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.
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.