Handmade high quality products
F.lli Mollica was established in 1961 and specialises in the hand made production of high quality church ornaments and religious items: chalices, ciboria, tabernacles, stations of the cross, pastoral staffs, baptismal fonts, pectoral crosses and cope clasps are just a few examples of our wide range of items all of which are made by hand in true Made in Italy style.
All work is carried out within the company: from the creation of models to treating raw materials, from hand crafting individual items to delivering the end product.
The F.lli Mollica production system was designed to optimise production times and methods so as to deliver high quality hand made products both in Italy and around the world in reasonable times with the personal touches requested.
The number of machining works carried out by F.lli Mollica is considerable. The most common are as follows.
Spinning is a machining process which causes plate or sheet metal to deform against the walls of a wooden or metal mould as a reaction to pressure applied by a metal disc.
Many components of church ornaments are made by means of spinning such as bowls and knops for chalices, bowls and covers for ciboria; some feet and the foot underside metal disks for chalices and ciboria; the platforms or bases of some exposition thrones; many models of hanging chain lamps and all basins and covers for the baptismal fonts.
When the spinning process is completed, most items are ready for cleaning and electroplating while others then go to our engravers for decorating or embossing.
Not all the parts of our items need spinning and many created from the sand or lost wax casting process (microfusion).
This technique, also called engraving, allows the cold and relief decorating of metals using a “chisel” which is similar to a scalpel and from which this age-old gold working technique takes its name.
Decoration can be performed on both the inside, outside or on both sides of an item; to avoid piercing or deforming the opposite side of that which is being chisel hammered, items are placed in pitch which is the ideal material for this type of process as it sticks perfectly to the metal to be engraved.
There are several different stages in the engraving process: first, the metal plate is fixed to a support made from pitch, or, if the case of the feet or knops of a chalice, hot pitch is poured directly inside the piece to be engraved which is then fixed to a support made from pitch. In the next stage, the outline of the design is traced on to the opposite side. The work concludes with embossing which means finishing the design of the opposite side of the metal plate. Scraping or knurling may then be used to embellish the work.
Cleaning and polishing
The manual cleaning department removes any imperfections on the metal caused by spinning or other machining processes.
The cleaning process uses a cleaner which is a special machine with an electric motor which drives a shaft fitted with brushes made from different materials with different diameters. The brushes are coated with abrasive substances that are selected depending on the type of work to be carried out such as buffing or polishing.
When final polishing has been completed, the item is then cleaned using an ultrasound unit which provides a brilliant finish that is free of cleaning product residues, It also degreases all spinned products that might show signs of oily residue before they are sent to the electroplating department.
Electroplating is a manual process performed on metal surfaces that have first been cleaned, degreased and treated with acid so as improve aesthetic appeal and confer hardness and resistance to oxidation and corrosion. The electroplating processes (or baths) carried out by F.lli Mollica are with: gold, silver, nickel and copper. The metal is submerged in a water-based solution through which a continuous electrical current is passed. This allows metal ions to deposit and bond with the surface being treated.
In addition to technical processes, F.lli Mollica also carry out aesthetic processes, i.e. different types of finishing processes with polished copper, antique-copper-finish, oxidised copper, antique-silver-finish, oxidised silver and, lastly two-tone finishes.
The latter allows the same item to be part gold and part silver e.g. a chalice with a gold background and silver embossed decorations.
To obtain this result, the parts to be kept gold are painted with a protective black varnish. When the varnish is dry, the item is submerged in a bath of silver then, after rinsing, in a bath containing diluent which remove the protective black varnish and leave the gold in full view.
All the items we make or restore are placed in a special ventilated cabinet which sprays all of them except for the bowls, with a transparent varnish that protects them against oxidation. This process is known as Zapon varnishing and can also be carried out with a spray gun or electrostatic gun.
The items are allowed to dry for about twenty minutes in an oven at about 50°C and are then ready for final assembly which takes place in the assembly department.
The assembly department is specialised in many disciplines and takes care of roughing casts, welding, correcting any small defects on components to be assembled, assembling and checking end products.