The Brass magic

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It was most talked about Kala ghoda festival of Mumbai and the main attractions were Indian handicrafts and Artisans from all over India.
as an Indian my first choice is brassware or mixed alloyed artpices, but this time few brass art pieces were just extra ordinarily impressive.

India is the largest brassware making country in the world. This art has been practiced in India over thousand years. The brassware works are seen in different parts of India. Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh is world famous for its range of brass items.

India is the largest brassware making country in the world. This art has been practiced in India over thousand years. The brassware works are seen in different parts of India. The Northern and North Eastern brass clusters are Moradabad, Aligarh, Hathras and Varanasi in Uttarpradesh, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Sundergarh in Orissa, Jaipur and Jodhpur in Rajasthan, Purulia, Bankura, Birbhumi, in West Bengal and Delhi etc. The important clusters in Southern and Western regions are Hydrabad in Andhra Pradesh, Bidar, Mysore in Karnataka (Bidriwar), Tirupur and Tanjore in Tamil Nadu, Kalyan and Nasik in Maharashtra etc. Moradabad cluster in Uttar Pradesh is world famous for its range of brass items production [1-3]. It is believed that the brassware industry originated from Moradabad and spread to the rest of the country. The brassware industry in Moradabad saw the blooming period in early 19th century and British took the art to foreign markets.

Raw Materials:
Brass metal is an alloy of copper and zinc and the quality of the metal depends on the percentage composition of both these metals. The raw material for production of brass articles are copper and zinc and scrap of brass. The brass are purchased as ingot from local market or supplied by the traders (Mahajan) in the form of scraps and bars. Hard coke is purchased from local market. Different types of coke are available in local market.

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Existing Brass Melting Pit Furnace:
Mostly coke fired pit furnaces are used at different brass cluster in India for brass melting due to low construction and maintenance cost, easy operation compared to other furnace. The crucible is surrounded by coke which in turn is surrounded by an open furnace build by bricks. The pit furnace is prepared by the unit owners as per their traditional process.

Melting:

Initially to lit the furnace a few pieces of wood or cow dung is kept on the grid in combustion chamber. Blower is used to supply air into the furnace and then slowly coke is added. When all the coke catches fire a crucible is placed on the coke bed. Some amount of coke is added surrounding the crucible. When the crucible is red hot brass scrap is added into the crucible.

Additional coke is added in every melting cycle. Maximum 3 to 6 artisans work in a units and it depends casting size and mould making processes. Melting furnace heats the raw material to a temperature of about 950-10000C for melting of brass. Artisans are using borax (Na2B4O7.10H2O) white in color as reducing agents (flux) to remove the impurities from the molten brass as slag floats at top of molten brass. The casting is performed simultaneously every 15-20 min time interval. The melting process is a batch process; it takes time around 10 to 15 min depending upon quantity of raw material under processing.Once the material has been melted it has to be cast into artifacts. The molten brass obtained from melting furnace is poured in suitable moulds that are prepared in different sizes; shapes keeping in view the quantity of the molten alloy are to be poured for different products. The mould is prepared by local sand collected from local river.

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Brass items, be it fittings, showpieces, or antiques, add that elegant feel to every house that never fails to catch the eyes of guests and family members. This alloy of copper and zinc is used in making, decorative items due to its bright gold-like appearance, in making fittings like valves, bearings, doorknobs and so on, for the fact that it supports very less friction, and in making musical instruments for its acoustic properties. Compared to other metals like copper and silver, it is relatively resistant to tarnishing. In fact, polished brass instruments shine like a mirror. The polishing part is, however, the most taxing, as most people do not find time or the necessary materials to effectively clean and polish brass, to make them look like new. As for the time, nothing can be said about it. Cleaning expensive items needs care and thus, time too. One just has to take out time for such jobs, say on a Sunday morning, or while watching television. As for the materials needed, many departmental stores or even hardware stores have brass cleaning solutions. However, if that is not available, it’s not a reason to be disappointed. Even tomato ketchup could be used to clean and polish brass items. Read on to know how to clean and polish brass items.

Tips For Polishing Brass At Home

Materials Required
A can of any brass cleaning solution, best is ‘Pitambari’
Piece of soft cotton cloth
Ear buds
Steel wool
An old toothbrush
How To Do It
To begin with, choose the smooth surfaces on the antique or fitting. Apply a thin coat of brass-cleaning solutions on this area.
Now, using a soft, clean piece of cotton, rub the solution into the metal and rub till you get the original colour of the brass object. It may do you good to remember, that the polish is very powerful, and even a small amount of it, will yield results, thus use it sparingly.
Wipe away the residue of polish from the surface; as otherwise, it could cause your brass item to turn blue.
Now, concentrate on the nooks and crannies, or any zigzag or other patterns on it. Using a small amount of solution on the ear buds, carefully and firmly wipe away between the crooks and corners; remember to wipe away the residue.
In case any greasy fingerprints accumulated on the surface, wipe them away using a soft tissue paper.
After the entire residue has been cleared, take the steel wool and rub gently on the surface. Make sure you do this extremely carefully, as you could damage it otherwise.
Be especially careful about musical instrument. When done careful, rubbing steel wool gives the metal the mirror-like shine.
With Ketchup!
The reason why tomato ketchup can be used to clean and polish brass items is because of its acidic consistency. It may be effective but a lot of muscle strength, in the form of firm scrubbing, will be required. After rubbing away the black stuff that accumulates on top, wipe away the residue of ketchup with a damp cloth, and then use the steel wool again …

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