Aluminum Pour Workshop 2015-16

Local artist Keith Kaziak was awarded a Reach for the Stars grant from the Wausau School Foundation in January of 2015.  Through this grant Keith will work as an artist-in-residence with the Wausau East Sculpture class from April 20th - May 20th.  He will be teaching students how to create a poured metal sculpture to be permanently installed on school grounds.  Students will get to experience the important role of an artist in our community firsthand.

Each student will create their own relief carved into a rammed sand tile mold.  Aluminum will be poured and cast into each mold at live demonstration during C.A.F.E. on Wednesday, May 13th from 5-8 PM in front of school.

Keith started his residency with a slide presentation; sharing his education, artwork, & career.  He is a graduate of Wausau East High School and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts through University of Wisconsin Marathon County and the University of Minnesota.  Keith is currently a working artist with a studio on the east-side of Wausau, WI.  Not only was Keith once a Lumberjack; he was also a student of mine.  That has made his desire to collaborate with me and my current students all the more special.

"I believe that visual arts can lead to great change.  Armed with that belief, my intention in creating the residency and workshop was to build on the skills the students are currently being taught as well as to develop their personal aesthetic and expose them to creative opportunities within their community.  The objective of the project was also to show them the value and importance of the confluence of visual arts and the local community to enable them to become the next generation of leaders through visual arts."  -Keith Kaziak

More of Keith's work can be viewed @ www.
Keith has exhibited his work extensively.  One of his works (below) was recently selected to be on exhibit in the Stevens Point Sculpture Park.  This work will be loaned to the park for three years from May 2015 - May 2018.  
Students worked on developing ideas for their relief tile.  Sketching out concepts on paper scaled to tile sizes (10" X 10" & 5" X 20").  Theme = self-portrait.  This can be interpreted differently by each student artist.  The subject could be a representational work of their face or body.  It could also be more abstract or it could even be an object or symbol that communicates who they are or what they're all about.  Each student cast tile will become "their mark" on East High to be remembered by.

Keith assisting students in idea development.

Student "self-portrait" proposal sketches


4.27 - 4.28.15
Mixing 100 lbs. of sand with Sil-bind, and Sil-bind catalyst.  Packing and ramming sand into wood box forms.  Cover box with a bottom board and flip.  Pop out sand cast tile onto bottom board and allow to harden overnight for carving.  Process similar to sand castle making with a plastic pail, just on a larger scale with finer sand, Sil-bind, and a hardening catalyst.
Teaching mixing ratios
Mixing 100 lbs
Wooden Form & Tool for Packing/Ramming Sand Mixture

Ramming Sand Mix into Wood Form Mold Boxes

Flipping Form Mold Box & Tapping to Release Sand Cast

A big thanks to the following people who helped us out:
Rex Zemke, WSD Groundkeeper, for the cement mixer.
Greg Harvey, Athletic Director, for the pop-up tent.
Bruce Maata, Science Teacher/Greenhouse Operation, for the wheelbarrow.

Photos courtesy of Kris Vandenheuvel of the Wausau School Foundation.

Sand Mix Cast from Form Mold Box  (popped out & left to harden overnight)

Designs were reversed using a light box and transferred onto sand cast tiles.  
Transfer process: charcoal pastel carbon or cut-out and trace major shapes.  Sketching directly onto sand with a #2 pencil also works very well.  Students began carving their relief sculpture into the sand with a variety of tools: chisels, gouges, loop tools, nails, drills, Dremels, etc.

Reversed Design

Students continue carving their relief sculpture into the sand with a variety of tools: chisels, gouges, loop tools, nails, drills, Dremels, etc.  

Students begin to visualize vocabulary term/concept:
enantiamorph - a mirror opposite of the positive image.

Field Trip to Keith Kaziak's Studio.  Photos courtesy of Jolyn Cook.
  1. a ceramic or metal container in which metals or other substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures.

  1. a block of steel, gold, silver, or other metal, typically oblong in shape.

Stamped Ingot (below)
Students will stamp their finished relief metal tiles with their initials.
300 lbs. of large ingots (below left) were delivered to Londerville Steel Enterprises, Inc. for cutting. Thank you to this local steel yard for generously donating the fee for cutting up these ingots.  The ingots must be cut down into manageable sizes so they will be easier to handle and fit through the furnace opening.  Some need to be smaller so that they will melt faster as the furnace heats to desired temperature.  Cut aluminum (below right).

Propropyl Alcohol mixed with Graphite in lidded jar.
Applied over sand tile with a paint brush to clean and prep for casting.
Graphite will aid in the release of the metal from the mold after the pour.
Lighting on fire to burn off the alcohol.  We could leave the alcohol to evaporate, but what fun would that be?  Flames!!!

Keith has been working alongside students to fabricate several two-piece molds to create cast vessel forms (left).  These sculptural vessels are one of Keith's signature forms which can be seen below (right).  Forms similar to these will be for sale in a silent auction during CAFE.  Proceeds raised from the sale of these works will go to East Art Department with the hope of financing future pour workshops for our students.

