Dive into the captivating journey of Drummonds‘ bath-making process. From sandcasting to hand-finishing, it takes weeks of artistry and dedication to create the brand’s distinctive designs.
Meet the mastermind behind the magic – Robert Bak, bath casting manager at Drummonds. It was a love of metallurgy and metal casting that led him to his role 18 years ago. It takes several weeks and a lot of hard work to produce each of Drummonds’ unique designs.
Scroll down to see how Drummonds’ handcrafted baths are made…
Robert, once at work, what’s the first thing you do?
As a manager, we have set weekly schedules and projects – but I always check all the machines at the casting plant when I arrive, before the working day starts. The casting process is complicated, and, as it involves melting iron at incredibly high temperatures, it can be dangerous. It’s essential to monitor the machinery to ensure everyone is safe.
What are your key responsibilities?
Our products are handmade by expert craftsmen, making each bath unique. I am involved in all processes, from the casting (where the magic happens) to the enamelling.
A big part of my job is to ensure quality. Over the years, we have perfected the process, and it’s important to safeguard our production standards but also to keep raising the bar.
How did you get your job?
My background was originally in mechanics and I have always been passionate about metallurgy, particularly the use of metals in casting and forming and how they respond in different circumstances. So, when Drummonds started the bath casting process here, I immediately knew I wanted to be part of it.
How are Drummonds’ baths made?
We have a small but efficient team of 15. Manufacturing our baths takes several weeks. We begin by sandcasting to form our tubs: a shape is made and encased in sand. The shape is then removed, leaving a cavity into which molten iron is poured by hand.
After being left to cool, the mould is broken open to reveal the casting inside, ready for hand finishing. Next, the interior is dry frit enamelled. Coat by coat, the enamel is sprinkled onto the inner surface of the bath and then baked at a high temperature. We repeat this up to five times to achieve the glossy, durable interior finish.
The process is forming, casting, grinding, enamelling, finishing and packing.
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What are the challenges of creating each design?
Iron’s behaviour can change according to the weather. The amount of moisture in the room affects the casting, so we created a special spraying booth where moisture is sucked out of the air before we finish the baths.
Is there a particular skill you’re glad you possess?
Preparing the metal for casting. Although this may sound like a simple job, mixing and testing the correct elements requires skill and expertise. Every ingredient must be just right for the process to work. It can take months of training to reach even a basic level of understanding.
What impresses people the most when you tell them what you do?
Talking metallurgy is a niche interest, but when you start explaining the process to people, they become really fascinated. Especially when they see footage of how each piece is created.