The Eutectic Arts program expands creative learning beyond the drawing board.
A "scratch-block" is a block of resin-bonded sand, with a blank indent on one face. The sand is hard enough to hold its form, but soft enough to carve with a metal tool. Lines and shapes can be "scratched" into the surface, creating a low relief.
Students design their piece by drawing, writing, and/or working from an existing picture or template. That image gets transferred to the sand, and then carved with varying thickness and at different depths to make it three-dimensional.
SET UP EQUIPMENT
Our custom built equipment is designed to be safe, inclusive, and portable! There are specific safety features incorporated into the construction of each element, allowing for ease of use and accessibility. Everything breaks down into manageable pieces (size and weight) for transport, then gets reconstructed onsite.
Students work as a team to unload and move parts to the pouring area. Once everything in place, they construct and assemble the furnace, ladle, and other tools. This involves fitting and matching up parts, coordinated lifting, and fastening / tightening all hardware.
Aluminum melts at 1100 degrees (F).
It takes about 45 minutes for our furnace to reach that temperature.
At the start, we pre-load aluminum ingots into the furnace. As it heats up and those first pieces start to melt, students "charge" more metal by feeding ingots through the hole at the top of the furnace. Once full and completely melted, one person tilts the furnace, and two people receive the molten aluminum in a pot with handle bars called a "ladle."
As that ladle team goes off to pour molds, more metal is charged into the furnace to start melting the next batch.
The scratch-block molds are laid out on our pouring platform (a stable surface and optimal height). The pour team brings the ladle full of metal to the molds. To pour the first mold, they tip the ladle slowly and molten aluminum flows into the block, filling the recessed area that was carved. The team proceeds down the line, pouring molds one by one.
When the ladle is getting empty, it's time to go back to the furnace, switch teams, decant more metal, and the new group is off to pour!
Once the aluminum has solidified in the mold, the casting gets flipped out of the sand. There is residue and color distortion on the surface, which gets washed off with water and cleaned with a wire brush.
After the metal is clean, there are a variety of tools and techniques with which to finish the surface, as well as hanging or mounting options.
Every student walks away with their own unique, handmade aluminum sculpture!