It is always a privilege to visit Soleri Studios in Paradise Valley, Arizona, where the famous Soleri windbells are cast. The studio structures are formed from earthcastings, concrete cast in pre-shaped earthen forms. The concrete is then extracted from the earth and used to form ceilings, canopies and various wall structures. The site is a park like setting of architectural structures and is open to the public. It offers a gift shop where various bronze and ceramic bells can be purchased.
Recently, I had the opportunity for the first time to watch the bronze bells being cast with hot, molten bronze. It takes a couple hours for the bronze bricks to liquify before being poured into the waiting molds. Several iterations of melting and pouring take place for each casting session. Once poured, the castings are left in the molds to cool. Even in the heat of the Arizona desert, the bronze will crack if released from the molds too soon. Since it takes hours for the bronze to cool, I was not able to view the bells cast on our visit.
The studios are full of previous castings. Bells hang everywhere inside and out, on trees and walls. The bells ring clear and crisp with a variety of tones that are truly musical. Unfortunately, it is not possible to capture the full beauty of the bells in a photograph.
I encourage you to visit the studios on your next trip to the Phoenix area.
Paolo Soleri, June 1919 – April 2013
A student of Frank Lloyd Wright, Paolo Soleri embarked on his own architectural journey in research and experimentation in urban planning. His legacy is captured in the Cosanti Foundation’s Arcosanti, a prototype town in central Arizona.
A project in his native Italy, designing and building a large ceramic’s factory, led to his award winning designs in ceramic and bronze windbells. These are often gifted as the perfect remembrance of a visit to Arizona as they are literally formed out of the Arizona dirt. Proceeds from the sale of these bells have supported the research and expansion at Arcosanti.