I Cast Iron: Erica Hayes

I cast iron for the fierce, wild stillness.

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Hi, my name is Erica Hayes. I’m from Weymouth, Massachusetts and I’m a junior at MassArt.

What drew me into iron casting is the drama of the process. You go from pouring your heart and soul and thousands of hours into the creation of a piece and then you take a mold of that piece. And then from there you break iron yourself, and you pour the mold yourself, and you tend the furnace, and the whole time you’re surrounded by people that you trust and admire who have so much to teach you. That imbues every piece that’s made with a unique history and a magic of its own that I don’t think any other medium has.

It’s and incredibly elemental process where you feel connected to the Earth and it gives you, it gives me this feeling of that breath you take when you’re standing at the ocean when there’s a storm and you see these cathedrals of clouds and you’re just in awe of everything going on. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered that in an art form anywhere else and it’s a feeling I want to keep in my life forever.

I cast iron for the fierce, wild stillness.

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1 minute, 35 seconds

Listen to Erica Hayes, a Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) Iron Corps student, as she explains what drew her to iron casting.


Cast iron plaque with the words "I cast iron for the fierce, wild stillness" on it
Plaque #1

Erica Hayes

Though there are less abstract reasons I cast iron, none feel as true as this:

Choosing to make cast iron art is a time consuming and labor intensive process; the nature of the material simply demands excellence. The process proves the worthiness of the product, and the product proves the worthiness of the process. The act of casting iron quiets your mind and focuses all of your being into what you make. It is a magical experience, and the world needs more magic.
A cast iron spine with sharp points

Erica Hayes

Daughterhood is a self portrait. Rough hewn, jagged, and a bit painful at times. No one has a perfect relationship with their parents, and mine is no exception.

Trial by fire is a common way to grow up and, like anything, has its own unique pros and cons. What can be seen as resolve can also be seen as inflexibility. Sharpness can be a sign of preparedness or of an acrid personality. Self preservation can be seen as a virtue or as selfishness.

My spine is made of cast iron for its utility and resilience under pressure. It is also fragile due to the brittle nature of the material, though that isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when looking at it. Daughterhood is a reflection of my family relationships and how they have shaped me, but more than that it is what I have made myself into. Making my spine was, and will continue to be, a labor intensive process. It is meant to be uncomfortable in its vulnerability, and unflinching in its right to take up space.

Last updated: February 8, 2021