For the past few months, our craftspeople at Polich Tallix have had the absolute pleasure of training two college students, both of whom are determined and hardworking individuals. It was clear from day one they possessed the patience and desires to explore all aspects of foundry work, from mold making and wax rework to finishing and patina. Before they head back to start the fall semester, we asked each of them a few questions about their internship experiences.
Hannah Levy is entering her senior year at Cornell University and will graduate with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts. Femi Ibitoye is studying Architecture at Virginia Tech, with two more years ahead of him as an undergrad.
Polich Tallix: What was the most useful skill you feel you learned this summer?
Hannah: The skills I plan immediately to use I learned by working in the mold department. Making a mold for wax is the same as a mold for any other material; however the master craftspeople at the foundry have developed a process that is both efficient and exact. I’ve learned new techniques from them every day. I also enjoyed learning how to replicate fine metal texture in the finishing department. Although I am not sure when I will next have access to facilities that allow for casting in metal, the skills necessary for fine metal textures are relevant to a variety of modes of production. The finisher’s specialized tools for each unique texture are an extraordinary example of the problem solving necessary to fabricate at such a high level. I hope to be able to replicate this specificity of technique in my own practice.
Polich Tallix: What drew you to metal casting to begin with?
Femi: The need to satisfy my curiosity of how wax is transformed to metal. I learned the theory of the lost wax process a while ago. When I was 11, I first came across the words ‘cire perdue’ which is French for ‘lost wax’ and I imagined what the process would be like, but I still had a couple of unanswered questions until recently.
Polich Tallix: What was your favorite project you had the opportunity to work on?
Hannah: I most enjoyed working on the Bruce High Quality Foundation’s 12’ tall inflatable Scab Rat cast in bronze. I have been following their work for a while and it was exciting to have the opportunity to help produce a piece of theirs. Since the Rat sculpture has been on view outside The Lever House in New York City, where I grew up, I have been receiving dozens of photos of friends and family members standing in front of the Rat. One of my favorite parts of working in the foundry this summer has been being able to watch master craftsmen work on pieces by artists such as Jasper Johns, Matthew Barney, George Condo, and Richard Prince. I look forward to seeing pieces that I witnessed being assembled in museums and galleries for years to come.
Femi: Ed Kopel’s MTA Shaker Chairs in bronze. I liked the intricate details from the fabric used to weave the back and seat of each chair. I very much enjoyed working around people with a common goal, where the next person is waiting for you to finish your part of the process so they can contribute their own skills to further progress each project. Yours is one task in the very big picture that is casting metal.
Polich Tallix: How do you plan on using the skills you’ve acquired in your future?
Hannah: I hope to use all of the skills I have acquired this summer in my own future practice. The craftpeople here have a way of looking at a challenge with complete attention to detail and incredible efficiency. I hope to be able to adopt this attitude as a means to work through my own fabrication challenges.
Femi: As a prospective architect, I realize that I might not be involved in the design process from start to finish. I’ve learned that it’s about what others bring to the table through collaboration, like I have witnessed here. This is what makes the world tick, the melding of minds. Here at the foundry I have been introduced to a broad spectrum of materials that I never had worked with before. When I return to school, you can bet I probably won’t be working in just wood and cardboard anymore.