Meet Akwasi Noreur, a brass craftsman from a village called Krofofrom. Krofofrom is famous for its brasswork and in particular a centuries-old technique called “lost-wax casting,” a seemingly magical art that Akwasi was kind enough to demystify for us.
First things first: a wax model of the desired object is made. Akwasi mostly makes designs passed down to him from his father (also a brass craftsman) and many of them are about old Ashanti proverbs, including our favorite about an Ashanti King and his high priest dressing up like women.
Next, the model is covered with ash and clay. You can’t be a master brass craftsman without getting your hands dirty.
Once the clay hardens, it’s put in the fire, causing the wax to melt. The resulting mold is then filled with molten brass. Akwasi does this work in the shady enclosure of a sweet-smelling banana grove, which beats a cubicle any day.
After the brass has cooled, the clay mold is broken open and tada!—you end up with stuff like this. Neat, huh?
It may look simple, but being a master brass craftsman takes practice, practice, practice. Akwasi, who was seven years old when his father taught him the art of lost-wax casting, is now almost forty and has six children of his own—three sons and three daughters, though only the boys will learn the craft because brass-working is considered “men’s work.” He might, however, have rebellion on his hands; we met one son, who said he would much rather be a soccer player.