Foundry & Ceramics

The Foundry

Cosanti Originals Bronze Windbells are known the world over. Made by artisans in the bronze foundry, each Windbell is its own unique piece of art, using one of the thirty-two original Soleri bell patterns to form a sand mold to hold the molten bronze poured from a crucible. Before the liquefied bronze is poured into the sand mold, the foundry artist has etched a pattern of their own design and drawing of geometric shapes and organic motifs. After the molten bronze is poured into a sand mold that has been embellished with an artisan’s unique design that was carved into the sand upside down and inside out, the bronze begins to set and harden immediately. During the finishing process, the surface of the bells are cleaned and either burnished or treated with a chemical to speed the weathering and oxidizing process. Finally, they are fitted with a clapper, a chain, and bronze fins to catch the wind.

The Arcosanti Foundry Apse was built using the unique cast-in-place silt-casting method pioneered by Paolo Soleri. It is here in the Apse (a quarter-sphere) that the outdoor work of making the Cosanti Originals bronze Windbells happens year-round. Facing south, the apse provides much-needed warmth in the winters and shade in the summers through passive solar heating and cooling. As with all structures at Arcosanti, the Foundry Apse is a multi-use live and work space and includes a ring of residential housing units at the back of the structure.

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The Ceramics Apse

Like the Foundry Apse, the Ceramics Apse is the hub for the design and production of the earthen Cosanti Originals Windbells and beautiful hand-carved ceramic tiles. Skilled artisans use a time-honored slip-casting method to create the shapes of the organic-looking bells. When the bell shapes have air dried to an almost leather-like texture, ceramicists individually carve with unique designs inspired by nature, geometry, and the surrounding architecture. Then, as with most ceramics, the bells are fired in a kiln.The ceramic tiles made here feature an interesting array of shapes, sizes, and colors and also represent the surrounding environment and architecture through their design motifs.

The Ceramic Apse, like the Foundry, is constructed of both cast-in-place and pre-cast concrete. The tempered micro-climate created by the south-facing apse allows the ceramic artisans to work comfortably outdoors most of the year. Consistent with the focus on mixed-use spaces at Arcosanti, the amphitheater terracing and movable stage inside the Ceramics Apse can become an improvised or additional performance space for concerts and festivals.

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