means star, leads me to the elemental. Maybe I am, as a star myself, simply incapable of veering from iron and from the poetry and the prose of the Periodic Table of Elements- a document that ought to be as familiar to each of us as the Constitution or Bill of Rights for what it reveals of the most indispensable connections.

​Slag - "Stony waste matter separated from metals during the smelting or refining of ore."​

The iron pour that introduced me to my business partner, and catapulted me into the cosmos, and toward building the better athanor, and begat the transformation of passion, artistry, and skill, into a business, also connects me to others who not only have the passion to create but to alter, heal, and look inward at the same moment that they point outward. When those of us magnetized by iron reconnect, at our annual gathering of the tribe, it is deeper than a simple opportunity to make art for a week. There is history and growth, understanding, support, a rich exchange of interior and exterior stimuli. We become new in gathering and reviewing where we have been. Not unlike analysis, keeping a notebook, or the best of relationships.

Casting (to defile Sherwood Anderson) is not to make saleable objects but to save yourself.

Images included are from the annual Mesalands Community College Iron Pour by Claudette Jocelyn Stern