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Lehi foundry pours miners memorial

Oscar Orozco and Efrain Orozco place the shells in the frame to be poured from the molten bronze.

Staff writer

On Aug. 8, Metal Arts Foundry in Lehi, began pouring the pieces to the jigsaw puzzle that will become the Crandall Canyon Miners memorial monument to be located in Huntington. On a portion of property near the cemetery on the road leading up to Huntington Canyon, the memorial will be installed and then dedicated on Sept. 14.

Artist Karen Templeton and her staff have been working on the monument since the families of the lost men during the disastrous cave-in decided to go with her design. The process, called lost wax casting, began with sculpting the monument in its entirety.

The completed sculpture was then taken to the foundry where it was cut into castable sized pieces. A shell type mold was made from each piece from a silica and sand mixture by immersing the piece in the mixture and forming many layers. Following this process, the wax was melted out of the molds.

An insulated form holding three or four pieces is then inserted into an oven to be preheated. During this time, the bronze ingots are placed into the crucible to begin the heating process. The bronze must be heated to 2,240 degrees to be pourable and takes several hours. As the shells are heating, any residual moisture is released from them.

When the bronze reaches the desired temperature, the shells are removed from the oven and the molten bronze is poured from the crucible into the molds. These pieces take another several hours to cool down. As the bronze cools, it shrinks from the shells just enough to allow the shells to be broken away from the piece.

Following the cooling process, the shells are removed by chipping away the shell and using a wire brush to reach into the small crevices. Brian Ivie, from Metal Arts, said the pouring process will take about a week to complete the pouring of the more than 30 pieces of the monument.

After the pieces are all poured and meet the artist's specifications, the pieces will be welded back together with the joining areas being ground off to the specified finish of the monument. Another of the artist's specifications is the finish for the monument. Ivie said a chemical patina will be applied to the reassembled monument as per the Templeton's instructions.

"It's just like a giant jigsaw puzzle," said Ivie. "This is a big project." The monument will be transported and installed at the prepared site in Huntington in one piece. Dedication and unveiling of the monument will be held on Sept. 14.

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