Pilimathalawa Brass Making Industry

Introduction

We are four volunteers for the Urumaya 4.0 project of AIESEC in JLC. We will be visiting several industries in Sri Lanka about which we will write a blog, make a small documentary and have a photo exhibition.

 

Today, on the 8th of January 2018, we visited a 125-year-old industry, the Wiskam brass making industry. Pilimathalawa is a suburb of Kandy in the center of Sri Lanka. The company has a few employees to help making the brass. The beginning of brass making started in Belliatta and Hambanthota. They just made small brass works without any crafts. Then after that when they came here they started to make beautiful and bigger brass works with arts and crafts.

 

Brass is a metallic alloy that is made of copper and zinc. The industry we visited makes brassware in two different ways, by wax moulding and by sand moulding. The brass that is used is bought from Tamil shops. Brass is a typical craft in Sri Lanka. The brass is made into several shapes. As well as stupas, chairs, cupboards, sculptures, ornaments and many more.          On this blog, we will give information on how to make crafts from brass. There are two ways of making brass; wax moulding and sand moulding.

  1. Wax Moulding

The wax moulding process takes about 3 weeks for a small mould. The wax is heated until it becomes soft and then added to the brass shape which is made of clay. When the wax has dried another layer of wax is added and the shape of the brass is created. Then the wax is stacked with soil. The whole thing is heated up, which will make the soil hard and will make the wax melt. The melted wax comes out and leaves space where the liquid brass will be filled into. Only one brass product can be created with this method.

  1. Sand Moulding

The sand moulding process works way more efficient than the wax moulding, it takes about two days and the sand that is used can be re-used for about 20 years. First of all, a wooden box is filled with sand and a mould is added. Then the sand is made flat so the box is totally filled. Another box is put on the first one and filled with sand, they use their feet and a hammer to make the sand hard. After that they open the two boxes to make a way for the brass to go inside, they take out the mould and cover it in talc powder. Then the boxes are put on each other again and it can be filled with liquid brass. The brass cools down within 10 minutes and the sand can be removed.

 

For the brass liquid, they used the rest product of old brass which they put in fire until it becomes liquid. For the fire, they use a blow machine and they use an oil to makes the fire bigger and hotter. It takes 30 to 45 minutes to produce the desired liquid. After that, they put hot liquid brass into the wax mould and into the boxes of the sand moulding process.

 

The sand moulding gives two separate parts of brass, after all brass dries up they unite the two parts of the brass. The two parts become one just like a flower vase, they use pushkara for this welding process. Then they will unite the two parts of the brass by melting more brass over the separated parts. When that brass hardens it will be one whole brass product. After that, they smoothened the surface of the brass using a scrubbing machine. They make several smaller brass products that can be combined into one big finished brass product.

The brass crafts can be bought in several stores around Kandy. A product of around 5 feet tall can be bought for Rs 8000 to 20000. We learned a lot from this trip to the Pilimathalawa brass industry and hope you also learned about it from our blog. Hopefully, the article on this blog can be useful and can be taken a lesson.

Our next blog will be about Mask and Tea factory, you can read about that next week!. See you.

Composed by:
Kunal Panchamia, Anne Zender, Della Cintiya, Mentari Anggun
Project Urumaya 4.0
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