April 21, 2023

National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art and Practices


Form 3D Foundry is thrilled to announce that we attended this years 2023 National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art and Practices— NCCCIAP, located at the Historic Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama.


Form 3D associate Max Rawlings took his knowledge of iron casting and our pattern making processes to Birmingham to share possibilities with cohorts.

Max Rawling, holding the Tractor Toolbox Lid he cast in iron at this years NCCCIAP.

The vast majority of Forms 3D’s patterns get cast in bronze, so Iron casting was new territory for us. At the conference, it was a privilege to be able to connect with artists from around the globe, learn more about working with iron, and share our background in bronze sculpture and 3D printing with the iron community.


During our time in Alabama we were able to cast our first iron piece for a client! Our goal was to create a replica of an antique Tractor Toolbox Lid that we 3D scanned and printed at our shop for Erl Mclaughlin of Sunrise Iron. Before the conference, we wax infused the printed Toolbox Lid pattern, tooled the wax, had it dipped in a ceramic shell, and did a high temperature firing of the mold — or burnout, which hardened the ceramic shell and burned out the wax and acrylic print material.  Max brought the hollow ceramic shell with him that was prepared for the molten iron to be poured into its cup and gates— connecting to the main form.


Take a look at the photos below to see the finished Iron Toolbox Lid created with the help of the NCCCIAP Community!



The National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art and Practices (NCCCIAP) is a Biennial convergence of typically over 400 attendees from around the globe. This year’s Conference, Shift Change, was conceptually based on where the future of cast iron is headed. The conference allowed the community an opportunity to connect with like minded artists and professionals in the field, learning more about what it means to use cast iron as an artistic medium.

Cast Iron Artwork made at Sloss Furnaces, photographed by Max on his Trip.

The SLOSS Furnaces National Historic Landmark, which sponsors an active arts program focused on metal sculpture, has a rich industrial heritage. Its origin story revolves around a wealth of knowledge and experiences shared over the years that can help us to learn the technical skills it takes to work with Cast Iron. With new knowledge, and hands on Casting experience, we can offer technical  advancement to the Ironworking community. We are excited to integrate what we learned about cast iron into our sculptural repertoire.

Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham Alabama. The cast iron process explained.
A photo of the Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama.

From 1882 to 1970 Sloss Furnaces made iron at their 32-acre blast furnace plant. The longest continually running blast furnace in Birmingham’s History. The plant became obsolete and was closed in 1971 and reopened in 1983 as a museum and National Historic

Landmark. It includes two 400-ton blast furnaces and forty other buildings. Since its inception, Birmingham has been a foundry town, an industrial center, and the world’s largest producer of cast iron pipe. It was once also the largest manufacturer of pig iron in the world.


cast iron furnace heating up the metal and casting iron artwork from a mold
Working with molten Iron in one of the handmade furnaces.

The Metal Arts Program was started in 1985, it has since offered workshops, exhibitions, and conferences to educate the community on forging, fabricating, and casting — all things related to metal working. Cast Iron remains at the forefront with emphasis on its versatility as a sculpture medium.


In 1988 and 1994, Sloss hosted the first and second International Conferences on Contemporary Cast Iron Art. The Biennial National Conference — NCCCIAP has been organized and hosted at Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham since 1997. The furnaces remain just as they were in the late 19th century, regarded as a monument to the industrial revolution and they are used by the Metal Arts Program to keep tradition and history alive. 


Learn more about the history of the Birmingham Industrial District by planning an in person visit to the site, or by checking out:
www.SlossMetalArts.com, www.slossfurnaces.com/history,
& this informational youtube video!