Friday, July 4, 2014

VOLCANO FURNACE ERUPTS at Pedvale Open Air Art Museum, Latvia

Coral Lambert's Volcano Furnace erupted on 'JANI' the last day of Midsummer's June 23rd 2014 as part of the fire and iron performances at the 7th International Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art, Latvia.
The Volcano Furnace tapped out 200# of molten iron three times out of seperate tap holes into three large carved garnite boulders. The Earth Mound Furnace and Boulders will remain as an earthwork for visitors to Pedvale Sculpture Park to enjoy for years to come.  (photo by Laura Feldsberga)
Once the clay plug was removed from each tap hole Iron flowed through earthern clay tunnels emulating lava. Here you see Coral Lambert making the first tap near the 'Tree of Dawn' about to catch fire: it is a symbol of renewal and the coming of the new sun after midsummers, the time is about midnight, the performance ran for about an hour and a half during the darkest hours of the magical night.
Related to each tap there were choreographed performances going on in collaboration with the Volcano Furnace Iron Pour.  
'Tree of Dawn' by Danielle Jensen, (Canada) : accompanied by Lily Montgomery and Daniel Totten.
 'Forget Me Not Garden' planting by The Alzheimer's Glass and Iron: Rosemarie Oakman, Haley Jelinek and Elise Betrus.
'Flight of the Phoenix' by Jenny K. Hager-Vickery, Susanne Roewer, (Germany) Cynthia Handel and Andreas Glaser (Switzerland).  
Musical accompaniment was performed by Sarah Clover on vocals and Jeff Kalstrom on Bodiddly.
Coral Lambert was assisted by Ronda Phipps in the building and running of the Volcano Furnace as well as Alfred Students: Erik Nilson, Michelle Kweicen, Hannah Schilsky, Ripley Nichols, Becca Flis, Rose, Haley, Elsie, Dan and Lily. 
'Flight of the Phoenix' 
The 'Site + Action' iron pour performance was part of the all night midsummers celebration at Pedvāle Open-Air Art Museum in Latvia.
Special thanks to:
The 7th ICCCIA
Coral Lambert

Pedvāle Open-Air Art Museum
Ojars Arvids Feldbergs
Laura Feldberga
Laura Miglone

Alfred University's School of Art and Design
The National Casting Center Foundry @ Alfred
The Women's Leadership Center 
Naomi Winston Scholarship Award
Photo credits: Kristen Williams. Laura Feldsberga and Haley Jenelik

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

VOLCANO FURNACE : Pedvale Open Air Art Museum, Latvia

Working Maquette of Volcano Furnace: Fire Earth Work
'Volcano Furnace : A Fire Earthwork' by Coral Penelope Lambert will be built and operated during Midsummers as part of the 7th International Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art held at the Pedvāle Open-Air Art Museum in Latvia from June 19th through June 24th 2014.

Join us for the 'Blast Off' on the eve of June 23rd including fire performances:

'Volcano Furnace Firing' designed and operated by Coral Penelope Lambert with the assistance of the sparkling 'Iron Fire Spirits' Students from Alfred University National Casting Center Foundry : Ronda Phipps, Daniel Totten, Ripley Nichols, Hannah Schilsky, Michelle Kwiecien, Lily Montgomery and Erik Nilson.
'Tree of the Dawn' by Danielle Jenson.  
'Alzheimer's Iron Garden' by Rose Oakman, Haley Jenlinek and Elise Betrus. 
'Flight of the Phoenix' by Cynthia Handel, Suzzanne Roewer, Jenny Hager and Andreas Glaser. 

The theme for the 7th ICCCIA is Coalessence: Iron Forming Art, Ritual and Landscape, at the Pedvāle Open-Air Art Museum, reflecting the significance of the exchange and cultural coalescence, while emphasizing the integration of iron sculpture into the landscape and the realization of iron-based ritual performance art projects during the Jaņi 'midsummer' celebration. 

LANDSCAPE : The 'Volcano Furnace' is a 13ft earthwork and functioning iron furnace embracing the spirit of land and celebrating forces of nature. Built primarily of earth, clay, stone and wood I will be making a conscience effort to use appropriate technology and local materials. Construction of the interior of the furnace and earth moving will begin on site at Pedvale in early June. The 'Volcano Furnace' will be fired with coke and air, molten iron at temperatures up to 2700 farenhiet will flow from three channels into three molds cut from rock boulders. The boulders are sited at the front, left and right of the Volcano earth work. The Volcano Furnace will remain on site with the iron castings at the foot for visitors to the park to enjoy for years to come.

