Posts Tagged ‘Aryn Henning Nichols’

Dear Readers, Friends, Fans, and passers-by,


Hi! You’ve reached our blog. We use this space to post about upcoming events we think are particularly cool or silly things we just want to share. Our website has lots and lots of great feature stories, multimedia like video and audio, an events calendar and more. Visit us over there too! We think you’ll like it!

Looking forward!


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The August / September issue of Inspire(d) is quickly coming together here at the Oak Street HQ. As you can see at left, our cover features a beautiful painting by Doug Eckheart of the Borlaug family farm – and you’ll find a feature story by Aryn all about Dr. Norman Borlaug, the upcoming Harvest festivities in Cresco, and more.

Speaking of Festivities – there is also a ton of great information in this issue about digIN, the new green festival in Decorah August 21-23. Check out profiles of Off-the-Grid Homes and sustainable farms that you can tour, musical events, great local food, details on the KDEC Green Expo, and a bounty of other things!

Of course we have all the regular reviews, a piece on old tractors, Froelich, and Mabel/Hesper Steam Engine days by Benji, State Fair tidbits – and the list goes on….

As you may have seen or heard us say, we are dangerously close to honing in our new website for it’s launch. We’re not ready to spill the beans yet, but we have to say we’re pretty darn excited about it and we think you will be too!

Better get back to finishing up the magazine – Until it meets you on stands…….

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By Aryn Henning Nichols

 Sculpture artist Kelly Ludeking loves metal. Pretty much all kinds of it. And while he originally started with bronze and aluminum, it was an iron pour that really pulled him in. For Kelly, pouring iron is about community. It’s about learning and teaching, and it was this aspect that really sealed his path and passion.

Born in Decorah, Iowa, Kelly attended the local high school, and like many small town teens, was involved in essentially every extracurricular activity that he had any interest in. Mostly art-related things: band, drama, painting, sculpture, etc.

Diane and Kelly at a pour

Diane and Kelly at a pour

“It kind of amazed me to look back and see how much art I dabbled in to find my niche,” he says.

That niche was eventually found at the Minnesota College of Art and Design where he was studying metal work. Kelly and some friends were invited to an iron pour – their first – and they watched as nearly a dozen people worked together as a team to feed a fire, melt iron, and pour it into molds to make each person’s individual art works.

“It was more of a production,” Kelly says. “It was such an incredible event.”

After, Kelly and friends went back to their college, inspired. They wanted to build their own furnace. And with help from the school, they did. Amazingly, they hosted their very own iron pour later that year. That furnace lived on at the Minnesota College of Art and Design for several years until it was donated to a sculpture park. It’s still used today, and in fact, was recently done so by Kelly.

You see, this is what Kelly does. He is an artist. He’s only just relocated with his wife to Madison, Wisconsin, from the Twin Cities, and he’s already got a gallery showing lined up. He is doing it. He travels around the Midwest and nation to be a guest artist, speaker, or participant in iron pours and events. He was invited to three pours this spring alone, and even spoke at the National Conference on Cast Iron Art in Birmingham, Alabama. The goal was to help students realize there is “casting after college.”

“The conference helps teach the next generation,” says Kelly. “We want them to know that once they leave college, they can continue to cast. Through businesses and institutions, they can make a living at it.”

There are a lot of inventive ways to cast post-graduation, he says. One is to set up your own event, like the sixth annual Down on the Farm Iron Pour Kelly is hosting on his family’s farm this June 24 through 27. The whole thing started on a whim – after organizing more than a decade of pours elsewhere, Kelly was living in Decorah helping his family and decided to bring an event here.


Down at the Farm Iron Pour

Down at the Farm Iron Pour

“I figured I could show my family what I do and not have to leave the farm,” he says. “And this way I have control of things. My dad’s very cool about it, we can build a bigger furnace and I know there will be enough room for everyone. And from the sounds of it, it’s going to be quite a bit larger than it’s been in the past. It’s looking like 50 artists are coming.”


People of all experience levels will stay in rural Decorah out at the Ron Ludeking farm and cast and teach and learn from each other. They come here from a variety of locales –Kentucky, Minnesota, Wisconsin – for this “Down on the Farm” pour. Artists are beginning to look forward to the annual event, even recognizing the barn in the promo posters before they even know Kelly.

“I have a t-shirt with the barn on it and people say, ‘You’re that guy,’” Kelly says. “It’s growing. People are coming from all over to play at my farm. For some ‘weekend warrior’ kind of artists, this is their get-away. This is their time to make art.”

The entire four-day event is organized by Kelly’s company, Ironhead Sculptural Services, and is open to the public each day from noon until 7 pm. Visitors can come watch artists in the process of creating patterns and molds. Then on Saturday, June 27, at roughly 5 pm, Kelly and his crew of artists will fire up the furnace and pour molten metal into the molds they’ve been working on throughout the event.

After, DJ Efraim Santiago from White Bear Lake, Minnesota, will fire up the tunes and mix music for the annual iron pour party.

Kelly is also teaching classes at the farm Wednesday, June 24, through Decorah’s ArtHaus. The first class, open to students age 13-17, begins at 1 pm. The adult class begins at 5:30 pm (go to arthausdecorah.com for more information or to sign up for the class). Students will learn the casting process and create their own medallions.

