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Unfinished cloisonne baoding balls after molding

How Baoding Balls Are Made

Ever wonder how they make these intricate hollow musical balls? It’s a process that has been developed for many years and once a secret of China. Machines have taken over much of the world’s manufacturing of products these days, but the chiming baoding balls are still handcrafted by hand in a very detailed step by step process. It makes you appreciate the work that goes into making baoding balls.

Factory worker stamping making metal half spheres from circular metal sheets

The first step is making 2 hollow half spheres by cutting out circular pieces of metal. Sometimes they will use left over metal sheets where other shapes were cut out. These circle pieces are then pressed into a half spheres.

Welding chimes into half spheres and welding two half spheres together to form a ball.

A wire is wound into a coil and welded into one of the half spheres and a ball is placed inside. Two half spheres are then welded together to form the ball. The rough balls are then put in a grinding machine to remove burrs and make them smooth.

Copper is shaped by hand to form the beautiful designs and glued onto the surface of the bare metal balls. Then cloisonne enamel is painted by hand to fill the copper outlines. Designs with multiple colors can take several steps and some designs are very complicated which require much skill to create. 

The baoding balls are then placed into molds and filled with the enamel of the color of the ball. This fills in the areas around the copper designs. When the mold is ready, the balls are grinded down to the copper layer revealing the design of the ball.

Polishing a finished baoding ball and coating with varnish

The baoding balls are polished by hand making the balls smooth and shiny and a protective coat of varnish is applied to the finished ball. 

The finished product is a beautiful painstakingly hand made piece of art with great health benefits. Check out this documentary video of a baoding ball factory below that was made many years ago. You can see that not much has changed on the process of making the cloisonne baoding balls.

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