How It's Made: Aluminum Atelier AluMada


All of Distaff&Spindle's Smelted Aluminum Products (anything that looks silver in our collection :-) ) is handmade from smelted tin-cans at AluMada's 'Founderie de L'Ocean Indien' (Foundry of the Indian Ocean) a small family-run, Woman Owned workshop located just off Ivato Road in Antananarivo, the Capital City of Madagascar. Here you can see photos of the making process and read about the background of this creative enterprise.
I have included a blog post I wrote about our field trip to the founderie in 2014 and an excerpt from an AluMada publication, and the photos I took of the making process. There are many such Aluminum Making locations in Mada, as the Malagasy use Smelted Aluminum to create much of their daily equipment including cooking pots, cutlery, serving spoons, catch-all dishes, as well as decorative items like Zebu Statuettes, candle sticks, wall ornaments, etc. 
setting the mold
Setting the Mold. This is Mr. Rakotomalala. He is the Master Artisan of the AluMada Smelting process. 
inserting the liquid aluminum tube
Inserting the tube, which creates a path for the liquid aluminum to pour into the empty mold space within the box of special smelting sand.
pressing the special mold dirt
Pressing down the special mold sand to ensure the mold has no cracks or holes. Not shown, Mr R. carefully lifts the top half of the box, removes the model which creates the desired form, and replaces the top box. This creates a void within the center of the box into which the molten metal will be poured to recreate the form.
taking the molten aluminum from the fire
Taking the molten aluminum from the fire
pouring molten aluminum into the hollowed mold
Pouring molten aluminum into the hollowed mold
pouring the overflow back into the canister to use later
Pouring the overflow back into the canister to use later
another mold cast
Another mold cast
casting a zebu statue
Casting a zebu statue. Pressing the model firmly into the sand.
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In the bottom half of the sand mold Mr. R is pressing in the model of the item he wants to replicate, in this instance, a Zebu Statue.
melting the aluminum
Melting the aluminum over open fire
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My Family on our field trip to Atelier AluMada where the hand-cast aluminum items are made. Here we are watching Mr.Rakotomalala cast a zebu statue.
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Pouring the molten metal into the newly formed mold within the crude box of casting sand.
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Mr. Rakotomalala, the Master Artisan who casts the aluminum shapes in his sand molds.
grinding and polishing beads
Once the shapes are cast and removed from the sand mold, they are passed on for cutting + polishing. These, above, are a 'string' of beads cast in one form. The artisan is slicing the beads off and will polish them smooth.
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Beads, handcast from smelted aluminum, cut and ready for polishing. These are the same beads I use to make Distaff&Spindle's necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.
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Blog Post January 2015
There are a few shops on the side of the road selling aluminum products - pots, utensils, decoration items + jewelry - in the Ivandry area of Antananarivo (or, Tana, for short), the capital city of Madagascar. Most of these things come from Ambatolampy, a town along the road to Antsirabe, south of Tana.
Josh, visiting one such vendor, discovered that the atelier (workshop) could make any product in aluminum if they had a model. He covertly swiped one of my wooden candlesticks and had the artisans at Alumada make copies in aluminum as a Christmas present for me. (Pretty creative idea, i thought :-) ). After seeing the work at the atelier himself, he thought it would be a neat family field trip for the boys to watch the products being made by hand. We made such a visit in January where I took these photos.
Aluminum products will be new additions in the Distaff&Spindle 2015 sale(s) and I'm hoping we can begin a new business relationship with them.
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Stephanie and I on my last visit to Madagascar to pick up stock in January/February 2020, 5 years after we began our business-friendship. :-)
I am so pleased to continue my partnership with Stephanie + her Artisans at AluMada. She has shown me her commitment to providing good working conditions + life sustainable income for her employees.
AluMada is Woman Owned, and staffed entirely of Malagasy Artisans. I am 'merely' a fan and supporter of their work, and have developed my own unique jewelry and decorative pieces from the building blocks they so skillfully create. 
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Alumada has a unique history as Stephanie, the current owner's grandfather, is known to be the initiator of the craft in Madagascar:

The Grandfather of the current artist, was born in 1919 in Ambatolampy. In 1939, requisitioned by the French, he joined the front in Europe. On his return in 1942, inspired by what he had seen in the world and the remains of the work of Jean Laborde, he imagined building a smelter. His early works were of bronze bells. Suspected by the French of supplying arms to the Malagasy insurgents, he was imprisoned for 2 years in Antananarivo. He escaped in 1949 and hid in the mountains near Ankaratra to be forgotten. He returned in 1951 and quietly resumed his passion: the foundry. Thus are born the first pots Ambatolampy ...

During the First Republic, Mr. RANDRIANANTOANINA was awarded the distinction of the Malagasy National Order. He died in 1993 after submitting his expertise to several generations of workers, and children including his granddaughter, Stephanie Ramanantoanina.

Foundry today:
In the tradition of her father and grandfather, Stephanie Ramanantoanina is now developing a line of statuettes, ashtrays, unique decorative objects, and Aluminum jewelry. Stephanie's creativity and craftsmanship aspect of production also allows for customization of some of these objects (text, company logo, lacquering, packaging, ...).
Stephanie and her team of Alumada attach particular attention to the source of their raw materials (aluminum, copper, bronze, ...). The Alumada team uses only food aluminum (white aluminum from beverage cans) to make their jewelry, which is safer to wear and less likely to cause allergies. Alumada opens its doors to visitors to discover not only its products, but also the magical world of craft founders of Madagascar.

100% aluminium recyclé

100% création origina

100% équitable

Taken and adapted from http://www.hotel-niaouly.com/article-fonderie-d-aluminium-d-art-a-antananarivo-122819674.html

 
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