“I especially enjoy teaching kids, because they seem to be getting away from hands-on learning – tactile stuff. There’s so much virtual work,” he says. “Hands-on building is something so different from building on a computer. I think it’s just a good learning experience for them. And for the adults too.”

If things go as Kelly hopes, the entire Down on the Farm Iron Pour will really be one big learning process. Casting iron for fun and for an art didn’t start until the 60s, Kelly says, and a lot of the original “old dogs” are retiring from pouring and moving on.

“I want to learn as much as possible. It’s cool to be a part of something where the founders are actually still around,” Kelly says. “It hasn’t changed, why we do it. It’s the love of the metal. It’s really key to the process. If you can make iron beautiful and change the way people look at it – that it’s not machinery, it’s not something that’s cold and hard any more – if you can change somebody’s perception about it… that’s art. It’s pretty cool.”


Aryn Henning Nichols thinks molten metal is pretty darn neat. She hopes lots of people visit Kelly’s cool pour.


Down on the Farm Iron Pour: June 24 through 27 (pour at 5 pm on Saturday)
According to Kelly: “Completely open to ALL skill levels”
Ron Ludeking Farm, 1421 200th Street, Decorah
To get more information or to be involved, contact Kelly at:

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It was just one year ago that a series of torrential storms dropped incredible amounts of rain on the tri-state area. At the time, inspire(d) was allowed access to capture many aerial photos of Decorah as the flood waters crested. If you would like to see these photos please CLICK HERE.

Also, Luther College Professor and Inspire(d) Book Critic Amy Weldon shared her perspecitves on the floor later last summer – you can read her accounts of community and high water by CLICKING HERE.

Sandbags in Decorah

Sandbags in Decorah

Here’s to a much happier, healthier, and weather stable summer in the upper midwest!

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Hey Inspire(d) Friends!

Thanks for stopping by here to check out what we’re up to. Feel free to poke around and don’t miss our ‘Inspire(d) Events‘ page where we post select events that are coming up in our great region!

You can also swing by www.theinspiredmedia.com to get a taste of the new flavor that our website is headed in. Soon we will have a whole new look and feel that you’re going to love – so keep your eyes & ears open for changes here in Inspire(d)ville.

We’re busy getting the June/July issue of Inspire(d) Magazine ready to go to press this week – it will be on stands by June 6th, and it’s going to be GREAT – just like summer in Iowa…  All 6,000 of our April/May issues have flown off the racks, so if you’d like to SUBSCRIBE to Inspire(d) to make sure you get a copy of each new issue- just CLICK HERE!


Aryn & Benji


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Asparagus, straight from the Inspire(d) yarden.

May at Inspire(d) HQ.

Well howdy Inspire(d) friends! We just thought we’d let you know what we’re up to real quick since we won’t have our next magazine out until the first week of June! First, a huge thanks to all of you who picked up a copy of our April-May issue. Since increasing our circulation to 6,000 back in October it seemed that we had about the right number of magazines to keep a few in all of our racks and distribution spots, while not picking up many extras. With the welcoming of Spring though, it would appear that the interest in Inspire(d) has grown a bit too! We are close to being entirely out of our April-May magazines, which is a wonderful growing pain to have. If you have an extra copy of the April-May issue, pass it along to a friend – and if you’d like to make sure that you always get a copy of the magazine, feel free to subscribe and it will come right to your door. CLICK HERE for subscription info.

asparagus09c Spring and early summer are such incredibly exciting times in the upper midwest. The garden at Inspire(d) HQ here in Decorah is almost all settled in for the summer. The rhubarb and asparagus are rocketing out of the ground, along with the walking onions! Fresh transplants of peppers and herbs from the Seed Savers Exchange appear to have taken hold, and lettuce & red carrot seeds are patiently sprouting – now if we can just keep up with the weeds.

We’ve been keeping the dirt off our keyboards as well with lots of extra projects this month. Aryn has been busy designing away for projects like Women’s Weekend Out, ArtHaus, and local businesses, and I’ve been out on the road with The Nadas for a few shows as well as keeping busy with promoting our own show with The Diplomats of Solid Sound, and other noisy tasks. Our website is also in the works of being redesigned and will offer a fun new look soon.


August 21-23, 2009 in Decorah, Iowa!

Our June-July issue of Inspire(d) is coming together with all the energy of early summer as well. Our region has so much to offer as the outside world buds into life. Graduations are quickly approaching, as is the music & festival season, and Fair Time = Fun Time!  We’re REALLY excited about a new event that Decorah will be hosting in August as well – DigIn – the Decorah Iowa Green Initiative. Activities are being planned August 21-23 including sustainable farm and home tours, displays, informational workshops, entertainment and more. Keep your eyes and ears open for more details to come soon – and look for the logo!

The sun is shining away between rain showers and we’ve got work to do. Enjoy the changing of the seasons and thanks so much for all of your support and encouragement. We can hardly believe that our June-July issue of Inspire(d) will mark our 15th issue – we couldn’t do it without you- THANKS!

Aryn & Benji / Inspire(d)


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Inspire(d) would like to thank everyone that came out to help shake down the Steyer Opera House with the Diplomats of Solid Sound! A huge thanks to KDEC-FM 100.5, The Hotel Winneshiek, The Diplomats of Solid Sound, and of course everyone who came out to the show. Here are a few pictures from the show:







Again, a huge thanks to all that came out for this show! Cheers!

photos: Benji & Aryn Nichols, Inspire(d) Media LLC

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