IRON FORMING ART : The 'Volcano Furnace' will be operated on June 23rd by Coral Lambert and her crew from The National Casting Center Foundry at Alfred University, New York to melt 900# of iron. The molten iron will flow out of three tunnels cut into the earth at the center of the Volcano, the iron will be cast into molds cut from stone boulders, the slabs of iron form diamond shapes speeding up the work of nature as crystals that have been form over eons. These slabs of diamond shaped iron will remain as an artifact of the event.

RITUAL : The 'Volcano Furnace' will provide a platform for an evening of performance and ritual during midsummer on June 23rd. As Iron and coke is charged it has to be carried up the mountainside, the effort is laborious and carried out by many 'spirits'. 'Climbing up the mountainside : We unfolded space together' is the act and art of charging melting and tapping the furnace choreographed into a dance of labor.

The story begins with an inspiration from Latvian Mythology based on Saule, the goddess of the sun and the 'Tree of the Dawn' choreographed by Danielle Jenson. Outside the garden a girl is lost as a metaphor for sick or dying. She finds guidance from the Volcano spirit to earn passage to the tree to find saule. To gain passage she must give offerings to the Volcano, she gives charges to the 'spirits' of the furnace. As she gets closer to completing her task her struggle becomes great, her binds are pulled.  When she is granted passage her struggles lighten momentarily. When she arrives at the tree she attempts to light a small fire to call saule. Her failure and dying is represented by spirits coming forward and pulling a layer off of her bodice and covering her with it. After she passes saule appears represented by the burning tree.

The garden to the right of the furnace where the 'Tree of the Dawn' is sited is also the site of blue flower plantings. The plantings take place throughout the charging of the furnace. The plantings are forget-me-nots a symbol of remembrance. This part of the performance is enacted by the Alzhemiers Iron Project. Spectators are invited to plant a seeds in remembrance of a loved one.

The first tap and flow of molten iron from the Volcano Furnace will light the 'Tree of the Dawn' whilst also casting the diamond slab of iron on the garden side, bringing the earth and Saule to life. Plantings begin in the garden.

The second tap of molten iron will flow to the front of the Volcano Furnace, bringing forth spectators, inviting them to warm themselves and warm food and water on the slab.

The third and final tap of molten iron casts into the overflowing slabs of rock to the right of the furnace as the base of the steps. During which a procession begins, a rising of the 'Flight of the Phoenix' choreographed and designed by Cynthia Handel, Jenny Hager and Suzzane Roewer. The 8ft phoenix references the Mercurial Bird, a symbol for the volatility of alchemy and revered for its profound powers. Its wings will spread as if for the first time in a thousand years and dancers will emerge, awakening the bird from the ashes. Equipped with the token symbols of the mercurial bird, the will give reinvigorate its magic, power and presence. The phoenix in all its glory atop the Volcano Furnace will eventually be ignited and become engulfed in flames. As the phoenix burns away, dancers will emerge from the
furnace to create a fire dance using fire fans as wings. When the fire dancers
wings burn out, the 'spirits' will collect remains such as ashes to be placed on the last hot iron diamond slab.

All again is calm, the dormant 'Volcano Furnace' earthwork will remain a charged site along with skeletal remnants of the 'Tree of the Dawn' and 'The Flight of the Pheonix' at Pedvale Open Air At Museum for future visitors to enjoy.

1st BLAST OFF : WORKING MAQUETTE by Coral Lambert on Feb 15th 2014 at the National Casting Center Foundry, Alfred University, New York.

Cast Iron Sculpture and Working Maquette of teh 'Volcano Furnace' with crew at the National Casting Center Foundry at Alfred University.

Plasticene Model of an initial rendition of the Volcano Furnace Earthwork
Phoenix Rising mechanism
Phoenix engulfed in flames at the top of the furnace

'Tree of the Dawn' costume by Danielle Jenson

'Flight of the Phoenix' Fire Dancer Costume by Cynthia Handel

We hope you can join us! The International Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art at Pedvale provides an unprecedented  cultural exchange between the international cast iron sculpture movement in contemporary art, and the Latvian academic and professional sculpture tradition and community. The mission of the International Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art is to “create an international platform for the exploration and practice of contemporary cast iron sculpture and to inspire global participation in the aesthetic, conceptual, cultural, historical, and technical dialogue on contemporary cast iron art.” 

