Not Perfect Still Works

For week forty-eight of our fifty week calligraphy challenge we were asked to write letters A-Z any way we wanted. I was a bit bored by the prompt, so I was trying to think of something different to do. Several days later we were in Memphis, TN and stumbled upon the Metal Museum ( and walked into a tent where they were making casting aluminum tiles. BING! Challenge accepted! I sat down and got busy.

Step 1: A square mold made of sand, water and resin is used as the base for the tile. The letters or image needs to be reversed as it will appear in it’s opposite format once the tile is cast.

Step 2: Using a nail or a dental tool (I used both) scratch into the sand the image for the tile. I wrote the letters in black ball point pen, then scratched over them to create the indentations. It is very time consuming work and takes a great deal of patience. Once the letters were done I brushed out any excess sand. The mold was then set flat, ready to receive the aluminum.

Step 3: The aluminum is melted in a foundry to get it liquid hot, then poured into the mold. It takes 45 minutes for it to cool down enough to be pulled from the mold. I did not pour the 1190 degree liquid aluminum, a professional did that. Once cooled, the completed tile is then shined up to reveal the finished product.

When I showed it to my husband, he smiled then whinced. I instantly saw what he saw, the “J” was not correct…I forgot to reverse it on the mold. Rats! I then thought, oh well, it just confirms that the piece was hand made. I’m very excited about how it turned out and that I could get the prompt done in a cool, innovative way. VERY FUN!

On our way back to our hotel I was astonished at this new process and impressed by the Metal Museum. There are soooo many things people do that we have never encountered and being able to experience it first hand makes all the difference. As we learn it is important to remember not perfect still works. The important thing is to learn something and keep going. If we only shared the things that were perfect most of us would never have much to share.

Be sure to check out the Metal Museum, it is an amazing place and well worth a trip to visit.

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