These images nicely illustrate the spectacle of a molten iron happenings. Some of these images were taken by myself, unless otherwise noted, and generally for the purpose of documentation rather than profit. As a result some are not for sale.
In order to melt iron a cupola furnace, mine is called Shazam, is completely filled with tangerine sized pieces of coke that are set on fire and accelerated with a Kirby vacuum cleaner motor. After the coke reaches white hot (about 3000 degrees) broken up bits of cast iron radiators are charged into the furnace 45 pounds at a time alternately with 7 pound charges of coke. The iron melts into big raindrop sized droplets and they pass around the unconsumed coke and fall towards the bottom of furnace where the well quickly fills up (like a glass full of ice that has water quickly dripped into it). At the bottom, front of the furnace there is a 2" diameter hole that is plugged up with clay. When the well is full this plug, called a bott, is removed with a hammer and spike (tapping the furnace) and a white hot steam of molten iron shoots out and is caught in a pre-heated 5 gallon bucket sized ladle. From here either sand molds will be filled with the liquid metal or a performance will take place using the same molten iron.
When I have a molten iron performance (a term I first used in 2004) this process happens in a very rapid manner and special consideration is taken for crowd entertainment. I have poured iron into glass faced molds, blocks of ice, chunks of manganese, stacks of newspapers, hard-cover books, the Yellow Pages, tree trunks, along parade routes, on Manhattan sidewalks, in blizzards, backyards, torrential downpours and under police presence.
I am currently writing the first known "Iron Pour Opera" and hope to soon cast a 51 link, unbroken chain at the base of the Statue of Liberty on the 4th of July.