Heavy metal riff, pt. 2

It seems unlikely, here at the buckle maker in the West Midlands, that they’d ever claim theirs the most picturesque trade. But, once a day, just before noon, they have their moment of high drama; a Joseph Wright-worthy moment, when the crucible of molten brass is lugged over from the furnace, and poured slowly into the buckle moulds stacked nearby.

This, then, is how people in the Black Country make buckles. When they sand-cast them, that is — which, as chuntered on about in July, is the most ancient and infallible way of making them. Truly brow-mopping stuff: bringing man, behind leather apron and little else, up close with temperatures in excess of 900°C, all in the name of quality hardware.

This part happens like clockwork — every day, on or around 12 — and is the ritual, the focal, around which the rest of the foundry takes its lead. Indeed, all else — days of polishing, buffing, and hand-finishing the buckles once solidified, and then fitting them onto the trench coat and bellows vest back in London — follows. Mightn’t be so dramatic, what happens next, nor so intense on the smoke and heat front, but it’s not without its moments, either. Keep one eye here and one on Twitter for more in the next few weeks.