Tuesday, October 23, 2018

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Watching sparks fly: Connections between art, science captivate Science Festival crowd

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Sparks were flying while Lissa Marsolek observed blacksmiths, welders and metalworkers at work Thursday evening at Artisan Forge Metalworks in Eau Claire.

But it wasn’t just the metal sparking before the Menomonie resident’s eyes while her 14-year-old son stood nearby, mouth agape, as he helped a metalworker cut steel with a laser.

The demonstration and discussion, called “The Science of Art,” marked the kickoff of events across the Chippewa Valley and state as part of the Wisconsin Science Festival. The statewide festival runs through Sunday.

“It’s (the event) definitely sparked an interest in him,” Marsolek said. “It’s nice to see opportunities and possibilities for him locally.”

The Wisconsin Science Festival, in its eighth year, aims to promote curiosity and the understanding of science’s impact on the world around us — sometimes in unexpected ways.

Greg Johnson, founder and owner of Artisan Forge Studios, said he was excited to take part in the statewide science celebration because many don’t realize the many connections between science and art.

On a daily basis, metalworkers must utilize skills and knowledge related to chemistry, math and physics, Johnson said.

“Part of my passion is furthering the arts and science is absolutely connected to that,” Johnson said. “Where we have science, we get curiosity. And from curiosity comes art.”

Marsolek said she brought her son to the event because of his passion for woodworking, assuming this may be a natural next step for him and developing his hobby.

It certainly was worthwhile for Cole Marsolek, who has been working with wood to make custom duck and deer calls since he was 11 years old.

“This is very educational for me,” he said. “It’s cool to see what I could do.”

Not only did the event include demonstrations of modern metalwork done through CAD design and laser cutting to traditional blacksmith work that originated more than 5,000 years ago.

The long, rich history of blacksmithing was what Tyler Weegman said originally drew him to the hobby.

On a whim, he began exploring blacksmithing about two years ago. It all started as a “disjointed hobby,” as he attempted to learn from Youtube videos, but over the years it has grown further toward a career after finding a mentor and starting to work at Artisan Forge Metalworks.

In addition, Weegman said, blacksmithing is a craft that combines science with art, noting that when it was started thousands of years ago, no one thought of it as a “science.”

“Blacksmithing is the best of both worlds,” Weegman said.

Wisconsin Science Festival events will continue in the Eau Claire area with two lectures, “Science of Brewing” and “Science of the Night Sky” starting at 6:30 p.m. at Modicum Brewing in Altoona. Events at the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, Forage and Lazy Monk Brewing will continue into the weekend.

Contact: 715-833-9206, samantha.west@ecpc.com, @SamanthaWest196 on Twitter

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