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SHINE project relies on collaboration

Employees at the Waupaca Foundry poured cast iron into the sand-resin molds to form the first of the 16 panels for the outdoor display. James Card Photo

Sculpture comes together with help of foundry, city, art community

By James Card

The Waupaca Foundry poured molten cast iron into a 3D-printed sand-resin mold on May 23 to create a panel that will form a sculpture that has been a huge undertaking of community involvement.

Many people contributed to this project: city government, the arts community, the foundry and hundreds of crafters who took the time to make glass tiles that will be embedded into the squares of the panels.

Andy Wanty and Mike Hemmila led a tour of the plant for members of the project to get a look at what is involved. It was an offline pour, meaning it was a one-off specialty project that the Waupaca Foundry adjusted its operations for.

The red-hot liquid metal, burning at 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit, only took a couple minutes to fill in the voids in the mold.

Atotal of 16 panels cast will fit together in interlocking grooves. The entire structure will weigh over 10,000 pounds and a large crane from the foundry’s Plant 1 will be used to get into place.

The iron structure will undergo a process to induce a proactive layer of rust to prevent streaking later.

“We had to determine what to make the structure out of and plan for the effects of weather. In this case, we want the work to rust because the oxidation will be a nice offset against the colors and clarity of the glass,” said Hemmila.

The project started in the summer of 2022. Waupaca Community Arts Board hosted 16 free workshops to build the tiles. They were supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the state of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Those making the 8-inch-by-8-inch tiles ranged from children as young as 9 years old to a person who was 89.

More than 170 original fused-glass tiles were made under the guidance of local glass artisan Mary Beisner.

One of more than 170 glass-fused tiles that were created in workshops hosted by the Waupaca Community Arts Board. James Card Photo

When Main Street was getting ripped up to rebuild the downtown area, rails from the trolley were discovered and Public Works Director Justin Berrens salvaged them. Steel from the old rails were recycled and melted down to be used in the casting of the framework.

The SHINE structure will find a home in Rotary Park between Rotary Plaza and the children’s playground. It will be installed in the fall of this year with a city celebration planned for the event.

Meanwhile as the other panels are cast and the jobsite is prepped for installation, people can visit the SHINE exhibit in the basement of the Waupaca Public Library. It will be on display until June 1.

“Shine is a great collaboration with our friends at the Waupaca Community Arts Board (WACB); they are always bringing creative ideas to our community, and I am happy to be able to let this artwork ‘Shine’ in our Exhibit Room. Alongside the WACB fused glass tiles, we were able to ‘Shine’ a light on local artists, Paulina Gonzalez and Manuel Munoz. There are so many artists and crafters in our area, and their talents make the community a more vibrant place, just like the WACB sculpture project,” said exhibit director Liz Kneer.

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