Lowell House Society of Russian Bell Ringers

Lowell House Society of Russian Bell Ringers

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August 14 (Day 3): Bell Foundry Visit

August 14, 2018

The day started with a service at the monastery to bless the new honey. There is a place in the center of the monastery for holy water that commemorates the millenium of Christianity in Russia. After a procession to there, the water was consecrated and the honey was blessed with the water. Father Roman participated in the service, but we watched from the bell tower, where another monk rang peals during the procession.

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Then, we traveled to the Danilov bell foundry, where the monastery has made bells for three years. The foundry was a humble warehouse in the countryside, about one hour from Moscow. Father Roman explained the extensive, complicated process of making a bell. Though we had many questions, I will do my best to describe it here.

After a design is made with computer models, the false bell is crafted from clay, sand, and gypsum. Then, wax is brushed onto the false bell, and a stencil of the bell profile is used to make sure the wax is applied evenly. Every bell has two profiles, the inside and the outside. Lettering, icons, and other decorations are added with wax. Once the form of the bell is complete, with the false bell and wax decorations, it is covered with many layers of clay. After several layers, a rebar frame is placed around the bell, then covered with more layers of clay and straw.

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To cast the real bell, the false bell covered with clay is heated so that the wax shape of the bell and decorations melts, leaving a negative of the bell profile on the clay. By lifting the rebar frame, the clay mold can then be removed from the false bell. Finally, the metal may be poured between inside and outside clay molds.

The Danilov foundry practices the traditional method of making bells, even using the same composition of bronze as the classical Russian bells. A big birch branch is used to stir the alloy before pouring. The foundry makes bells from about ten pounds to one ton, and each takes about one month.

On the way back to Moscow, we stopped at the beautiful Tsaritsyno palace and park, an estate of the empress Catherine the Great. At the church across the green from the palace, Father Roman designed one of the bells in the tower.img_20180814_165034

After a rest when we returned to Moscow, we enjoyed dinner and tea with Father Roman before some late night lessons to end the day.

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