Finance and Business

How The World’s Oldest Bell Foundry Stayed In Business For Nearly 1,000 Years | Still Standing

the oldest bell foundry in the world has been using ancient techniques since the middle ages it takes at least three months to make a bell by hand and each one is unique the workshop has survived nearly 1 000 years of wars and hardship but it’s a crisis of faith that’s putting pressure on the business today we went to anjone in southern italy to learn how this traditional bell foundry is still standing the marinelli family has been running the factory for 26 generations armando marinelli sketches bell designs by hand the same way his ancestors did it very large bells are cast in a pit like this but it rarely happens nowadays that’s because the foundry only operates when there’s demand but the process of making smaller bells is pretty much the same already the bottom and the top cup create the shape of the bell the middle layer looks exactly how the final bell will look but it’s made of clay so it will eventually be destroyed to make way for the bronze they start off by building the bottom cup using bricks and clay it’s a painstaking job to make sure the pile is level then a worker slathers it with clay to create the middle cup or what they call the false bell a wooden ruler called the strickle sets the exact shape height and weight of the final piece this is the part that will be destroyed later but before we get there they have to bake the clay from the inside out until it’s solid while the false bell dries sculptors prepare the decorations they can use pre-made plaster molds or cast new ones they place the pieces of wax on the false bell next they apply more clay to form the top cup called the mantle it provides the outside shape of the bell with the wax designs embossed into it once this dries they lift the mantle to expose the fall spell then it’s finally time to destroy it to make way for the bronze this is what a small scale fusion looks like larger bells need a lot more bronze once the metal hardens they lift the mantle and reveal the final bell for smaller bells they break down the mantle by hand the family’s attention to detail is clear when they forge the handle and iron finally workers like antonio delli cuadri polish the finished bells until they shine familiar he’s been working here for six decades and at 84 years old he’s technically retired but he takes pride in tuning the bells he also leads tours around the workshop on average a 100 kilogram bell costs around 3 000 euros and since it takes months to craft a single bell they only make a few a year pando america um the marinellis still face competition from other foundries who have modernized many rely on heavy machinery and reusable molds armando says he could modernize like this too but only as a last resort when the family business started bells had a very important role in mass communication imagination [Music] today marinelli bells ring from iconic places like the leaning tower of pisa and the vatican and it’s this historical connection to the catholic church that has kept the foundry running for so long the church has accounted for about 90 percent of the foundry’s business in recent decades in 1924 pope pius xi granted the marinellis an official recognition which is and they’ve cast many celebratory bells over the years like the one for pope john paul the second millennium jubilee on but the foundry has also seen desperate times throughout its long history nazi troops occupied it in world war ii and then a fire in the 1950s destroyed the original foundry and many of its historical records now in the 21st century armando was looking for ways to keep the business afloat [Music] [Music] christianity’s popularity is declining in many countries across the world especially places like the us and western europe that have historical christian majorities with fewer churches being built demand for bells is low also quality bronze bells like the marinellis can last centuries so the family is diversifying they’ve created a museum inside the foundry to attract more tourists they also take some lucrative sculpting jobs armando’s son ethere is one of the foundry sculptors so for now he’s sticking with making all these designs by hand overall the family’s focus is on creating art so the marinellis have faith that the timeless nature of their work will help them survive [Music] the campa foreign [Music] [Music] you
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0gzBdvAoO4

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