Bronze bell-making workshop & bronze pour in Vail |

Bronze bell-making workshop & bronze pour in Vail

Daily Staff ReportVail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

VAIL Philadelphia has the Liberty Bell. Newport, Kentucky has the World Peace Bell. Bells decorate Ford Park in Vail this summer. And on Wednesday, your home could have a new bronze bell, too! The Vail Symposium is teaming up with the Town of Vails Art in Public Places (AIPP) to present a bronze bell making workshop from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday in Ford Park. Adults and children alike are encouraged to join in the bell-making process. Whats more, everyone in the community is invited to come watch the evening pouring of the hot bronze the 5,000 year old foundry process. The bell-making workshop will absolutely be fun and accessible for kids and adults, said Fraidy Aber, executive director of the Vail Symposium. And a bronze pour is a must-see experience!

No need to be shy, everyone can make a bell, said Mark Guilbeau, the leader of Wednesdays workshop. Guilbeau received a MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and is currently a professor at Metropolitan State College in Denver. He co-founded SPH Art-Functions in 1993 with the goal of deepening the publics understanding of the metal work. Ive taught for a long time to almost every age group you can imagine, and my experience is that people freeze up with a pencil and paper, Guilbeau said. But with carving, people just love to do it!Workshop participants will scratch their own designs into sand-based, bell master molds. Master molds are easy to use people just carve into the sandy mold material to customize their bells, said Guilbeau, who designed the bell molds for Wednesday. The personalized molds will turn into eight-inch bells Wednesday night at 8 p.m. during the bronze casting performance.

Leslie Fordham, the coordinator of AIPP, focuses on bringing interesting art displays and opportunities to Vail. Following the success of the Heavy Metal Weekend this winter, when more than 30 artists descended upon International Bridge in Vail for three nights of iron and bronze pours, Fordham struck up conversation with Guilbeau about a way to bring hot metal back to Vail.Fordham had already secured the exhibition of bells by James G. Moore in Ford Park, so when it came to a theme for a summer workshop, she said, It just didnt make sense for the focus of the bronze pour and workshop to be on any other object. Guilbeau agreed. For this program, I wanted to make something that people could use. Besides, bells are unique. They are audiovisual art, he said.

This performance couples flames with liquid metal, Fordham said. Artists dressed in fire-safe clothing will load bronze into metal-melting furnaces that will reach a temperature of 3,000 degrees. Once molten, the fluid will be poured into molds created by the artists and workshop participants. Guilbeau described this process as More exciting than an erupting volcano! To accentuate the visual impact of the performance, it will be held after dusk to ensure a bright show. I am looking forward to educating the public about this old casting process, Guilbeau said. Our industrialized society is based on products that have been mass produced. This process [of bronze pouring] is over 5,000 years old, and it focuses on the production of each individual piece. Using molds, multiples can be made, but they are much more special and rare.Aber is looking forward to making a bronze bell and taking it home with her. I have collected bells from Thailand and garden shops. I love this chance to make one myself and itll be in bronze, she said. Additionally, AIPP has commissioned Guilbeau to make 20 bronze bells that feature the famous manhole cover design. These bronze bells will be sold along with the souvenir manhole covers, jewelry, hitch covers and ornaments to help fund Vails Public Art Program. Reservations are strongly recommended, as the afternoon workshop may sell out. The evening bronze pour performance is free and open to the public. As a sculptor, I resonate with the three-dimensional aspect of a mountain community, Guilbeau said. There is a lot of art in Vail, and I think that is because Vail is a great place for people to be creative.

What: Bell-making workshop led by Mark GuilbeauWhen: 3 to 5 p.m.Cost: $25 adults/$10 children under 18Details: Everyone will make an 8 bronze bell to take home. Reservations strongly recommended.More information: Call the Vail Symposium at 970-476-0954 or visit Bronze pour eventWhere: Outside the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail. When: 8 p.m.Cost: Free.More information: Call the Vail Symposium at 970-476-0954 or visit

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