October 19th, 2021 Newsletter

October 19th, 2021 Newsletter

Artisan Spotlight: Dave Tabor...Keep Calm and Carillon...Annual Bronze Bell Sale Coming Soon
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October 19th, 2021 Volume 21


Dave Tabor

No Kidding: The “Clown of Cosanti Originals” is a Talented Bellmaker

Dave Tabor isn’t the first artisan, and probably won’t be the last, at Cosanti Originals who traded his cubicle for a crucible. Frustrated after quitting an unfulfilling office job 15 years ago, Dave knew he wanted to do something entirely different. Originals' want ad for bronze foundry artisans stirred something in Dave, who’d always thought of himself as creative and “up for anything.”


He decided he’d try it out for 6 months to a year. Spoiler: Dave’s been at Cosanti (for the most part) ever since, working hard and casting heavier bells as the years go on. “These bells really are handmade,” he says, smiling. "There's a lot of elbow grease and shoulder pain that goes into each one.”


Dave was surprised by how much he liked the sweaty, physical job of working in the foundry, especially being outdoors year-round in the Arizona heat. The camaraderie that Dave shares with his coworkers is like nowhere else. “These are my friends and that makes work really fun. I like to keep it lively,” says Dave, “I’m the clown of the group, always cracking jokes.” Cosanti Originals General Manager, Vickie Mayer, says walking by the foundry is like walking by a podcast because “Dave’s talking the whole time!”

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Dave nicknamed his style “Gouge City,” because of the deep indentations he chisels into the foundry sand molds that, when cast in bronze, produce thick, chunky shapes on the surface of each windbell. Dave recalls watching Paolo Soleri create the huge cement monoliths with similar large, bold raised elements for the Soleri Bridge and Plaza along the waterfront in Scottsdale. “When they unearthed the slabs, which were cast in big sandboxes, essentially, I saw the same deep grooves that had developed to become my carving style...just on a much larger scale,” he says.

Today, Dave’s favorite bell to design is the #129 windbell because it has a big opening and produces an even ringtone. “I let the shape of the bell dictate the design,” he says, “The #129 and I have a good relationship.” After 15 years of designing windbells, you’d think that fresh inspiration wears thin somewhere that individually handmakes over 300 windbells per week. But Dave finds the creative catalyst for his bell-making in so many places - the techniques of his fellow artisans; his hobby of crocheting; exploring nature; photography; and the abstract architecture that surrounds him.


Pausing to reflect on how each windbell is a work of art, handmade in a tradition that goes back decades, Dave says, “These bells last forever. They’re heirlooms, really because they are passed down through generations... the thought that someone chooses my bell from all the rest and it becomes a family treasure, well, that’s a really special thing.”

Photo credits (top to bottom): David Blakeman (2), Jessica Jameson (2)

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Keep Calm and Carillon

No Bats, Just Bells in the Belfry

While Holland, Belgium, and northern France have laid claim for centuries to having the most carillons in the world, the ancient instrument has a resounding (pun intended) presence in the United States, including right here in the Valley.


Every day, from Notre Dame to Norwich and Baylor to Berkley, and at more than 70 other colleges or universities in the US, the sound of carillons can be heard ringing out the hour or marking significant moments like graduation, holidays, or convocations. Carillons can also be found at churches, town squares and parks, where concerts of both secular and spiritual music written for the carillon is played. The carillon pictured above is the focal point of Carillon Park in Dayton, Ohio.

Carillon Luggage


Carillons are among the largest and heaviest of all the musical instruments. Often tipping the scales at 50 tons or more, carillons feature at least 23 harmonically tuned, bronze bells of varied sizes housed in a bell tower. Different from what you might think when you picture bells being rung by hand with heavy ropes in a belfry, carillon bells are stationary and don’t swing to make their ringtones.

So how do they ring? Similar to playing an organ, a carillonneur, (or someone who plays the carillon) can create chords, harmonies, and melodies by depressing keys and foot pedals on a keyboard that cues a complex system of internal clappers or external hammers to sound the bronze bells. The more bells, the more complex arrangements can be played and the more experienced carillonneur can play the instrument.

Without a Carillon the World


Hyechon College in Taejon, South Korea has the largest carillon (pictured left) in the world with an impressive 78 bells according to the World Carillon Federation. Among the 180+ carillons in the US, the biggest are at Riverside Church in New York City and the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America maintains records on carillons in all fifty states, as well as the surprisingly numerous carillon studies programs at US colleges and universities, and the rich history of these special bells throughout the world.

It may surprise you to know that in Paradise Valley, just about two miles from Cosanti, is Arizona’s first – and only – cast-bell carillon at St. Barnabas on the Desert Episcopal Church. Its 25 bells mark the hour from 9am to 6pm throughout the week and on Sundays, the St. Barnabas carillon delights everyone within earshot when it is played manually before the midmorning church service. 

Photo credits (top to bottom): City of Dayton, Ohio; The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (2); Wikipedia; the City of Paradise Valley.

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Artisanti Editor & Creative Director: Kelly Bird

Contributing Writer: Chloe Sykes

Graphic Designer: Jesca Wales

Photo credits: David Blakeman (header), Jessica Jameson Photo (footer)