Making Space:Sensing Place

In October 2009, along with artist Thurle Wright, I was awarded a Making Space:Sensing Place Fellowship; part of the HAT: Here and There International Exchange Programme, managed by A Fine Line:Cultural Practice. The Fellowship includes residencies with Britto Arts in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with Arts Reverie in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, with The V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London and with The Harley Gallery, Nottinghamshire. Working and collaborating with artists and craftspeople from the UK, Bangladesh and India, responding to the collections and spaces we encounter and sharing these experiences through a touring exhibition and educational workshops.

This blog, which is still developing and being added to, is a record of my experiences during the MS:SP Fellowship. Steven Follen.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Metal Detecting

I spent some time wandering around the old city looking at the metal wares.
The scale and inventiveness of some of the work is impressive.
I came across a workshop making large copper water vessels. In this area of the city many of the pols contain metals  workshops.

This workshop is set up just to make vessels. Metal stakes were set in the ground and used for forming the sheet metal.
The vessels are given as gifts at weddings, a symbol of a wish for a fruitful and healthy life.The vessels are made in a series of different sizes which stack on top of each other.
The vessels make use of small tags to hold the sheets in place whilst soldering.

Edges are rolled on a stake set in the floor

I didn't have a translator with me at the time I visited the coppersmiths, so I am not completely sure which materials are used for the soldering. At first the process looks to make use of tin but the temperatures used and the yellow of the finished seams suggests that the paste applied to the tagged joints includes fine grains of metal including brass, a flux, dissolved in the liquid, as well as other metals to help reduce the melting temperature and oxidisation - (the brass powder is possibly the waste material or filings from another workshop making brass wares nearby).

The granular suspension is applied to the tagged joints then sprinkled with a white powder which could be a salt or possibly silica (white sand) which acts as an additional flux.
Brazing seems more likely considering the hammer work that the vessels receive both within this workshop (in flattening the seams and evening out the joints) and the next, where the vessels are hammered both to work harden the panels and create decorative surfaces.
The pieces are soldered on coke hearths
Whilst one piece is being pre heated to dry out the flux another is being prepared. There is no detailed cleaning up of the joints prior to braising.

Around the corner was another workshop producing the same metal vessels.