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Showcasing Patterns of Progress

The commissioned "Patterns of Progress" now resides in the Clarksville-Montgomery County Public Library

The commissioned "Patterns of Progress" now resides in the Clarksville-Montgomery County Public Library

Founded in the mid 1850s, Clarksville Foundry and Machine Works, Clarksville, Tenn., had an array of vintage wood patterns stowed away in its warehouse, out of sight and collecting dust. But in 1985, after decades in storage, Charles Foust Jr., president of Clarksville Foundry, commissioned artist Tom Malone to fashion the wood patterns of industrial machine parts into a work of art.

The sculptural assemblage, titled "Patterns of Progress," is a compilation of wooden patterns, most of which were handmade at the metalcasting facility. Constructed in three sections, "Patterns of Progress" consists of a variety of gear, wheel, pulley, strainer and widget patterns from Clarksville Foundry’s past. Foust estimates that approximately 100 patterns, many of which date to the late 1800s, were used in the 18 x 6-ft. sculpture.

The sculpture hung for a time in the office area of the Clarksville Foundry, but a move from that building put the large piece of art in storage. The firm recently put the sculpture on permanent loan to the Clarksville-Montgomery County Public Library in Clarksville, and the piece was unveiled to the public in January.

Malone, who died in 1998, produced a large body of work of paintings, drawings, sculptures, jewelry, musical instruments and furniture during his career. Inspired by the story told by the unique wooden patterns from the town’s oldest active business, his sculpture represents the history of Clarksville, Tenn., as well as the metalcasting facility that has made a home there for more than 150 years.

Originally published in Modern Casting, March 2006.Reprinted with permission.

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