Founded in 1988, Six successive conferences have occurred once every four years encompassing the scope, history and aesthetic possibilities of the cast iron medium to the creative practice of contemporary artists.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Salem 2 Salem : Germany




Nature is wild, unpredictable and ultimately beautiful. A punchcard is a stiff piece of paper that contains digital information represented by the presence or absence of holes in predetermined positions. It was an early system used to control textile looms and mechanical computers for input, and processing, it is a system to aid reproducing the same affect again and again thus mimicking what takes place naturally in the world around us such as when a spider weaves its web.


I utilize the Sculpture Studio as a laboratory to examine how things exist: I am exploring the ‘nature’ of various materials in a union of concept and process. My investigations manifest themselves through heat ‘n’ treat practices such as molding, melting, casting, forging, welding and fabricating.  Metal is my  ‘prima materia’, and I regard it as a living material, it breathes, oxidizes, and grows, emerging from the furnace, the forge and the mould … raw and elemental as it was originally raised from the depths of the earth.
The metal I utilized to make ‘Natur-Lochkarten’ is reclaimed scrap steel from a local scrap yard in Salem, Germany which had been used and most probably discarded by the building industry, some of it was from a demolition site as it was almost mangled beyond recognition. Originally the new steel had been shaped into standard stock sizes such as I Beam, Square, Round, Solid, Angeline, Rebar, Threaded Rod, and Pipe: these are manufactured in large industrial steel mills, using intense heat they are taken through a journey, once molten, stretched, shaped, twisted and bundled they are cooled and stacked into the many different but standard lengths and thicknesses. Much of this steel provides the foundation and structure of our built environment as we experience it today such as roads, buildings and bridges.

Steel is processed Iron, Iron is a natural material found in the form of Iron Ore buried deep within the earth. The ore is basically rock with veins of iron, it is mined and then in the belly heat of a furnace at 2400 F the rock begins to bleed out the liquid iron which will produce ingots of pig iron. The pig iron ingots are melted down again and used to make Steel for constructing and welding as well as Grey Iron for melting and casting. As well as pig iron, recycled scrap iron is also used.

Using the scaled down industrial process of heat forging with a power hammer the reclaimed steel from the Salem scrap yard was yet again transformed as I worked it with the element of fire one more time.


Taking inspiration from the reoccurring structures and forms observed in nature : I designed modules in the form of a six spoked wheel, creating a hexagon : with my parameters set each module could be made in the same manner to the next similar to the concept of the punchcard system.  Through the union of concept and process I began with the random selection of steel stock for each spoke, unique hexagons resulted much like the patterns of a snowflake.    

I measured and cut with the best precision possible each section of steel into the desired length. At this juncture all of the spokes started out the same length. The end of each spoke was heated in the forge to temperatures between 800 to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit, once ‘cherry red’ the spoke was removed and put under the power hammer in anticipation of being compacted and flattened. The power hammer is a mechanical forging hammer that uses a non-muscular source of power to raise the hammer ready for striking; in this case the power hammer speed is controlled by using a foot pedal. Once the hot steel is removed from the forge and placed under the hammer I control the flattening and stretching of the spoke end but there is an element of nature at play.  Fluctuations in the temperature of the forge, variances in the thickness of the metal and the speed of my actions as I twisted and pulled the length of steel in conjunction with the hammering action of the machinery resulted in eccentricities, of which I anticipated and intentionally manipulated.
Through this heat ‘n’ treat process the industrial steel stock sections began to revert back to their original state of belonging to the earth, the recognizable shape of the standard stock IBeams and Rebar started to disappear revealing evidence of the fires that formed it.     
With the hexagon formation as the focal point of the modular system, I pinned and hinged the many parts together with a combination of heat forged rivets and ratcheted machine bolts. This accumulative structure is now a semblance of the whole.  Reminiscent of the links connecting a community together: it is a convergence of art and engineering; it can act as a catalyst for ideas, a structure for a skin: a space for relaxation, education or entertainment. It is a place for the mind and the body, it is a hearth.          
The work articulates a value towards natural phenomena and a fascination for Iron’s historical virtue as the plastic of the Industrial Revolution. Investigating the ‘plasticity’ of Iron, the twisted industrial forms in ‘Natur-Lochkarten’ alludes to architectural wrought iron as well as the geodesic dome but rather my endeavor here is to capture our imagination in the environment in which we exist. 

