That fascinating foundry, part 2

Friday, they were melting copper and zinc, in a ratio of 8:2, to produce brass. (I was really paying attention!) It is heated with gas to 1000 degrees centigrade. To check the temperature, they put a long  iron bar into the crucible, and seem to judge by the colour of that bar when they remove it.

Today, they are using copper and zinc, to produce brass

Today, they are using copper and zinc, to produce brass

He is checking the temperature

The iron ladles are being heated for their responsible task.

Here are some of the many forms, waiting to receive their gift of the molten metal.

These forms contain large moulds, for lamp supports in the Piazzetta San Marco.

Pouring the molten metal. For the large objects, both men poured at once, to ensure successful fusing. Notice the weights placed on the forms, to stop them from moving/separating.

It got very foggy in there, with the steam rising from the sand. They turned on a ventilation fan, and it soon cleared. But we were covered in the white fallout! (Oh, my poor red jacket.)

When the metal is poured, it is red hot. In a short time, it begins to cool to its golden colour.

Once the pouring is finished, they go back to the first forms, pick them up (very heavy) and take them to an area where they bang out the sand (which is recycled) and the form. This looked like such heavy work, with so much bending, lifting and banging. Not a job for someone with a weak back.

Here’s the little product they made to show me how it is done. It still needs some work done to it: cut off the pouring channel and rough bits and polish it.

Some of the things they made that day.

Here’s one of the big pieces that needed 2 men to pour, lift the forms, etc.

There is so much more I could tell you, and show you. But it really deserves to be seen in person, if you can. Wear old clothes, don’t get in their way!

I salute these hard working, hospitable artisans. Thank you for allowing a stranger into your workplace.

Their website:



Filed under Venice

15 responses to “That fascinating foundry, part 2

  1. Pingback: Favourite topics revisited | Hello World

  2. Pat, I went to their website (in the post above), and sent an email to their contact address. They seem to do the fusion every 2 weeks, so I was lucky to hit the right time.


  3. Pat

    Just catching up again and I don’t know if I missed it or not, but can anyone go to see this? If so, how? What an experience!


  4. Quietly these bits of Venetian history steal away, Steven.

    Fausto’s (really good!) blog link is

    You can spend forever digging through his archives, Steven. And, you can practice your Italian comprehension, also, before resorting to a translation. 🙂

    How are preparations going for lo spettacolo??


  5. Steven

    I think you mused, rhetorically, on an earlier post about whether the foundry or the squero was more interesting but I’m so happy to have seen your report & photos of both. I had no idea.

    I’m sorry to hear about the San Barnaba barge, though. Hard to imagine it not there.

    PS What is the address of Fausto’s blog?


  6. The local crafts are no doubt diminishing, as the generations change. If you follow Fausto’s blog, you’ll know that another Venetian tradition fades away on Saturday when the barge and the shop selling fruit and vegetables near Campo Santa Barnaba close.


  7. Michelle

    Just amazing! Thanks, Yvonne. I agree that it is nice to know these things are crafted locally.


  8. A hot and smelly job, I’m thinking!


  9. Thank you for the clothing tip – I wouldn’t have thought of that!! What a lovely glimpse into such valuable work. Artisans. You’re making the most of every moment, aren’t you, Yvonne. I hope Licorice is keeping well.


    • Shell, it was an amazing opportunity. I keep thinking about it.

      Licorice … oh, my gosh, I think he’s under the pillow instead of on top. Thanks for reminding me.

      Have a lovely Aussie Christmas, bella. 🙂


  10. Rob C


    That was truly interesting, it’s good to see the local lamp fittings made locally, I’d hate to see where the ones in Canary Wharf are made, some province in PRC I expect!

    Anyway, we’re off to the airport tomorrow night, and on Friday we’re off to Venice!!! One whole week based in Guidecca(again).

    See you next week?



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