Craft

Unchanged Process Since 1646

Brink & van Keulen still practices this craft exactly as they used to in 1646. Original molds from that time are used to make the brass parts. Casting is also still done in the traditional way: in Brussels soil, a greasy type of sand.

This is followed by hand grinding, sanding and polishing until each part has a brilliant golden sheen. This traditional method makes it possible to produce over one hundred authentic models with spans of up to 250 cm, the largest of which can weigh more than 300 kilograms.

These heavier versions have acquired a worldwide reputation in the past 60 years. In many palaces, churches and museums they are the shining centerpiece.

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The Casting & Production Process

Castings for each element

Brass crowns consist of several parts, such as the arms, the stem and the sphere. These separate parts are cast with liquid brass in moulded sand. To be able to cast in sand, models (casting moulds) are needed.

A special type of sand is used for casting, Brussels earth. Brussels soil is a mixture of greasy soil and clay, also known as yellow loam or sulphur. With a casting mould, the shape to be cast is pressed into the sand, which is contained in a casting box.

Casting cabinets for large spheres are first left to rest for a few days in order to dry the moist moulding sand. Sometimes antique models are copied whereby the original model is pressed into the Brussels soil as a mould. After the lower and upper cases have been placed on top of each other, two weights of 25 kilos each are put on the cases. This weight is used to prevent the cabinets from swelling during the casting process.

Melting Brass

For casting brass is used. The composition of this alloy is 65% copper with 35% zinc. The brass is delivered in so-called loaves. The brass loaves are melted in a crucible furnace.

If the brass is liquid, it should be poured quickly. If the temperature rises too high, too much zinc in the alloy will burn away.

Casting

Then, using a metal spoon, the liquid brass is scooped out of the furnace and poured into the filling opening of the casting box.

Opening Casting Cases

After about 20 minutes, the two parts of the cabinet are taken apart. The rough model, the casting, is taken out of the sand to cool down. There is still a lot of work to be done to make this casting beautiful.

After casting, the Brussels soil is scooped up and mixed with water. The soil can then be used again for the next casting process.

Finishing the Casting

When the casting has cooled down, the runners can be sawn off. The rough casting is then visible. Then the burrs are removed from the casting. The pure round parts of the crown, such as the parts of the stem, are mounted on a lathe to remove the burrs and the casting skin on sight. Because of this proces the parts are never perfectly identical.

Afterwards, parts that are not easy to smooth such as arms etc. are drummed in a rotating drum for 24 hours. The drum is filled with small polishing stones which smoothen the surface. With large brass arms the parts are soldered together. The brazing method with silver is used.

All finished parts of the crown are ground and polished until the final result is mirror-smooth. Grinding is done with a belt sander. When polishing by hand, polishing grease is used.

If desired, all parts of the crown can be varnished separately. All parts must be degreased before varnishing. This varnishing is done by spraying the individual parts with varnish. The varnish used must be somewhat flexible. If the varnish is too hard, it will crack and oxidation may quickly occur.

Mounting

After varnishing the crown, the parts are assembled. Large crowns are assembled on site before hanging. Small crowns are assembled in the workshop.
First the trunk is mounted with the brass ball at the bottom. Finally, the arms are mounted on the crown, each at a specific location on the crown. Identical marks are placed on the arm and the place on the stem where the arm is mounted.

Electric chandeliers

The arms of electric crowns are bent from hollow brass tubes. The curls are soldered to the arms. When assembling these crowns the electrical wiring and lighting elements are added at the same time and are made invisible.

Our Story

Brink & Van Keulen 1646

Brink & van Keulen 1646 B.V. Originally a family business, Brink & van Keulen maintains the 17th century foundry craft by producing the highest quality brass chandeliers. By passing on centuries-old knowledge, Brink & van Keulen has taken an important role in the preservation of the foundry craft. Brink & van Keulen is specialized in the field of production, restoration, valuation and mediation of traditional Dutch brass chandeliers.
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17th century foundry craft

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Brink En Van Keulen Copper Chandeliers Our Story
Did you know that

Functional light

For centuries, historic buildings have been equipped with chandeliers and wall sconces. As a beautiful embellishment, but also because it is an optimal light source tailored to a room. Each part in a chandelier has its function:

  • The width of the arms defines the halo of light
  • The shiny brass bulbs and suspension brackets reflect the light
  • Levels with arms provide additional light distribution

 

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