Crafting the bronze wind bells is a labor intensive process.
Presently the Foundry Apse is workspace for about five artists who shape the sand molds and pour the molten liquid metal to cast Soleri Original bells.
Over the next few postings, we will present them at work on the stages of bell production.
While the bronze ingots (bars of metal) are melting at 2200F in the propane-heated furnace, the foundry artists get to work shaping the sand molds. Damp sand gets packed around aluminum bell patterns (there are about 38 different styles / shapes in the collection) inside a 2-piece wood and metal frame called a snapflask (the top half is called the cope and the bottom half the drag).
After agitation on the pneumatic press, the snapflask frame is opened and the aluminum pattern removed. The cope block of sand, which reads the outside of the aluminum pattern, has indentations in it, while the drag side has mounds of sand since it read the interior of the aluminum pattern.
At this point, the artists use stylus tools to impress the designs into the cope sand. These become the images that are seen on the outside of the cast bells. Each artist tends to have her / his own renditions of the classic Soleri standard motifs, so it is interesting to observe the unique creations being made.
In the 7/30/08 posting we will continue to explore the foundry work and follow the bell production through to the next stage.