Professor Laura West, head of Sculpture at Fresno City College, has been casting iron since her undergraduate studies at Southern Illinois University in the late 1980's/early 1990's. This is where her first iron furnace was built. Professor West continued her studies at Idaho State University and then became part of the teaching staff at the Johnson Atelier Technical Institute of Sculpture before moving to Fresno, California.
Although Professor West has run and built furnaces of a wide variety of sizes, types and situations, she specializes in smaller furnaces and beginner crews. Laura is known internationally for her iron casting skills. Her small tap out iron cupola which melts 100 lbs/7minutes and has been used in classrooms and workshops from coast to coast. This furnace alone has seen over 30,000 pounds of iron flow through it. Professor West was even a member of a small crew of people who poured iron north of the arctic circle in Alaska.
Laura's work has been exhibited internationally and focuses on the placement of cast figurative elements within installation and environmental formats. In the past several years, her work has expanded to include the use of digital technology and rapid prototyping. This research focuses on the use of digitally produced molds and patterns for use with cast metal.