One of the two ways Cosanti Originals bronze windbells can be finished is with a verdigris patina. Most people immediately identify the distinctive weathered, matte green finish with its most famous model, The Statue of Liberty. Though most commonly green, the tones of a patina finish can range from reddish-browns and rosy pinks to vibrant blues and lime greens. Immediately after our bronze windbells are cast, they are brushed clean leaving the luminous bronze alloy. Left alone, it would take many years to naturally develop their distinctive greenish patina because of our Sonoran Desert climate’s low relative humidity. So, to accelerate the oxidation process that creates the beautiful patina finish seen in a rich green here, the bells are briefly dipped in a diluted acid bath. Over time, the colorful hues in the patina finish will become richer and deepen from their exposure to the elements.
Arcosanti: Soleri’s Best-Known Experiment
On a desolate mesa in the high desert of Arizona midway between the sprawling metropolis of Phoenix and the artist enclave of Sedona, Arcosanti stands apart visually and philosophically. It is a vision of what future cities - and the thriving communities supported by them- could look like. Radical in its own time, through the environmental lens of today, Arcosanti is a welcome antidote to the plague of urban sprawl that stresses the planet and fractures a sense of community by putting too much distance between people. Vertical and dense, pedestrian, and integrated, the iconic architecture of Arcosanti was built by 8,000+ volunteers over 50 years, inspired by the arcology theory of architect Paolo Soleri.
The term "arcology" - a blending of architecture and ecology - was Soleri's innovative approach to urban planning that brings people closer to each other and closer to nature through thoughtfully-designed architecture. The architectural examples at Arcosanti exemplify this theory both by being situated amidst a barren, largely unspoiled, natural landscape, and through its structures that are designed to be minimalist and multi-use. In the 1970s, famed New York Times architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable described Arcosanti as an "urban laboratory," and indeed it is that - a proof of concept, an experiment, a lab. Continuously inhabited since 1970 by those who have built its structures and societal infrastructure, today Arcosanti attracts urban planners, architects, and scholars who are inspired by its origin story and marvel that through determination, learning-by-doing, and a willingness to dare for something different, thousands of amateur architects could create an alternative way of life that is materially frugal but experientially enriched.
Cosanti Originals ceramic windbells and vessels are crafted much the same way as Soleri’s experimental structures that visitors to Cosanti encounter. The interesting, organic shapes of the bells and vessels are formed when clay from Globe, Arizona is combined with water to create a mixture called “slip.”. After the slip has been poured into plaster molds or pressed directly into holes made in beds of dampened silt, it is left to naturally begin hardening. When the windbells and vessels have reached a level of firmness and can hold their shapes, the excess slip is siphoned away. With oxide powder sprinkled on their surfaces, they air-dry as the oxide transforms their smooth surfaces into something more earthy and textured. The windbells and vessels start to develop their distinctive natural coloring ranging from reds and oranges to ochre and caramel tones. In the last step before being kiln-fired, artisans carve designs and markings into the leather-hard surface of the windbells and ceramic vessels, drawing inspiration from nature, ancient symbols, and geometric shapes. Made in the same time-honored tradition as when they were first produced at Cosanti in the 1950s, the ceramic windbells and vessel have an unmistakable Arizonan appeal