Sector67 cultivates entrepreneurial dreams

By Brennan Nardi, Madison Magazine

Sector67_webWitnessing an iron pour is a very cool and unique experience. I attended one on a chilly Saturday in February at Sector67, the local hackerspace where art, science and technology mingle together in an old, nondescript industrial building tucked away on the east side. Founded in 2010 by University of Wisconsin–Madison mechanical engineering graduate Chris Meyer, Sector67 is a poster child for what’s possible when people with ideas have the support to tinker with them. I can barely change a lightbulb, but I love wandering around the place, listening to the drone of activity and watching people work on stuff.

“Pour’n Yer Heart Out” is a festive, fire-filled occasion where you can make your own iron valentine. As a crowd gathers at a safe distance, metal designer Alisa Toninato and her team busily break down iron by hand, dump the pieces into an outdoor furnace heated to 2,800 degrees, tap the molten mixture—it comes out looking like heavy, red-hot syrup—and pour it into heart-shaped sand molds for the 150 people who’ve etched their own creative designs into them.

This year’s seventh annual pour featured two dozen or so artisans clad in fireproof coats, leather chaps and helmets working in a well-choreographed, machine-like assembly. I love how the physicality and artistry on display blend seamlessly together. I love the camaraderie of the metal artists, who flow in from Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee and all over the Midwest to hone their craft. I love how an extremely dangerous activity is performed and perfected safely in a festival-like atmosphere. Most of all, I love the smiling faces on the people gathered around the table full of tiny, 1-pound hearts, admiring the finished products and searching for their own special keepsakes. Read more …

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