Uula Jero and his magnificent pedal-powered Foundry

by Katie Anderson

Casting has excited me since art school. The excessive amounts of process, technical skill application (or not, as is often in my case), and the transformation of objects through process has had me hooked. Last year, the stove network teamed up with Roddy Mathieson‘s inspirational Mobile Foundry as part of the Creetown Ferrythorn project, where we cast a new bronze bell for the village out of the old blacksmith’s shop (full details of the project available here).

Metal casting can be seen as a bit magical, mystical and unknown; the skill levels required, the production and preparation in casting – for example – a bell, are hugely time consuming and outwith most people’s capabilities. It’s never really stopped me from trying anyways… The lack of kit and facilities also gets in the way. But, never one’s to do things by halves, the stove hit upon the notion of creating a foundry to become part of our growing kit this year and after a bit of searching around we met Uula Jero.

Specialising in pedal-powered machines and utility bikes, Uula came up with the grand idea of a pedal-powered foundry, that could be cycled about town, and after a few design sessions, set up in his workshop near Balmaclellan. Meanwhile we began honeing our casting skills…


Honeing the power of the foundry also took a few shots…


A ‘little’ practice saw our cuttlefish shell casting techniques improve astronomically when testing pewter buttons for the Nithraid prize

Sand casting early spoon tests… we'll maybe leave that one till next time...

Sand casting early spoon tests… we’ll maybe leave that one till next time…

Although, as fun as it is to shut the door to the workshop, and fill my car with cuttlefish bones (cuttlefish girl had better not be the sort of name that sticks…), this was only ever preparation ahead of taking the foundry on it’s inaugral outing to the stove’s Nithraid in Dumfries.

Organised chaos ensued. As the Whitesands flooded with people, rather than river as it is so renowned, word spread, and nearly 80 people designed and created their own Nithraid buttons over the course of the afternoon.


Image: Galina Walls.

Huge thanks to the whole team who helped out on Nithraid day, and made the whole thing manageable, including Ruth, Hannah, Sara and David.

Back to the drawing board.

Because of course, doing something once is one thing, but after a few tweaks, alterations, a lot more cuttlefish, and a material change (did you know you can cast thirty spoons out of a single bicycle frame?) – Uula and his family departed for Wigtown Book Festival as part of the stove’s Trading Journeys – on bikes.

These were of course, no ordinary bikes - with the pedal powered foundry in one, and Uunti and Arnii in the other - they headed across the Galloway Forest Park.

These were of course, no ordinary bikes – with the pedal powered foundry in one, and Uunti and Arnii in the other – they headed across the Galloway Forest Park. Image: Colin Hattersley


The pedal-powered bouncy castle fan fed oxygen into the charcoal fueled furnace Image: Colin Tennant


The first of the spoons are unveiled. A limited edition run of 45 aluminium spoons were cast as part of the Trading Journeys project. Image: Colin Tennant


Matt Baker’s lucky 45 spoon