“It’s an art, not a science,” studio manager Evie Watts said. “It will pour when it’s ready.”
Artists decked in protective leathers and helmets will use a hammer to open the clay plug at the front of the furnace, where the metal will then shoot out. As much as 150 pounds of metal pours out at once. A large ladle is used to catch the metal, which burns at 3,000 degrees.
Tapping, the name for puncturing the plug, is the most exciting part, said Jarvis. The excitement continues throughout the night, as the second furnace gets lit around 4 p.m.
The second furnace, which Watts said is a new feature of this year’s pour, is specially for scratchblocks. Scratchblocks can be made by anyone attending, and all it requires is a little imagination.
First, the metal is poured into square-shaped sand molds. Then, various kinds of tools can be used to scratch a design into the metal.
“Scratchblocks are incredible,” Watts said. “It is absolutely mind-blowing, the variety of things people can dream of to scratch into a block.”
Scratchblocks are not only an interactive part of the event — they are also one of the reasons the event can occur. Watts said the scratchblocks, which can be made for $40, are an essential form of fundraising for Liberty Arts.
Besides watching and making art, community members will find food trucks and drinks at the event.
Erin Kauffman, executive director of Durham Central Park, said Route Bistro and Ponysaurus Brewing will be returning. Other food trucks to expect at the event include Bulkogi Korean BBQ, Chez Moi, 2ChefsOnTheGo and Bull City Ciderworks.
Watts said the event is the most dramatic at night, and the drama doesn’t stop with the iron pouring. The event will also feature fire breathers and music from Batalá Durham, a branch of a Brazilian samba reggae group.
The final and most-anticipated part of the event are the reaction molds.
Similar to scratchblocks, the metal is poured into a mold, but the result is something entirely different. The reaction molds are made of wood, which reacts with the metal and blows up in a fireworks-like display.
Watts said some reaction molds are specifically made for performance, but after the explosion, the metal picks up the textures of the wood and creates a unique and beautiful finished product.
Kauffman and Watts said anybody in the community is welcome to come, whether they choose to eat, drink, make art or just watch.
“It feels like this deeply human thing to do to be together around fire,” Kauffman said. “It’s incomparable to any other events we do here.”