Coral Lambert


International Sculptor Coral  Penelope Lambert studied at Central School of Art, London, Canterbury College of Art, Kent and received her MFA in Sculpture from Manchester in 1990. Specializing in cast metal sculpture as an International Research Fellow Artist at the University of Minnesota from 95 -98. She is currently Head Professor of Sculpture and Director of the National Casting Centre Foundry at Alfred University, New York, USA. 

Portrait photo by Ronnie Farley

As a recent recipient of the Gottlieb Foundation Award and The Joan Mitchell Grant I am recognized for working in cast iron as well as large scale outdoor pieces, exhibitions include: ‘The Avant Garden’ at The Barbican Center, London, Franconia Sculpture Park, MN, ‘Convergence’ in Providence, ‘Grounds For Sculpture’, NJ, ‘Pier Walk’, Chicago, ‘Atmosferric’ Salem Art Works, NY, Pirrkala in Finland, Huian China, The National Metals Museum, Memphis, ‘Nature Rules’, Governors Island, NY and ‘IronStone’ at Kidwelly Castle, Wales. 


The life size working model of ‘Natur-Lochkarten’ was produced in residence at Salem Castle Blacksmiths Forge during the Salem 2 Salem Symposium 2010. A maquette, video and stills will remain at the Castle with the Sculpture.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


The ability to Ignite … to dynamically utilize fire as a tool … in order for things to be better, go faster and farther has been a measure of society’s capacity to flourish.
 Fire Drawing @ Franconia
From the first campfire to our twentieth century world … fire has been harnessed, enabling survival by way of cooking and heating but it has also led to ravishing the planet of its resources created by greater and greater need or should I say greed for fuel. Fire Eating Dance @ New Mexico
 ‘Prytotechnic production required higher and higher temperatures and more and more fuel, than the heat of the campfire which typically burns at about 600f. Hearths, Kilns and Furnaces that intensified fire to above 800 followed then super heated forges catapulted the technology and manufacture of sophisticated tools, weapons, and jewelry. It enabled the creation of coins - metal money. As is stated by Edwin Black in his book ‘Internal Combustion’, ‘Smelting enabled civilization itself, it was the technological font from which everything else flowed.’  Molten Metal Overflow
As an artist I use : Fire as a transformative agent aiding the events: which are tantalizing, in flux, action, vibration, and residue. Operating with these elements has allowed me attempts at capturing a sense of vitality, cause and effect in my work. It is a tool that I repeatedly come back to. 
  'MothRA; Personal Iron Cupolette
The preparation of this blog gave me an opportunity to review my work over the past 20 or so years and I have selected a few pieces that deal with ideas that I continue to return to in new work. They are in no particular order.
 'Celestial Spheres' Cast Iron '97
This is an early piece as with many of my early metal casting experiments I spent a period of time, about three to four years researching and developing the use of low tech processes where I could embrace the unexpected and explore materials shifts, using ancient processes.  'USUK Iron Symposium 1998
In this piece I used the earth as a mold …  .. I made a positive from another artists negative. As earth was dug, I would build up.
The mound created by the other earth work was a center dome, a burial mound where the event was hidden once the grass grew back over, It would dissapear. I was exploring the notion of a grounded central axis, say an earth with an orbiting force, the mound became the earth by which my piece was conceptually tethered to. It resulted in a marker for the activity.  Burn't Sand, Gold Leaf, Mud + Cast Iron
It brings together concepts of duality: The investigation of many things and the contemplation of the mystery; the object is physical and static, yet it resonates with life, resiliently maintaining the presence of the process that created it.

