Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Arcosanti, Part 3

Happy Independence Day!

The next stop on the tour is the bronze bell foundry but our tour guide had us wait on a patio just prior to the foundry. So we had the opportunity to study the Cliff Swallows who have started construction of their mud nests on the wall above us. A Google search reveals that these birds will line the interior of their nests with grass, often sharing a wall with a neighboring couple. The male and female form a relationship marked by marginal mutual tolerance, short duration and the male’s philandering.

Females, in addition to laying eggs in her nest, may lay an egg in another couple's nest and the same may happen in hers. As a result, they often raise a brood of mixed parentage. The male-female bond will only last until the fledglings can fly and feed themselves.

The brief wait was for the foundry workers to prepare for visitors. They were extremely careful about their own safety as well as the safety of their visitors. My friend, Greg, was even asked to move out of one area for that same reason.

As we waited, I spotted a couple of crates of bells with clappers and hangers. These are ready for patina to be applied prior to sale.

Finally, we were permitted to approach the foundry. Greg and I wandered about just a bit to try and find the best vantage points for our photos.

Finally, I found a promising spot. You can see an orange flame breaking the surface just to the left of the taller worker.

Looking more closely, we could see that the bronze was being heated to its melting point. Bronze used for bells is typically about 80% copper and 20% tin. According to Wikipedia, "Bell metal of these ratios has been used for more than 3,000 years, and is known for its resonance and 'attractive sound'." The mixture must be heated to approximately 2,010 °F (1,100 °C) in order to melt.

Here the worker was probing the liquid bronze, removing impurities and checking that all the metal had melted.

Once the metal was ready, they grasped the crucible with this locked carrying tool and placed it on a cradle with long handles which would be used during the pouring process.

One final check...

...and it was time to pour the molten metal into a mold for whatever bell models were being produced that day.

A wider shot shows the number of hands involved in the effort. Don't want any mistakes at this point.

The cast bells require about a day to cool at which point they are removed from the mold and cleaned up. Later, hangers and clappers are attached. As mentioned earlier, patina may be applied prior to sale.

That was quite a show. As we marched to the next point of interest, we climbed stairs that took us up to the roof level of the foundry. Note that in addition to the foundry, workers have apartments in the same structure. Nice to live so close to work.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com