Bell Metal

Bell Metal Sculptures


Bell metal sculptures have been used for décor purposes since time immemorial. Various idols have been sculpted in shapes of Lord Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva and numerous Hindu gods and deities. Bell metal is a type of bronze which was discovered five thousand years ago, even before iron. Initially, as the name suggests, bell metal was used for making bells. It is due to the fact that it is harder than pure iron. Later on, owing to this property of bell metal, it was used for making statues. Some of the world renowned bell metal sculptures are The Riance Warriors, Donatello’s David, Brancusi’s bird in space, etc.

In India these bell metal sculptures are mostly made in the area of Kasargod in the state of Kerala. They are also made in the regions of Chhatisgarh, Bastar and Raigarh in India.

Bell metal statues are available in various finishes such as polished, dull, or multicolored. There is a rare antique finish also available called Kondh. It does not corrode, unlike iron and thus last for generations to come.


Types of Bell Metal Sculptures

The sculptures can be small such as peacocks or elephants which are very famous for home décor. They can also be big idols of Hindu deities. Life sized structures can also be made using bell metal.


Price Range

The cost of bell metal statues can be per piece or per kilogram (by weight). It usually starts at Rs. 1,000 and goes up to Rs. 50,000.


How to Take Care

It is very easy to take care of Bell Metal sculptures because it is a metal, you can simply use soap water and a soft cloth to clean it. Dry dusting would even solve the purpose if it is cleaned regularly.


Uses of Bell Metal Sculptures

People have used bell metal sculptures over many years. Idols for worshipping are made out of bell metal. They are available in all shapes and sizes. Some sculptures, usually in the form of Hindu deities are used for decoration purposes in many households. Not only sculptures, objects like kalash, lamp, symbols like om and swastika are also made using the bell metal. It is also used in churches for making doors, window panels, candlesticks, bible stands etc.


Process of Making Bell Metal Sculptures

The process of making bell metal sculptures is simple. The core consists of clay for simple, easy designs and wax for complex patterns and intricate designs. A network of thin wires is laid on top of the core to provide firmness. Ordinary wax is used for making the hands, legs, feet and head. After this, there are two ways by which the metal can be used. The first way is to beat the metal along the already made rough step. This also involves simultaneous heating for easy setting of the metal over the clay or wax core. Another way is to pour hot, molten metal over the clay core. The first method is preferred as it offers more durability to the sculptures. This whole process is known as cire-perdue or lost wax. This method is the oldest method and was discovered in China.

Once the sculpture is finished with metal, it is treated further to enhance its properties. One such process is called tempering. This gives more strength to the bell metal. This is done by heating the metal until it turns red hot and then immediately dipping into cold water.

Lathe machine is sometimes used for giving smooth curves as and when required. The final finishing process involves polishing the surface using a rag. This gives a smooth even surface.

For smaller objects, moulds made out of clay and husks are used. The molten metal is poured into the moulds, allowed to cool after which the objects are taken out.


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