Journey to Java (Indonesia) 2024

Journey to Java (Indonesia) 2024

The image above is of hundreds of molds waiting to be be fired to remove the wax and make them red hot, ready to have the molten bronze poured in the small holes you can see in them.
Bronze Casting has been going on in Java Indonesia for over 1,000 years. The process today is pretty much the same as it was 1,000 years ago. Unlike many other industries, there are not many businesses that cast bronze, so going and seeing how someone else does it is very difficult. When the opportunity to go and visit Java and see bronze foundries at work came up. We jumped at the chance to see how bronze has been cast for thousands of years by families who have passed the skill down for generations. I am not sure how you can get more expert than that in the world of Bronze casting and art.
We had flown into Bali a few days before we went to Java to meet up with people there and see some new products we were interested in.
We had known there were bronze foundries in Java but other than knowing a general direction, we had no idea where they were. The bronze foundries in Java rarely advertise their presence on the internet and of the photos and videos we did find, some of them were years old - anything could have happened.
We checked on Google Maps and it said it was a little over 10 hours of riding a motorbike to get from Bali to the area we wanted to travel to in Java. If you have never driven in traffic in Asia, 10 hours (excluding breaks) on a Honda scooter in Javanese traffic is a crazy long time. It worked out that 10 hours riding, takes 15 hours after breaks and delays are taken into account. Below is what we looked like after 11 hours on the bike, our faces covered in grime, this KFC had the first western toilet we found.
Four hours after this photo was taken we arrived at our hotel. We rode the last two hours of our journey in the dark while a tropical thunderstorm raged above us and drenched us completely.
When we walked into the reception the clerk behind the counter looked at us weirdly, which was to be expected:
  1. We were walking like cowboys from sitting on a scooter seat since 5 in the morning and it was now 8pm.
  2. We were completely saturated while wearing raincoats we purchased from the side of the road and covered in road dirt and grime
  3. I was shivering because I was so cold
  4. The hotel was this beautiful 4 star hotel and we were making a mess all over their floors.

My assumptions were wrong, after starting the check-in process, the clerk told us that we were the first western tourists he had seen at the hotel. How cool is that. This hotel was an island of luxury in a sea of Javanese homes and commerce. While it was a 14 story building, if you had blinked you would have missed it.

Once we were checked in, we went to our room and had the most glorious hot shower ever, a quick bite to eat and went to bed. The next day we had planned another 10 hours of riding in an effort to find a bronze foundry.

We found a bronze foundry within an hour of riding the next morning, tucked away down a side street of a side street. We found several more bronze foundries that day which was fantastic. How we found them was drive up and down a labyrinth of streets for hours on end looking for anything bronze, the smell of a bronze foundry or a sign that said anything about statues.

Our YouTube Channel has a bunch of videos of what we saw

Here are some of the photos we took that day.

Teddy master mold made from wax and polystyrene

 

Britt (left) and Nathan (right) at a bronze foundry in Java

 

The firing kiln for the molds running

 

The red hot molds from the firing kiln being lined up ready to have bronze poured into them

 

Molten bronze being prepared before being poured into the molds

 

Liquid bronze being created

 

 

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