August 4, 2009


Public invited to iron pour

See metal take shape at Saturday’s Brockway show

IronJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland student Darla McGrath helps to stoke a pot furnace Wednesday while making iron objects from molten metal to be displayed at the Cortland Brockway Show on Saturday. Below, after cooling for a period, a piece of iron takes shape after being broken away from a cast.

SUNY Cortland professor Vaughn Randall is bringing his creativity to Main Street — getting students and residents involved with the making of iron metal art.
The assistant professor of sculpture works closely with the Cortland Downtown Partnership, developing programs that benefit both the city and the campus. He has been involved in the snow carving demonstration at the Chill-A-Bration winter festival as well as the “Downtown Roll’ steamroller art project.
“Vaughn’s commitment to enhance the community’s culture through the arts has been a tremendous asset to the revitalization of the downtown (area),” said Adam Megivern, executive director of the Cortland Downtown Partnership.
Randall is currently working with six Cortland County high school students and two Cortland Works Career Center Summer Youth Program participants as part of the SUNY Cortland and Cortland Downtown Partnership National Endowment for the Arts “Road Pour” and apprenticeship project.
This summer, Marathon High School students Alexandria Jones, James Courtney, Cody Tallett, Andrew McConnell, Jessica Heider, Cortland Jr.-Sr. High students Colin Heasley and Elisabeth Sprague and Tompkins Cortland Community College student Nichole Farley have been learning the art of the foundry trade under the tutelage of Randall and his primary assistant Darla McGrath. The apprenticeship program is currently preparing for a community participatory demonstration iron pour at the upcoming Brockway Truck Show.
Randall and his crew will be on hand with a furnace, heavy gloves and helmets and other gear, melting iron into a liquid form, and pouring it into molds with created patterns, all day Saturday in front of the former B.T. Jones Building, at the corner of Court and Main Street, Cortland, during the show, which runs 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Interested community members are encouraged to create their own designs for personalized commemorative iron tiles created on site. In addition to the “Road Pour” demonstration, Randall and his apprentices will unveil their works from the summer apprenticeship program the day of the event. Brockway commemorative items designed for the downtown streetscape and for sale to the community will be available during the festival. All proceeds from the sale of commemorative iron items will be shared by the Brockway Truck Show and the Cortland Downtown Partnership for future streetscape projects to compliment recent improvements such as new trash receptacles, pedestrian signage, flowers and planters.
Randall is a master of the foundry trade, fusing art and industry in wood and metal patternmaking. He has lived in predominantly metropolitan areas, such as Atlanta and Birmingham and has worked throughout the country while climbing the ranks from apprentice to journeyman. He now applies his knowledge as a master craftsman to his students at SUNY Cortland and Cortland County students through a newly formed apprenticeship program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
As technology in computer-aided industrial design continues to advance, Randall has found his trade becoming less and less common. In 1996 he co-created one of America’s premier cast iron art facilities by founding the Metal Arts Program at Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark in Birmingham, Ala. Supplementing the Metal Arts Program, the Sloss Summer Youth Apprenticeship Program was formed to teach the trade to a new generation. Inspired by his work there, Randall is continuing his dedication to community outreach in Cortland.
For more information, contact Adam Megivern, executive director of the Cortland Downtown Partnership at 607-753-4270 or email


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