We went to an iron pour at a state park. It was free, but you could buy a scratchblock to make a mold. My mom panicked at the thought of her work being cast in iron and had to go listen to the bluegrass band for a while.
I didn't know we'd be making scratch blocks so I didn't have any other ideas in mind. The people in charge of the blocks lent us pencils, paper, a 10-penny nail and some small chisels, and reminded us that any letters and numbers had to be backwards in the mold to come out right. The blocks were some kind of a hard compressed sand that sent black dust everywhere when carved. When I handed my block in the lady taking them said "We've never had kitties before!" and I was like, really? 'cause they seemed like an obvious choice to me.
The ranger talking us through the pour said the furnace heated up to 3000F and would melt hair (she said the guy on the platform didn't have any). The furnace was heated with a propane flame thrower and once it was hot enough the flamethrower was pulled away and replaced by fans. The circulating air kept up the heat. When the furnace was hot enough it was filled with scrap iron and coke, in layers.
About this time it started to rain, a good soaking rain. I was able to hide my camera under the plastic bag that held my knitting, so knitting saved the day again. We eventually were able to get under the eaves of the shed where the molds were being poured–unfortunately I would up next to a whiny teenager who was horribly offended that he had to be out in the rain, even though he'd been under the eave since the rain started and was bone dry, unlike my folks and me, who were wet to our nether garments, the big sissy.
Melted iron was poured into a ladle, which was carried into the sheds to fill the molds.
Once the molds were full they were taken off to the side to cool, then the molds were broken and the iron plaques given back to their makers.
I have to scrub it with some steel wool and coat it with something to keep it from rusting. Once all the molds were full the furnace was emptied:
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