Craft

Unchanged Process Since 1646

Brink & van Keulen still practises this craft exactly as it used to. Original moulds from that time are used to make the copper parts. Casting is also still done in the traditional way: in Brussels earth, a greasy type of sand.

This is followed by manual grinding, sanding and polishing until each part has a brilliant, golden-yellow sheen. More than one hundred authentic models are possible in this traditional way, with spans of up to 250 cm. The largest specimens can weigh more than 300 kilograms.

These heavier models have gained a worldwide reputation over the past 60 years. In many palaces, churches and museums they are the shining centrepiece.

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Casting & Production Process

Castings for each element

Copper crowns consist of different parts, such as the arms, the trunk and the sphere. These loose parts are poured with liquid brass into preformed sand. Models (casting moulds) are needed to be able to cast in sand.

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

Pouring boxes for large ball halves should first be left to dry for a few days to allow the moist moulded sand to dry. Sometimes antique models are molded and the original model is printed as a mould in the Brussels earth. After the upper and lower cupboards have been placed on top of each other, two weights of 25 kilos each are placed on the cupboards. This loading takes place to prevent the cabinets from expanding during the casting process.

Copper Melting

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

If the brass is liquid, it must be poured quickly. If the temperature rises too much, too much zinc burns in the alloy.

Casting

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

Opening Castings

After about 20 minutes the two cabinet parts are taken apart. The rough model, the casting, is taken out of the sand to cool down. A lot of work is still needed to get this casting beautiful.

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

Finishing of the casting

When the castings have cooled down, the spouts can be sawn off. The rough casting is then visible. Then the burrs are ground off the casting. The pure round parts of the crown, such as the parts of the trunk, are turned on a lathe on the eye to remove the burrs and the casting skin. In this way, the parts are not completely 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 that smooth the surface. In the case of large copper arms, the parts are soldered together. The brazing method with silver is used.

All parts of the crown, which are ready, are ground and polished until the end result is mirror smooth. Grinding takes place using a belt sander. When polishing by hand, polishing grease is used.

If desired, all parts of the crown can be individually varnished. All parts must be degreased before varnishing. This varnishing is done by coating the individual parts with varnish. The varnish used must be somewhat flexible. If the varnish is too hard, the varnish layer will burst off and oxidation can quickly take place.

Assembly

After the crown has been varnished, the parts are assembled. The assembly of large crowns takes place on site before hanging. Small crowns are assembled in the workshop.
First the trunk is mounted with the copper ball at the bottom. Finally, the arms are mounted to the crown; each at a specific place on the crown. This is done by using identical marks on the arm and the place on the trunk where the arm is mounted.

Electric chandeliers

The arms of electric crowns are bent out of hollow brass tubes. The curls are soldered to the arms. When assembling these crowns, the electrical wiring and lighting elements are invisibly fitted at the same time.

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 copper chandeliers. Through centuries-old knowledge transfer, 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 old Dutch copper 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 fitted with chandeliers and wall candlesticks. As a beautiful embellishment, but also because it is an optimal light source tailored to a space. Every part in a chandelier has its function:

  • The width of the arms determine the wreath of light
  • The shiny copper spheres and hanging brackets reflect the light
  • Floors with arms provide additional light diffusion

 

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