Mike has long been intrigued with the grey, polished steel look that comes with cast iron. He uses processes similar to those employed while the craft was in its infancy in 5th century BCE China, and Mike’s work is inspired by those ancient vessels.
Cast iron is made from pig iron, the product of smelting iron ore in a blast furnace. Cast iron can be made directly from the molten pig iron or by re-melting pig iron, often taking steps to purify the metal.
Melting cast iron happens at 2100-2200 degrees Fahrenheit and artists use one of two types of furnaces — a special type of blast furnace known as a cupola, or the modern electric induction furnace.
Mike has used both types: the cupola is a lot of work (and a lot of fun) and requires several people. The induction furnace is found in the bronze foundry, so the work is created much like a bronze piece.