Drove the 40 miles from Bar Harbor to Prospect Harbor today to meet Dick Fisher, the bronze smith who designed the bell I bought in Camden roughly ten years ago. U.S. Bells, which is what Dick calls his nearly 40-year-old foundry, is a 5-person operation when it’s in full swing, but the tourist season is well over, so today Dick was by himself. He showed me how he makes molds by pressing patterns into trays of South Carolina sand.
The furnace wasn’t running today, but he did explain how the size of bell he can cast is limited by the capacity of the crucible he uses to melt bronze. He can melt 100 pounds of bronze at once, which translates into a maximum bell size of 75 pounds because all the bronze for a bell must be poured into the mold at one time. No second chances. He makes very few 75-pounders, though. The bells he sells nationally top out at around 8 inches in diameter, each one a work of art hand-crafted in the ancient tradition. He gave me a few pieces of bronze splatter as souvenirs. He also recommended that I visit nearby Schoodic Point, a granite and fir tree-covered outcropping at the southern tip of the peninsula. I spent several hours there enjoying the sound of the ocean and the gulls.
Now seems as good a time as any to mention that there are no fewer South-facing Union soldier statues in New England than there are North-facing Confederate soldier statues in the Bible Belt. Today I saw two, one erected in 1897, the other in 1912. I wonder if there ever will be another war as widely and grandly memorialized as the Civil War? It must have been beyond anything we can imagine today.
(Images in this blog entry are clickable for larger versions.)