Riccio Bells


Riccio Bells are cast in bronze using the “lost wax” casting technique.

Bronze for bells

There are many metals that have been used to make bells. Copper, iron, silver and gold are the
most used parent metals. These metals are sometimes used in their pure form,
or mixed with other metals and sometimes other materials. These mixtures are called alloys.
The advantage of an alloy is that you can adjust the mixture to produce properties that
are ideal for the task the metal will be used for.
Most of my bells are made of silicon bronze.This is an alloy of copper and silicon. It is ideal for bells.
It is dense and strong. It is ductile and not brittle. It is designed for casting, dependable and smooth to pour.
And it is dense and hard, which produces a strong resonant sound.

Choosing other Metals

Occasionally I mix my own alloy, for a particular sound quality, or color, or customer need.
The same bell will sound differently if cast in other metals. There are even differences in the
same metal poured at different temperatures. Silver is dense and soft. It produces a warm ring.
Bronze (copper and tin or silicon) is stronger and tends to be louder and brighter.
Brass (copper and zinc) is less dense and harder. Brass has a higher pitch than bronze.
Mixing together several different metals for bells is a challenge that takes experience.
The bells of Tibet contain many metals. The alloys are created not just for their sound,
but, also for their spiritual content.



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Unicorn Bell Designed in 1982

My first ever bell. After many tests with different shapes, I had a basic understanding of bell technology. I began with a block of wax that I poured into a paper cup. I turned it on on a lathe. I was very careful to make the bell wall thin between the top and bottom bands. This is where the bell flexes. It allows the bottom to vibrate independently from the top. The vibration is cyclic and forms the sound waves we hear as ringing.

Then I carved a relief of unicorns. For the handle I made a prancing unicorn. The clapper is round and strikes solidly near the inside of the rim.

This bell always has a consistent ring. It is clear and bright and unlike some of my other bells, the tone does not vary from bell to bell. (Information taken from Dan Riccio site ,



The unicorn is a legendary creature that has been described since antiquity as a beast with a single large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead. The unicorn was depicted in ancient seals of the Indus Valley Civilization and was mentioned by the ancient Greeks in accounts of natural history by various writers, including Ctesias, Strabo, Pliny the Younger, and Aelian. The Bible also describes an animal, the re’em, which some versions translate as unicorn.

In European folklore, the unicorn is often depicted as a white horse-like or goat-like animal with a long horn and cloven hooves (sometimes a goat’s beard). In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it was commonly described as an extremely wild woodland creature, a symbol of purity and grace, which could only be captured by a virgin. In the encyclopedias its horn was said to have the power to render poisoned water potable and to heal sickness. In medieval and Renaissance times, the tusk of the narwhal was sometimes sold as unicorn horn.


Teddy Bell Designed in 1984

The Teddy on this bell is standing on a rock structure at the opening to a cave. From within the cave is a stream coming out and pouring down the side of the bell.
He is lowering a rope into the hole with his smaller friend holding on. They are hopeful this cave will be a new home .(Information and small picture taken from Dan Riccio’s site ,


Brown Bear

The brown bear (Ursus arctos) is a large bear with the widest distribution of any living ursid. The species is distributed across much of northern Eurasia and North America. It is one of the two largest terrestrial carnivorans alive today, rivaled in body size only by its close cousin, the polar bear (Ursus maritimus), which is much less variable in size and averages larger due to this.There are several recognized subspecies, many of which are quite well-known within their native ranges, found in the brown bear species.


Enchantress Bell Designed in 1985

The enchantress floats over a small audience of admirers. The usually fearsome creature are quietly sitting beside their tethers. They are listening, with enchantment for the sound of her voice. It is the ring of the bell. ( Excerpt from Dan Riccio website)


Carousel Bell Designed in 1986

(can be hung or worn)

The Carousel Bell was a fun project. It is made of of 8 parts and an abundance of ornamentation. The central cylinder is the part that rings. It is small compared to the size of the overall bell and has a delicate sound.The rotation of a carousel can vary. Many made in Europe rotate clockwise. In America they generally, but not always, rotate counter clockwise.

When I am putting these bells together. I vary the rotation. ( excerpt from Dan Riccios website)

The bells pictured above are the European version that goes clockwise.



Fish Bell Designed in 1988

(can be hung or worn)

The fish bell is an iconic symbol of a fish. It has strong lines and a sound to go with it. The rim of the bell is the wide open mouth with teeth showing.

In the mouth is a smaller fish that is also the clapper.


Bride Bell Designed in 1990 

(can be hung or worn)

Figurine bells have been around for a long time. Grecian figurines date back before 700 BC. During the 1800’s these bells were often made to resemble historic figures. The woman’s dress is ideal for forming the shape of the bell. The clappers were often figurative as well. They were shaped as legs with slippers and under garments.

