We travel to Mannar, the heart of Kerala’s ancient metal casting craft, famous for its bells. The birthplace of Mannar’s cottage industry is the family.
Only a few hundred families are involved in the trade, and secrets, skills, figures & calculations of the lost wax process are passed from one generation to the next...
This is how the lost wax process goes: it starts with a clay core covered by a layer of soft wax, on which the intricate details are delicately sculptured. The wax model is then covered by layers of fine clay.
Drain ducts are left for the wax, which melts away when the clay is baked, thus creating a mould for the metal.
The hot molten metal is poured in and hardens between the clay core and mould, taking the shape of the wax.
The outer layer of clay is then chipped of and the sculpture is revealed.
Its placed on the lathe to be hand finished.
The sheer varieties, numbers and sizes of brass & bronze objects crated is amazing. Large cooking vessels, called urlis and brass oil lamps called vilakkus are arranged to be dispatched to shops in Kerala and beyond.
Villakus are common in all South Indian homes, similar to candle stands. Lighting them is a daily practice, a religious ritual assimilated into the pace of everyday.