The history behind our bells
The artistry of our bells
The artist crafting these masterpieces
The History - Why Bells?
Paolo Soleri, the founder of Arcosanti, started making bells long before building his most famous architectural work Arcosanti, an Urban Laboratory and concept of compact city design.
With dirt and water, he simply dug a hole, poured in clay, and made a bell. This bricolage approach with maximum resource efficiency became the norm in his work. He saw that the bell is a great miniature example of an apse, and knew he could prototype aspects of large buildings on a smaller scale with bells.
His bellmaking also demonstrated another important aspect of his process: teaching and including others in his projects. Soleri trained other bellmakers and eventually made a bell-making business that he used to fund his architectural experiments.
Today, this bell-making business is a core pillar of the Cosanti Foundation, which supports the development of Arcosanti. Working to explore the experiential and educational benefits of integrating Architecture and Ecology, the Cosanti Foundation strives to seek equitable and sustainable relationships between human activities and the Earth’s ecology.
Bell-making and sales allow the Cosanti Foundation to continue to flourish and expand their discovery and impact while also providing custom, one-of-a-kind artistry.
Windbells - Inspiration from the Architecture
The unique architecture of Arcosanti inspires the craftspeople to find their own desert Protopic style, using glyphs that are inspired by the architecture and surrounding environment unique to each individual craftsperson. Two styles of bells are hand-crafted at Arcosanti:
The foundry workers use “sand casting” to make the bronze bells. They start with a mold to form the shape and then carve unique designs into the sand. After stacking the sandboxes in a long row and heating the bronze, workers stop and watch as two foundry workers pour liquid bronze into a hole at the top of the boxes.
Our ceramicists carefully craft bells with slip casing and plaster molds techniques to create one of a kind works of art. For slip casing, we pour clay into a hole in the dirt, similar to how Soleri initially did. We then remove the bell, dust the surface, and carve custom designs. For plaster molds, the ceramicists use a plaster form to shape the outside and then carve their custom designs. We then fire ceramic bells in a kiln to harden them.
The Artists - Crafting Masterpieces
The artists making the bronze and ceramic bells often have tens of thousands of hours of experience. Some have 30+ years of experience! Each artist develops a specific style, and some develop a following of people who love and purchase their specific bells.