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Jakarta Post

Church bellmaker

Fri, February 9, 2018   /   04:37 pm
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    A worker moves a 170 kg bronze bell to be polished. The price of the bell is Rp 65 million. JP/Magnus Hendratmo

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    Sparks fly when a worker polishes the bell. He faces the wall so he can collect the leftover material. JP/Magnus Hendratmo

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    A bronze church bell 67 cm in diameter is finished being polished and is ready for the next step. JP/Magnus Hendratmo

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    A bronze smelting furnace is one of Achmad's experiments in his home industry. JP/Magnus Hendratmo

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    A worker sticks letters on the bell’s surface. Usually the church’s name is spelled out. JP/Magnus Hendratmo

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    A worker uses a grinder to smooth the surface of the bronze bell. JP/Magnus Hendratmo

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    The bell’s sound does not change despite being carved. JP/Magnus Hendratmo

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    Church bells in different sizes are displayed and ready for delivery to customers. JP/Magnus Hendratmo

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    A bell is stamped with the identity of the customer and the year of its manufacturing. JP/Magnus Hendratmo

Magnus Hendratmo

Achmad coincidentally met a high school friend five years ago, who informed him that a pastor in Papua was looking for a church bellmaker. After considering to his friend’s information, Achmad decided to learn and experiment with making a church bell.

Living in Batur village, Ceper district, Klaten regency, in Central Java, Achmad lives in an area where metalworking home industries are mushrooming. His father helped teach him how to make church bells.

He failed numerous times but did not give up until he became a church bellmaker. He makes church bells in different sizes and shapes, but usually refers to Dutch church bells. The smallest of his church bells has a diameter of 30 centimeters and weighs 25 kilograms. The biggest has a 100-cm diameter and weighs 400 kg.

The price of a church bell also varies, depending on the size and model. The cheapest is around Rp 65 million (US$4,815) while the most expensive one can reach Rp 180 million, with a diameter of 100 cm and weighing 320 kgs.

Achmad needs around two tons of bronze to produce 10 church bells in different sizes. The bronze will be put into molds made of aluminum, sand and mud.

Despite difficulties getting bronze, Achmad still gets orders to make church bells. He never promotes his product and relies only on word of mouth. [yan]