Metal Craft Mission Statement
Metal Craft goal is to provide the client not only the bronze statue but also the experience of purchasing such a personal item directly from the artist who brought it to god-like perfection in bronze utilizing a the centuries old Chola Lost Wax Bronze statue craft. Supporting local artists strengthens the roots of local south Indian cultural heritage. When you purchase a statue from us you are directly connecting with the artist that has produced your treasured piece and not retail middleman who really does not know the process or the hours and hours of handiwork that went into statue. The client not only gets the artist contact benefit but can be assured all statues are priced based on the actual cost to produce plus a fair profit and not subject to an arbitrary retail markup in price. And finally you know that the money spent on your piece is going directly to support the artists families and is part of the larger community of Bommayapalayam. Setting our business up as we have lets us not waste time with supplying high price, big house retail outlets, but rather allows us to devote more time to the craft and the production of masterpieces for our clients
Baskar “Ramachandran” & Vasanth path to Bronze
We are a family owned and operated Chola Lost Wax Process Bronze statue foundry. The two Principle artists are Baskar my uncle and myself Vasanth. We were not born into the bronze statue craft we both learned from the same master, a man named Ragan. Baskar apprenticed first and me, Vasanth, shortly after. I will briefly explain how The Metal Craft statue foundry was started.
Baskar : For Baskar like myself, statue making was a completely new endeavor, our family worked mostly in agriculture here in Bommayapalayam, growing mangoes, cashews, ground nuts and the typical dairy operation that supplied the family and workers. One day my neighbor asked if we could supply a man with some red sand which is found in some of our farm lands. As a farm family we have tractor with a hauling cart so Baskar agreed to bring a load of sand the next day. When Baskar arrived at the location to unload the sand it was his first meeting with the man who would become his master teacher in the trade of lost wax bronze statue making. It was a meeting that was going to change the course of his life completely. His curiosity had him asking questions from that very first day. “What will you do with the red Sand?” “I will mix with clay and use the clay to make a mold around a wax model.” The future master replied and he went on to say “this is a Chola lost wax process bronze statue forge.” One question led to another and soon Baskar asked if he could come to watch the next casting, the master agreed and next day he observed melting the bronze and the casting of his first statues. Over the coming months Baskar visited frequently becoming more and more friendly with Ragan and showing the many talents he possessed with his handiwork. Baskar is one of those people who can fix almost anything plumbing, carpentry, motorcycle and automobile repair etc. This fact was noticed by Ragan the master and combined with Baskars complete honesty in all dealings it soon became apparent that Baskar was well suited to learn the lost wax bronze statue making craft. One day the Master, Ragan, said to him, “You could learn this work if you desired. Baskar quickly said yes but had some reservations. “I am interested, but not very sure of my abilities” Ragan replied “If you hard work with full interest you will be a success at whatever you pursue, I have observed you these past months and have made this offer to you based on my observations.” So Baskar set to work with Ragan at his Bommayapalayam workshop. It should be noted at this point that Ragan had only recently, two years or so, located in Bommayapalayam. He had done his apprenticeship and started his own workshop for many years in Swamimalai the home of the Chola Lost Wax Bronze craft. After six months Ragan decided to move back to Swamimalai now that he had a trusted and talented assistant and student. Baskar also went and stayed with Ragan right in the shop. They worked together day and night the Guru and the student enjoying the work and each other’s company. After 3 years of intense work, with only brief visits back to Bommayapalayam for family events, Baskar felt he was ready to venture out on his own. It was then in 2004 that Baskar returned to Bommayapalayam to start the lost wax bronze workshop under the mango trees on has ancestral land right where it is located now on Old Auroville Road. He started by himself and soon found two young men to train as helpers. By Baskar starting the Metal Craft workshop the art of the Lost Wax Bronze statue making process was invigorated with a new talented artist and budding apprentices.
VASANTH : I was 16 years old in school and like many students not really seeing my future in anything I was learning in the classroom setting. In the evening time I would sit in the workshop to observe Baskar and his helpers making beautiful statues and bring happiness to the customers who would come to pick up there artwork directly from the artist. The look on their faces and the words of praise and appreciation when they first saw their piece made me want to join the trade. Besides the artistic impulse that had awakened in me, the thought of possessing a trade that brought people such joy and happiness was enchanting, especially the fact that one could make a living while doing it. It was at this time that I first discussed what I would have to do to learn the trade with my Uncle Baskar. He told me basically the same thing Ragan told him, “If you have thought this through and this is what you want then I would encourage you to pursue this trade. Know that the early years will be hard work and sacrifice but you will be rewarded with a lifelong trade that you will soon become a master like Ragan as the years pass.” I then went to my mom, my father passed away when I was 6 years old, to discuss and to ask permission to stop school and start to learn the trade. Like most Moms she only wanted the best for me but she was really against me stopping my schooling. She said, first finish your education then you if you are still interested you can learn. But being a young man anxious to get on with my life, I asked her forgiveness instead of permission and stopped my schooling to start an apprenticeship in the Chola Lost Wax bronze statue making art. I went to Swamimalai to apprentice with Ragan and mainly focused on the wax modeling aspect of the trade, thinking in my mind that I would team up with Baskar and do the majority of the wax modeling while he would manage the rest of the process and with his special talent for the final detail chiseling we would produce masterpieces worthy of our master Ragan and the glorious history of the Chola Lost Wax bronze process. I stayed in Swamimalai for two years with Ragan before I returned back to Bommiyarplayam to explore the work at the next level. It has worked out pretty much as I had envisioned with me doing the majority of the wax modeling and Baskar managing the workshop and doing the final detail work. As things have evolved, we have opened a sales shop in Pondicherry and the management of the shop and marketing of our statues on social media and this website has also become my responsibility.
One final thought is that by supporting the artists and purchasing a newly created artwork instead of searching for an antique piece lessens the demand for antiques and antiquities. In this sense you are not supporting a demand which has often resulted in many temple thefts in the past, a problem that continues to this day. In this vein we would like to acknowledge the efforts of Vijay Kumer author of the “Idol Thief” a riveting and informative novel about the illegal idol trade and the idol theft case of the century. He consistently identifies suspicious trails of museum and private gallery pieces that lack solid Provenance records and promotes the authorities to pursue photo verifiable cases.