“Making Shot and Flattening Pennies” is a painting with two main components–the historic “Shot Tower” of Dubuque, IA in the background and a railroad that leads up to it. According to Wikipedia, the shot tower is one of the last of its kind left in the country! A shot tower was used for making perfectly round shot gun leads. The molten metal was poured through a sieve at the top of the tower, and by the time the metal droplets had reached the water at the bottom, they had formed and cooled into a ball. It has been over a century that the tower has been used.
The tower is definitely an imposing sight! I first saw this tower when I was driving around and happened upon it. It looked dramatic and I wanted to include it in a painting. However, it stood nearly 100 feet taller than anything else around it! How could I compose a painting like that? The next day, I happened upon the back side of the tower and realized that this was definitely a better painting.
When I was a kid, a railroad ran behind our house. One time, my dad showed us how to lay pennies down on the rails. After the train went through, we ran out there to collect our flattened pennies. I’ve had great respect for trains ever since. When it came to finding a name, I realized that at one point in time, this was a unique spot. One of the few places in the country where one could both be “Making Shot and Flattening Pennies”.