Last week Julie Wayer was a work-study scholarship student, waking at 4am to make the cafe’s breakfast, and spending her afternoons cleaning guest rooms.  This week, she was crowned Empress of Finland.  A recent graduate of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, she came to Acosanti on the advice of friend, fellow MIA graduate, and former foundry worker, Sean Mohundro.  Arcosanti seemed to be the perfect place to pursue her interest in green design, and love of metal work.  The daughter of a sheet metal worker, Wayer grew up in Chicago around the craft, and later found a surprising calm from working the last 2 1/2 years in her school’s foundry.  “I started spending time there for my sculpture minor, and found the work to have a real meditative quality.  While working on the grinder there, I would do it twelve hours a day sometimes.  It was amazing.  I would walk away with such focus and calm”

[“Empress”Julie Wayer works on a fin in Finland; Photo and text by new archive intern Donald Mahoney]

Taking advantage of Arcosanti’s work-study program, Julie has spent four weeks working hard in the cafe and for guest services to earn a scholarship for her workshop.  When workshop participants and volunteers get the opportunity to experience the foundry, they spend most of their early days in “Finland”, a room in the back of the apse where the wind-chime fins are cut and shaped for the bottom of the bells.  This is where Julie earned her new nickname.  “Prime Minister of Finland, Empress of Finland, Queen, we call her all sorts of things,” explains foundry employee Chad Repp, “It’s just nice to have a hard worker with experience like her who doesn’t mind coming in and doing the smaller jobs when she starts.”  Unable to carve, pack, or pour yet, Julie’s first week duties reside in “Finland”, and helpful but not always glorious jobs like sweeping and sifting sand for small pieces of bronze possibly lost along the way.  Says Wayer, “You pay your dues in any job.  You never walk into one expecting to do whatever you want.  Everyone on the floor has done what I am doing now.  And this is more than a job I want, this is a chance to learn”

[Julie Wayer removes steel jackets from bell moldings in preparation for a pour; Photo and text by new archive intern Donald Mahoney]

After finishing her final project at MIA on the psychological effects of green spaces in cities, Julie has found a happy work environment at Arcosanti.  “My school’s foundry was in an old warehouse.  Here, the fact that I can stand in my workspace and see green, see nature, it’s great.  It’s not a typical foundry.”  Is getting the opportunity to work in this unique foundry all that she hoped it would be?  “I’m not sitting sitting behind a computer everyday.  I’m making things, with my hands.  And there is so much rotation here, I’m learning and doing something different everyday.”

[Julie Wayer sweeps the foundry floor; Photo and text by new archive intern Donald Mahoney]

Foundry Manager Andy Chao:  “She seems to have it together.”

[Foundry Manager Andy Chao gives guidance on making one of the larger fins; Photo and text by new archive intern Donald Mahoney]

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