Kris Vandenheuvel of the Wausau School Foundation joins our class.  Kris completed her tile for our collaborative sculpture using the Foundation's logo as her source of inspiration.
Keith's 2 piece molds in-progress
Complete molds with rolled plasticine layers and cores.
Getting ready for the pour.  A big thanks to Jim Winch of Lakes Gas Co. for donating a 30lb tank of propane.  Now we're ready to go with a tank to spare!

Live aluminum pour at CAFE.  Photo courtesy of Peter Vance

Photos courtesy of Jolyn Cook.

Videos courtesy of Colleen Parquette
Time lapse video of live metal pour event.

Cast relief tiles and Keith's cast forms.

Precision Welding & Machine 2203 N 18th St, Wausau, WI 54403
Thank you to owner and operator Mark Myshka for sandblasting all our tiles in exchange for a few bags of silica sand.

Began painting tiles with oil enamel paints.





Proposal sketches for what finished work might look like.
Pop art style: bright, flat colors with bold outlines.

  • Freestanding billboard.  Welded steel frame on which student tiles would appear to be exploding out of a "POW" or "WHAM" cartoon shape.  A bright red cartoon bomb with fuse and black crow will also be cast additions to complete the work.

  • In-the round column.  Student tiles exploding from cartoon bomb near base/pedestal and reassembling into orderly geometric column.  Crow perched at the top.  Chaos to order; order to chaos.

Other ideas: 

  • Create a cube by assembling student tiles.  Tiles would be spaced to allow even gaps between them. Cube would be mounted on its axis on a pedestal.  Possibly lit from within or able to spin on its axis.
  • Create a column or obelisk by assembling student tiles.  A monument in recognition of the pour workshop.
Daily Herald Article: Kaziak makes a go of it as a sculptor in Wausau 

Steel purchased from Londerville Steel Inc. cut and welded into an 8' open column frame.  Tile layout selected for each side/face of the column.  Cast tiles will be screwed into frame to fill each opening.

Preparing and creating bomb and crow molds for final pour. 
Ramming sand onto crow form to create 2-piece mold.

Molds completed and ready for pour.


Final Revision to plan.  This sketch shows what the completed piece will look like.

Maintenance & Operations grounds crew poured a cement footing for our permanent sculpture installation.  An 18" auger used to place a sono-tube 4' in the ground.
Threaded rod were set into the cement to later secure sculpture with bolts.
A 2" X 4" form/frame was created to create a square mounting platform at the top of the cement tube.

Cement footing complete and awaiting installation of sculpture in spring.
The completed sculpture created in the Aluminum Pour Workshop will be unveiled during C.A.F.E. 2016.

Both halves of our sphere were welded together and then welded to our mounting plates.  Work completed by Mark Myshka of:

    Precision Welding & MachineAddress: 2203 N 18th St, Wausau, WI 54403

2.5.16   Student cast tiles fitted and test mounted to steel frame with tapped & threaded screws.

A preview of what our finished piece will look like, minus the colorful cast aluminum tiles.
Student tiles will be bolted onto this steel frame; covering each face of this column (view image below/previous post to view column with tiles).

Now every piece is ready to be delivered to Crystal Finishing for a protective powder-coating.

A huge thank you to Ben Kobs, Keith's friend & fellow community artist, for drilling all the mounting holes through our steel frame, plates, and cast aluminum tiles!  That was a lot of time consuming and technical work.  Ben also helped us early on in our project by delivering our silica sand and much more. We really appreciate all Ben's participation and contributions to our project.
3.24.16  Top & bottom - welded & secured.  

Steel rod nest material added around crow to add stability, asymmetry, and visual interest.
Test install on cured footing.
Disassembled and loaded for delivery to Crystal Finishing 4704 Bayberry St. Schofield, WI for powder coating.  Thank you to Steve Kopp and Crystal Finishing for generously donating the labor and permanent color powder coat finishing.

Final Install!
Picked up all completed components and laid out for assembly.
Keith Kaziak, Ben Kobs, & Jerry Kaziak make adjustments to erect piece permanently.


Official dedication of sculpture at C.A.F.E. 24.
Just over a year later, the collaborative work is finally complete!
A special thanks to all involved:
Kris VandenHeuvel: Wausau School Foundation Reach for the Stars Grant
Keith Kaziak: Artist
Ben Hobs: Marathon Electric Engineer
Brad Peck:  Wausau East Principal
Steve Kopp: Crystal Finishing
Mark Mishka: Precision Welding
Londerville Steel Enterprises, Inc.
Rex Zemke: WSD Groundskeeping
Jim Winch: Lake Gas, Co.
Jerry & Sharon Kaziak
Mary Ellen Marnholtz
Peter Vance Photography
Colleen Parquette Videographer

Students involved:
Paige Bootz
Devon Burris
Kyle Daniel
Hailey Erickson
Abbie Esterline
Jacob Flannery
Rebecca Behl
Kallista Hampton
Victoria Houben
Zachary Howard
Isaiah Jaecks
Melese Klinner
Andrew Knighton
Pao Choua Lor
Vennessa Moore
Myah Ness
Andrew Prelipp
Kersyn Sann
Kyaira Schofield
Rebecca Smith
Jacob Witz
Tegan Wolf
Pa Xiong

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