Dec. 14, 2009
Elizabeth Klipp, 404-413-1356
Rain and low temperatures didn’t dampen spirits Saturday, Dec. 12 at one of Georgia State University’s most beloved traditions, the Holiday Iron Pour.
Faculty, staff, university supporters and their families gathered at the sculpture studio building on Edgewood Street to watch flowing molten metal form custom-made creations.
“The words Iron Pour made me want to come out,” said T.D. Murphy, who was scratching a horse design into his mold. “The two words sounded so awesome together and the reality is even better.”
The Holiday Iron Pour, which began in 1972, is now the second oldest public iron pour in the United States.
It all started when Georgia State sculpture professor George Beasley noticed his students creating holiday presents instead of their final projects. He made them a deal: If they finished their work, he’d keep the furnace going after the semester so they could make gifts.
“And that became kind of like a party, and it grew and grew and it’s gotten so big,” said Beasley, who was overseeing five furnaces and close to 50 workers on Saturday.
For a small donation, attendees could carve a unique design into a scratch mold, a tile-shaped sand block with a blank surface. The mold was then put onto the “line,” where workers poured florescent-orange molten iron into it. After a bit of cooling, the souvenir was ready for individuals to take home.
“Here it comes,” exclaimed 7-year-old Tannus Vollmer, as the 2,700 degree Fahrenheit iron was poured from the ladle over his scratch mold. “I think it looks like lava.”
This year’s event was particularly significant because it was the last before Professor Beasley retires from Georgia State to pursue research projects and work on personal pieces.
“I’m a little sentimental,” Beasley said. “Many of my friends from across the country and state came to support me. It’s the old family reunion.”
Beasley joined the faculty at GSU in 1970 and helped grow the Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design, particularly the sculpture program. He has been a professor of sculpture and drawing as well as a graduate advisor for art school.
Even with all his responsibilities at GSU and beyond, Beasley continued to create pieces of art, roughly 40 indoor sculptures and a dozen outdoor works, inspired by personal links to Celtic history and the iron foundries of Scotland and the United States
Beasley’s works are featured across the United States and world, from his “Five Points Monument” in the middle of downtown Atlanta to his “Boundaries,” a performance and installation at Clashnettie, Glen Deskry, Scotland.
“When people have asked what I do, I tell them I’m a professor of sculpture,” he said. “My trade is academia. But now is the time to let other people come up through the ranks.”