Crew members at the moment are Matt Cornwell, Colin Evans, Guy Flagg, as well as three foundry women, Cabiria Dourte, Zoe Middlebrooks and Sal Tellini, and foundry manager Andy Chao.
Here is Sal Tellini molding the fine sand mixture into one of the bell forms. The damp sand gets packed around an aluminum bell pattern (there are about 38 different styles / shapes in the collection) inside this 2-piece wood and metal frame called a snapflask (the top half is called the cope and the bottom half the drag).
Zoe finished her mold and is cleaning the form. She removed the snapflask from the cope block of sand, which was molded around the aluminum pattern. The aluminum pattern was then removed leaving a cavity for the liquid bronze to fill.
Within the cavity are carvings of the individual artists.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.
A propane-fired furnace melts bronze ingots inside a silicon-carbide crucible vessel. While bronze as a material (comprised primarily of copper alloys) melts at 1700F, this furnace heats the metal all the way to 2200F, enabling the bronze to maintain its liquid state long enough to do successive pours.
A series of sand blocks in steel sleeves are laid across the deck of the Foundry Apse, awaiting the pour.
While two people balance and pour the crucible of molten metal using foundry tongs, others stand ready to pitch sand onto any stray pools of bronze.
The melted metal enters the spru hole and follows a channel to the cavities formed by the aluminum patterns. In only a few minutes the metal cools back to solid state and soon enough the bells can be broken out of the sand molds.
Here is yesterdays 10:30 am pour. Andy is guiding the crucible with Matt tailing and Sal, Zoe and Cabiria are shoveling, making sure that any spilt bronze is dealt with right away.
Cabiria is grinding bells to eliminate excess bronze flashing. Once the bells are ‘cleaned up’, a hole is drilled through the top of each bell. This makes it possible to attach the clapper and ft-links [which can comprise the hanging chain attachment off the tops of the bells].
Cosanti Original bells, bronze and ceramic, make wonderful Christmas presents, and better yet, some of the income from the bells supports ongoing construction here at Arcosanti.