 Cast Copper + Aluminum - Levitated
A Magnet. I am fascinated by how a physical, relatively inanimate object like a rock, tree or even a farmers mechanically produced hay bale can have a metaphysical presence.  
I have come to the conclusion that this probably comes about in many different ways far too complex to go into here but there are two areas of which I think have a greater affect on this phenomena and that drive my sculptural investigations. 
 International Sculpture Symposium, New Orleans
One being how an object grows and forms; whether it be the subtle strands of a blade of grass, the intense layering and overflowing of volcanic lava or the diverse and complex materialization of the constantly shifting clouds. I am referring here to an experience on a mesoscale: which refers to a human scale interaction with our environment.   Graphite, Cast Iron, Shotgun House
I have referenced megalithic stones and meteorites in my work, comets and meteorites formed by ancient celestial fire have been revered as objects of great power.  Up until the middle ages it was a common belief that the sky was a canopy of solid matter, bits of which would occasionally fall off leaving on the ground mysterious black stones. My interest between influx and static, transient and permanent, between earth and sky as metaphors for the mind and body are touched upon in this installation. A giant boulder slotted into an impossibly small shotgun house in New Orleans.      
Aside from how things come into being and how they may exist …. The other factor in the contemplation of the mystery comes about by our perception of the object and the thoughts we impute upon any given object such as the perfect crystal forms said to be created when monks bless water with chants and positive thoughts or the concept of reshaping objects using the mind’s energies such as Urigela’s spoon bending as referenced in my ‘diving rod series’. I find these sorts of natural phenomena totally intriguing, a shaft of light, a glint from a jewel, a shadow in an enchanted wood, an enigmatic broom leaning against a doorway, an autumn bush seemingly ablaze on a hilltop or a rainbows reflection in the mirror of a lake, these things cannot be quantified in the object.

'Diving Rods' - Magnets, Cast Iron + Steel
The question is can we ape nature in a way that does not merely illustrate it, and why are we driven to do this, this is what I play with in my work: to be closer, to be nearer, to experience, to attempt to make work that exudes that same beauty and awe. 
'Teardrop of Earth's Magic Memory' volcanic rock + cast iron
 As seen in Pier Walk, Chicago
Maybe everyone should try and make a mountain, much like in close encounters ….  This is my mountain: a mirage, illusory and unattainable. After making it I realized that it had many personal and universal references, It is about dreamtime: the original title was ‘mount meru’ the name given to the mythical mountain of Indian Culture, which refers to a place that brings universes together, the universes of mind and body, sky and earth, the spiritual and the material. I thought that ‘Meru’ was too grand of an association in relation to my scale and that this is but a mere Nuggette.
The work alludes to Ayres Rock and brings to mind the Australian Aboriginal belief in ‘Song Lines’ the act of singing things into existence, an act similar to that of chanting in rhythm with the pumping bellows of a furnace to bring forth new metal.
 Also shown at Governors Island, NY
The sensual and voluptuous form of the sculpture derives from the creation myth surrounding Aphrodites Rock , the birthplace of the goddess of love on the island of Cyprus; a place I have visited and spent time exploring.
I choose forged copper for the construction of this piece as with most of my practice the direction is to simultaneously combine the concepts with the materials, scale and construction methods in complimentary relationship to itself and its environment.
Cyprus is synonymous with copper smelting. In Latin copper was known as ‘cyprium’ or ‘metal of Cyprus.  Not only was the island bountiful in copper it also had the fuel in the form of wood to smelt it.  More than twenty thousand pieces of copper slag were unearthed near the fragments of a single copper mine in the mountainside.
       Appalacian Mountains
Shape Shifter 1
There is a parallel that can be drawn between the mountain and the furnace as a kind of matrix. In the eyes of many ancient cultures a cave in the side of a mountain was an entrance into a sacred world, to enter into the cave to reap the ores was akin to stealing the unripe fruit of mother nature for it was believed that if it were left there then all would mature to gold. The ores are then taken to the furnace, an apparatus that could speed up the work of nature.
Shape Shifter 2
The ‘Shape Shifter’ series of sculptures deals with ideas of this containment, resonance and metamorphosis, the forms themselves allude to a cracking open, they have an outer shell and an inner world. The spectator can interact and be encompassed by sitting inside.

The dynamic forces that are evident in nature are difficult to map out but they can be given a chance to manifest and teased out within the making of the piece through working physically, grappling with material and process. Through working directly with melting and casting metal inparticular I can respond to this idea of of transience. A liquid state forming into a solid state with weight and permanence: like wood, metal can be experienced as a living material as it breaths, oxidizes, and grows. The transitory action of molten metal captured in time signifies a metamorphosis. This work in the studio is challenging, sometimes awkward and difficult with spontaneous and uncontrolled results.  The idea of speeding up the work of nature is historically connected to the story of metal casting and use of fire which I will continue to discuss in future articles.

Coral Penelope Lambert