Vail: Impressions in bronze |

Vail: Impressions in bronze

Charlie Owen
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyThe bronze casting process in full swing in Vail, Colorado. Mark Guilbeau pours molten bronze into molds to create bronze bells.

VAIL, Colorado – There’s something almost primal about the process of casting molten bronze into meaningful shapes and items. That is one reason why, according to artist Mark Guilbeau, the bronze bells workshop is one of the most popular Vail Symposium events each time it returns to the valley.

“Bronze casting has been around longer than us as individuals,” said Guilbeau, the North Carolina-based artist and former Denver resident. “It’s something that I think is spectacular when you witness it. Rarely do I see people – when we start pouring this golden, liquid metal out of this pot – walk away. They’re kind of glued in, like a bug to a light or something … It’s like a volcano erupting. It’s pouring, the lava’s flowing. And then there’s the idea that it’s harnessed in such a way that you control these materials and end up with an audio-visual piece.”

On Sunday, the Vail Symposium and town of Vail’s Art in Public Places (AIPP) team up once again to give residents and guests the opportunity to decorate their own bronze bells with the guidance of professional artist Guilbeau and his team.

The Bronze Bells Workshop will take place at Ford Park Picnic Pavilion from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The public is invited to come to the Ford Park Picnic Pavilion to watch the bronze pouring after those participating in the workshop carve custom molds for their bells.

Guilbeau received an MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and is formerly a professor at Metropolitan State College in Denver. His work focuses on found objects, which ask the viewer to question the role of art in society. Guilbeau co-founded SPH Art-Functions in 1993 with the goal of deepening the public’s understanding of the creative process.

The process is exciting and highly visual, Guilbeau said.

Once the bronze is melted down into liquid form it is poured into individual, sand-based molds which will be customized by workshop participants. After the bronze cools the molds are pulled apart and each participant will be able to take their souvenir home with them.

“I think it’s fascinating. It’s an interesting process. There’s 5,000 years of history (there),” Guilbeau said.

And not many people have had the opportunity to experiment with the medium.

“I am looking forward to giving people the opportunity to make their own bronze works,” Guilbeau said.

Anyone can decorate a bell. Workshop participants will scratch original designs and impressions into pre-shaped, sand-based molds. The result will be conical-shaped, Oriental-style bells, according to Guilbeau, and each one will be unique.

“It is a fun and rewarding experience for all ages, providing a memorable experience for individuals and families alike,” said Carrie Marsh, executive director for the Vail Symposium.

All materials will be provided by the artist but participants should bring some design ideas with them. Reservations for the workshop are strongly recommended. Come enjoy the spectacle.

For more information or to make reservations, visit or call 970-476-0954.

Charlie Owen is the Vail Symposium’s summer press liasion. E-mail comments about this story to

What: Bronze Bells Workshop with Mark Guilbeau

When: Sunday. Bronze bell designing workshop from 3 to 5 p.m. Bell casting at dusk.

Where: Ford Park Picnic Pavilion in Vail.

Cost: $30 per bell. Reservations strongly recommended.

More information: Call 970-476-0954 or visit

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