The Eudora Welty Wreath, cast iron, ~5.5’x5.5’x1.5’, 2016

On display now in the Mississippi Museum of Art Garden

Permanent Collection, City of Jackson, MS


The images and video below show the yearlong process behind the creation of the Eudora Welty Wreath, a large scale cast iron sculpture. This project was made possible by a Faculty Development Grant from Millsaps College, an Artist Fellowship Grant from the Greater Jackson Arts Center, and a mini-grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission.

The Eudora Welty Wreath consists of castings of library patrons’ hands and used books. Each hand has unique characteristics and acts as a snapshot of each individual patron as they contribute to the social and cultural fabric of Jackson. I cast the dominant hand, as it is our connection with tools and our sense of the world around us, using alginate. Alginate, an algae based dental casting material, creates a highly detailed negative impression from each person's hand. After each casting workshop, I poured liquid plaster into the alginate negatives which hardened into a positive casting of each volunteer's hand. These multiple textures and histories are now combined into a wreath form that was cast in iron at Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museum in July, 2016.

Gerre Masse, the founder and director of Sculpture Trails, was instrumental in the support of creating this sculpture by creating the workspace, materials, equipment, and community required for casting iron. It took a large group of people working continuously for two weeks in order to complete this project from making a mold off of the pattern to a cast iron sculpture. This work would not be possible without the amazing Sculpture Trails community.

The casting process brings together disparate materials and textures that meld into a new form by first creating a positive form called a pattern. We then create a mold around that pattern by ramming resin bonded sand on top of the pattern situated in a flask. The sand cures rock hard. The mold is then opened and the positive pattern removed, leaving a negative space with all the texture and information from the original pattern. The empty sand mold is then ready to receive hot, liquid metal that fills the negative space. The iron cools, is broken out of the sand, and then subsequently finished with a grinder, wire brush, and coats of enamel. 

Mark The Eudora Welty Wreath