Collaboration turns Green Energy Park into molten-metal-flowing foundry

Dillsboro, N.C., Oct. 5 — Molten aluminum and bronze ‘flew’ through the air at Jackson County’s Green Energy Park in a collaborative effort between Marya Roland’s sculpture/metals class and Timm Muth. “Pour Director” Matt West of UNCA, was also present to insure the operation was safe and effective.

“Third-degree burns can happen faster than you can blink your eye” said West, a lecturer of fine art at UNCA. “Aluminum melts at 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit and Bronze melts at 1700 degrees Fahrenheit—temperatures easily achievable from land fill gas (LFG). We’ve worked it out to a ‘ballet,’ this team does this, and that team does that — but there’s still room for error” said the GEPs Muth.

Roland, a professor of sculpture at WCUs School of Fine Arts insured that each student was wearing high-heat safety equipment. To Roland, everything had to be “right” from the safety briefing down to a day later when the metal had cooled and the molds were broken open exposing the cast metal sculptures to the eye for the first time. “I work with my students to produce creative, beautiful pieces—and they always do.”

Jason Inman, a student from Asheville said, “I appreciate the foundry facilities at the GEP. It’s an opportunity that most fine art students don’t have.” Alexis Hilton, from Hickory said, “this shows that the community supports green energy in a meaningful way.”

“Casting metal is the oldest metallurgical craft there is. It is the basis for all modern technology. Our foundry equipment was a gift to the GEP from Joel Queen in Cherokee. The EPA has told us that this is the only foundry fired on LFG in the world” said Muth.

The Jackson County Green Energy Park is an award-winning, community-scale landfill gas project located in Dillsboro, NC, that uses landfill gas and other renewable energy resources to provide fuel for blacksmith forges and foundry, glassblowing studios, and greenhouses. For more information, visit

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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