Tarleton Castle successfully tests portable foundry

Mar 6, 2019

BATH — Community members and friends of Tarleton Castle Arts (TCA) attended a casting of bronze sculptures at the emerging arts residency center, located on Foster Hill in Bath.

Easton resident and experienced sculpture artist, Cassidy Rehl oversaw the project. Rehl, an engineer at DCI Furniture in Lisbon, learned foundry work at the National Casting Center located at Alfred University SUNY in Alfred, N.Y.

On Feb. 24, Rehl built a portable foundry using a 50-gallon drum, a crucible, and propane torches with the immediate goal of executing a test pour and a long-term goal of offering sculpture and metal casting instruction at the arts center. Aaron Cockrell and Melissa Elander, both of Easton, assisted Rehl throughout the day. Opel Morris and Jude Collopy, sculpture art majors and seniors at Maine College of Art (MECA), traveled to Bath from Portland, Maine to assist with the weekend’s events.

Despite the challenge of unusually strong winds, low temperatures, and over-pressurized fuel tanks, the team of five was able to successfully pour molten bronze into seven handcrafted molds and scratch blocks. Several board members celebrated the success of this event, as foundry work fits the long-term vision and mission statement of Tarleton Castle Arts.

Initially conceived as a livable sculpture by Dailey, Tarleton Castle has grown into something much larger than the initial vision. Construction on the castle began in 2004. By 2015, Tarleton Castle Arts became a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Today, it offers residencies to college level artists who learn real-world building skills by directly contributing to the construction of both the castle and its campus and assisting with community workshops.

According to founding executive director, Tim Dailey, “Our first bronze pour is just the beginning of what will become a program for iron and aluminum casting as well.”

Such offerings at Tarleton Castle not only provide a place for art majors to create beyond the limitations of most university settings, but it also produces interim education before graduates advance in their careers and secure their own facilities.

In September 2018, Tarleton Castle received a $25,000 grant from the Heath Family Charitable Fund at the North Texas Community Foundation with the specific goal to complete Studio in the Woods, an integral part of the TCA residency program. Construction has already begun on the 2400 square foot, two-story complex that will feature a sizable flex-space studio, three individual studios with decks, and a dining/conference room. Studio in the Woods is slated to be the hub of a series of independent outbuildings, where the primary structure provides the flexibility to host such “cold” activities as design, layout, mold development, and model making. The smaller “hot” work studios will feature necessary fire safety requirements to do welding, furnace work, and kiln firing – the techniques most commonly associated with metal, glass, and ceramic arts.

Dailey says he has seen a need for more art education in the north country and quickly recognized the immense potential of the castle. Volunteer Weekends began in 2014, and have become highly successful in not only achieving great strides in campus and castle development, but also in bringing artists, members of the building trade, and community members together. 2018 welcomed the first season of active residencies, and a limited number of slots are now available for art majors to participate in the 2019 residency program.

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