At our workshop in Kenya, traditional and time-honoured techniques prevail over machines and mass production. Pieces are carved, beaded, casted, soldered, hammered, wrapped and shaped by the artisan’s very own hands, creating a truly unique end product that cannot be replicated by a machine.
Today we are taking a look at the ancient method of sand casting which is one of Alpha XR’s signature techniques, prevalent in many of our brass jewellery designs. Dating back centuries, sand casting is believed to have originated in China around 645 B.C. and is now a globally-practiced technique for artisans working with iron, bronze, brass and aluminium.
At the beginning of the process, the initial mould is carved from car filler. This mould is then imprinted in a mixture of fine sand and molasses to create a cavity that will later be filled with molten brass.
Meanwhile, pieces of locally-sourced, recycled brass are smelted by the artisan in the furnace. Once smelted, the molten brass is poured by hand into each cavity.
The brass is left to cool down and solidify in the moulds. Once the brass is cool, the casted pieces are taken out of their moulds and each one is then filed and sanded.
If the casted pieces require further shaping, they are placed on top of a coal fire to anneal and then individually adjusted with pliers. A hole is drilled into the casted pieces and each is threaded with a hand cut jump ring so that chain can be attached. The finished products are then polished and packed.
The sand casting process places emphasis on care, quality, precision and the sustainability of recycled materials. The physical and time-consuming nature of the process conjures an intimacy between the artisan and the piece they are creating which is inherent in the finished product. As well as this, our customers are guaranteed a product that is truly unique as the essence of sand casting sees that no two pieces are ever the same.
Shop our favourite sand casted pieces below: