Little Brass Bell
Traditional little brass bells are used to decorate houses or Buddhist temples and architecture as wind chimes because the gentle tinkling sound they make when moved by the breeze is pleasing to the ears. The principal production source is located in Khao Loi Mun Kho Village, Don Tako Sub-district, Mueang Municipal District of Ratchaburi Province.
Little brass bells made in the foundries in Don Tako District uses locally found raw materials: clay, cow’s dried dung, rice husks, nam man chan and cow’s fat. The raw materials that have to be brought from outside the community are: brass alloy for use in casting bells and the plates of pure brass for making the hangings under the clappers or luk fat. These hangings, called Bai Pho (leaf of a Bodhi tree), are made in the traditional shape of a Bodhi tree’s leaf, which looks like an inverted teardrop. One hanging is attached below each clapper of a bell so that it catches the breeze and moves the clapper.
The production process starts from making a model in clay. The model is chased well before being coated in molten wax. The hook is fixed and the model is decorated with any motif as desired. Fine clay mixture or din nuan (a mixture of finely sieved clay, cow dung and water) is applied to make what is called a “ceramic shell mould”. When it is dry, a mixture of clay, sand and rice husks is used to coat it; and the mould is heated to lose the wax (lost wax process), leaving a hollow shell inside. Molten brass alloy is then poured into the hollow ceramic shell mould and left to cool slowly. The clay mould is later broken to show a little brass bell inside. The bell is chased and polished before a clapper and a bai pho are finally attached to the bell.
The casting of these little brass bells uses traditional method and the craftsmen must be skilled and knowledgeable about the precise size and dimension of the bell, the clapper and the bai pho, which must correspond well to one another to produce resonating tinkle that can carry far.