Kuhschellenschmied Kilian Trenkle bei der Arbeit

The sound of the alpine pastures

Cowbell blacksmith Kilian Trenkle

The sound of the alpine pastures

Cowbell blacksmith Kilian Trenkle

The flames blaze from the open fire in the massive iron oven. Kilian Trenkle stokes the fire, places a sheet of metal in the centre of it and heats it until it softens and becomes malleable. It will take a few hours for Trenkle to forge a cowbell from the metal by hand. He is one of just a few people who can still do this craft. "Bells are extremely important on the mountain pastures. They tell the herdsmen where their herds are and whether the herds are complete.

``Bells are extremely important on the mountain pastures.``

Furthermore, tradition states that the noise of the bell keeps evil spirits at bay", he explains. Trenkle learnt the craft of bell forging from his father. The fire in the locksmiths and bell forge "Beim Hummelbaur" in Pfronten-Heitlern has been blazing for four generations now.

Kuhschellen

The warm glow of the fire, the muffled impact of the hammer, the careful movements of the smith – bell forging has a meditative aspect. It fits that Trenkle also works as a yoga teacher. Becoming a bell forger was never forced upon him, he says.

Bell forging has a meditative aspect.

He was free to choose his own path: "After completing my A-levels, the first thing I did was to design a stool for headstands for yoga as a product designer. I called it FeetUp and began selling it online." With success. Barcelona, London, Amsterdam – the headstand stool was soon in demand and Kilian presented his idea again and again at yoga conferences and trade fairs. Over the years, it developed into a small family business.

Yoga in der Werkstatt

Trenkle likes to refer to yoga and everything that it entails as his soft side; as the complete opposite to the archaic, powerful craft of forging bells. The contrast appeals to him.

'Blacksmith is the best job in the world'

"I discovered forging bells for myself in my early twenties. Besides yoga, forging bells started taking up more and more time. I am always fascinated by the idea of creating something with your own hands. It is clear to me now that forging is the best job in the world."

Flammen auf der offenen Feuerstelle

It takes the man from Pfronten around 1,000 blows to create the two curved halves of the bell from two pieces of flat sheet metal; he then welds them together. Trenkle then mounts the tongue, which generates the characteristic bell ring when it hits the sheet metal. "The meadow sounds perfect when the angelic tone of the "Glocken" bells mixes with the earthy sound of the ’Schellen’ bell", states Trenkle.

The angelic tone of the ``Glocken`` bells and the earthy sound of the ’Schellen’ bell

"Yes, the chiming of cows is somehow a key part of mountain climbing in the Allgäu", enthuses Trenkle with a finished bell in his hand. And rightly so: The mountain summer would not be half as wonderful without the special ringing, the bright jingling and clanging of a herd of cows on the alpine pasture.

Kuhschellenschmied Kilian Trenkle bei der Arbeit