And now to the clock making part of my story: The first thing you notice when you see the brass of an antique object, especially when it's polished, is the pale yellow colour of the brass. Very different from the modern brass we use, which has more red in it. So I had to find brass that matches the authentic colour of which the original clocks were made. As I would soon discover it's very difficult to find the right-coloured brass in the proportions I needed. That is why I started to experiment with casting my own metal. Brass is an alloy in which the most important elements are copper and zinc. Antique brass contains, strangely enough, less zinc than modern brass. The smaller amount of zinc results in the pale, gold like, brass that distinguishes the antique brass objects from the newer ones. Some people describe it as a green glow (in stead of the reddish colour that modern brass has).
Chunks of "home-made" brass
I experimented with casting all different alloys, adding extra copper to modern brass, or I melted copper and zinc in certain proportions. Zinc is an extremely dirty metal if melted and the vapor is poisonous. To get a reasonable result one has to melt the alloy in a closed melting pot which doesn't allow air in. It's very difficult to create these conditions. That's why I tried to use some other solutions. I experimented with adding silver to modern brass and noticed that the results where pretty good. Adding silver tunes the reddish colour of contemporary brass down to the pale yellow glow of antique brass. Besides that, I got much better results with casting this alloy. My other alloys were rather brittle and weak. The silver-brass however is much stronger. It's not difficult to make castings with this alloy, forging and engraving is easy as well. Lucky for me silver was not a very expensive metal at the time I casted the brass, besides I didn't need large quantities .