Inspiration & Testimonials

The Foundry Tree project was inspired by:

-Workers at SLOSS Furnaces and other laborers who have shaped the United States, but remain faceless, undocumented and rarely recognized.
-Anthropological and genealogical processes that preserve familial structures.
-The continuation of the craft through one of America’s most important resources-creativity.
-A group of artists who wear their history of experiences.
-Having a document that will hopefully maintain necessary storytelling.
-The potential of connecting Cast Iron Artists through a web-based database that can grow and change with new generations.
-Preserving connections between “tribes” of artists.
-My professors who have passed away.
-My students who need to connect to their peers and to their elders.

Gabriel Bizen Akagawa

Founder of the Foundry Tree

Iron Casters’ reflections about the Foundry Tree:

I am inspired to continuously share the Foundry Tree project with studio guests, on my website, with new members to the iron casting scene, and at public events where people are just learning about this underground network. The organized documentation of the artists who are pushing and innovating our unique craft forward onto new generations is such an important part of keeping our community connected internationally. To see the lineage of where you first learned about cast iron and who influenced your personal energy on the pour floor is such an interesting insight to know about. The vast collection of people involved in our trade is a remarkable testament to how quickly our artisan communities have grown in essentially one lifetime of passed on knowledge. This craft is old but our family is still young, and I’m looking forward to adding to the tree as we live out this wild life we have chosen.”

Alisa Toninato, FeLion Studios, Madison WISCONSIN

“The Foundry Tree connects cast iron artists through their mentors, traces a lineage of knowledge, and adds to the sense of inclusion that this process seeks to promote. Gabe has created a wonderful celebration of people who care deeply about the rare magic that captivates and motivates our souls. All who appear embody the spirit of this community by bringing heart and drive to their passions. The Foundry Tree creates a sense of belonging and pride in those who embrace the opportunity for visceral experience and unique learning in iron casting that empowers throughout life. The power of that fellowship cannot be overstated.”


“I am so happy to be included in this wonderful project. Currently I am taking down the history of the iron casting movement in the USA and I am sure that your website will be an amazing resource as I continue my research. My goal is to produce a book within the next 5-6 years.”- Kara Brown.  For more information or to see how you can contribute her project, please email

“The Foundry tree is an important asset to our cast iron art activities in the present and will prove to be an equally important historical resource in the future.”

–  Tom Fox, President of the Western Cast Iron Art Alliance

“As a community of artists, traveling and making all the time it is a privilege to have the Foundry Tree Project as a record of us in action. It is truly unique to be able to capture artists as they travel through our community and I always look forward to seeing the growth of the project celebrating old changing faces along with the new. Over the years the Foundry Tree Project has become a crucial record of the Cast Iron Movement and is especially relevant as we now come into what is essentially our 50th year. “
Iron Sculptor and Professor of Sculpture at Alfred University

“I love your project and it is so neat to see myself in 2009 when I first had a photo at Sloss and now. I think it is really the only collection of all of us — so great to see it expand; keep up the good work.” – Paige Henry

“Given the ongoing learning in the iron community, we can all say that we learned from many people. I appreciate the ongoing development of this project, as it gives the cast iron art movement in contemporary sculpture practice a presence that is ever more important.”- Tamsie Ringler Assistant Professor of Sculpture and Foundry, University of Minnesota Department of Art

“I just love being on Foundry Tree, it shows the lineage in the cast iron education system and how skills are passed from teacher to student. If you cast iron you should be on Foundry Tree.”
Phen Edwards

“The Foundry Tree project is a fantastic idea, as there truly is a vast iron family, at this point in time.  Your recognition of this fills a void, namely the totality of the many people involved.  I know that personally, I’ve been involved with iron pours, at conferences and universities since the early 70’s.  From time to time I reflect on the many people involved, but you are the first to document this strange and wonderful phenomenon. It is something that I reflect on often.  Without the many people involved, I’m sure that my interest level would not be so high.  It has always been interesting, to see what new ideas develop among the iron gang, and to share thoughts and conversations among us.  Without the input of people from East Texas to Scranton, and much more, I’m sure that this phenomenon would have dwindled a long time ago.  But, it is clearly this cooperative effort, that provides key vitality to this work.  And it goes without saying, that we all take great pride in our individual contributions.  Many thanks, Chris Dashke”                                                            

“The Foundry Tree is one of those things you don’t know that you have been missing until you become a part of it.” – jane powers                                               

On the Foundry Tree, I am proud to be listed under Jim Buonaccorsi – as he was my graduate professor, and taught me iron casting.  With the Foundry Tree project, Gabe Akagawa is doing an amazingly comprehensive job documenting all of us in the iron casting art community.  I feel that the Iron Casting Artist Database maps how the iron casting knowledge is being passed down through our ‘generations’.  It is an amazing resource for us within the community but also for anyone interested in joining the cast iron art community. ” – Laura Mullen