This bell is a continuation of that tradition. The figure is a bride with bouquet and her shoes and petticoats form the clapper. ( excerpt  from Dan Riccio website )


Sweet Pea Bell Designed in 1988, Redesigned in 2001

The Sweat Pea Bell was one of my early bells. It has a tall traditional shape – which can produce a strong tone. I carved the sweet peas as a relief on the sides, and made a vine like arrangement of forget me not’s on the handle.

In early Chinese bells there was often an opening to allow the sound to move more freely. I made an opening in the front of the bell where the upper flower emerges from the bottom.

In 2001 I had some thoughts and reworked the bell. I adjusted the proportions and added texture to the floral motif.

Pictured above we have the newest version redesigned in 2001.


Sweet Pea

Sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus) is a flowering plant in the genus Lathyrus in the family Fabaceae (legumes), native to Sicily, Cyprus, southern Italy and the Aegean Islands.

It is an annual climbing plant, growing to a height of 1–2 metres (3 ft 3 in–6 ft 7 in), where suitable support is available. The leaves are pinnate with two leaflets and a terminal tendril, which twines around supporting plants and structures, helping the sweet pea to climb. In the wild plant the flowers are purple, 2–3.5 centimetres (0.79–1.38 in) broad; they are larger and very variable in color in the many cultivars.

The annual species, L. odoratus, may be confused with the everlasting pea, L. latifolius, a perennial


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Monarch Bell Designed in 1993

The Monarch butterfly is widely known for its migratory habits. In autumn, Monarchs fly southwest to over winter in the tropics of Mexico. There they can be found by the thousands resting on trees. In the spring, they return to northern United States and Canada to breed. They lay eggs on milkweed and related plant. The caterpillars feeding on bitter milkweed become distasteful to predators. In about a month they reach full size and form a chrysalis and transform into adult butterflies.
The season changes and the Monarchs fly to the tropics as did their ancestors.

The Monarch Bell depicts the life cycle of this beautiful creature. Eggs sit under leaves on the milkweed plant. An adult is perched on top and caterpillars crawl about. The bells’ clapper is the chrysalis. The Monarch is a common butterfly, but it is losing its winter habitat to the rapid deforestation of Mexico.




Hand Bell Designed in 1996

A Hand Bell is the kind of bell used in playing music, usually with multiple players in a bell choir. Hand bells come tuned in sets. They have a flexible leather or plastic strap for a handle. The clapper is made to ring in only one direction so that only those notes which are played will sound.

This hand bell is a miniature version of the choir bells. It is small enough to be worn. Like all musical hand bells it rings in one direction. The image on the side is my house with the hemlock trees that surrounded it for many years. The sun is beaming down. It is a happy day.

House photo from Dan Riccio’s website, work shop photo from Mr. Riccio himself.


Celtic Bell Designed in 2003 

(can be hung or worn)

The Celtic Bell has a traditional Celtic cross on top with a ring and woven knot pattern.
What is different is that I wove three strands in the pattern instead of two.
The horn of the bell has a cherub and designs typical of the Book of Kells.


Celtic Cross

The Celtic cross is a form of Christian cross featuring a nimbus or ring that emerged in Ireland and Britain in the Early Middle Ages. A type of ringed cross, it became widespread through its use in the stone high crosses erected across the islands, especially in regions evangelized by Irish missionaries, from the 9th through the 12th centuries.

A staple of Insular art, the Celtic cross is essentially a Latin cross with a nimbus surrounding the intersection of the arms and stem. Scholars have debated its exact origins, but it is related to earlier crosses featuring rings. The form gained new popularity during the Celtic Revival of the 19th century; the name “Celtic cross” is a convention dating from that time. The shape, usually decorated with interlace and other motifs from Insular art, became popular for funerary monuments and other uses, and has remained so, spreading well beyond Ireland.


Oni Bell Designed in 2005 

(can be hung or worn)

The rear side has a ShiShi dog guarding its “tama”.

The Oni Bell depicts two characters of Japanese folklore, the Oni, a demon and the ShiShi, a guardian dog.

Oni are supernatural beings which were once living people. They are often mischievous and can make life difficult. Oni are described as having bushy eyebrows, two horns and a large mouth with fangs. This also represents the face of a jealous woman, who if she dies of jealousy becomes an Oni.
Not all Oni are bad. Sometimes a dying priest can come back as an Oni to protect his temple.

The presence of Oni can be detected by the sounds they make. They whistle and sing like the sound of the Oni bell. On the opposite side of the bell is a ShiShi dog. They originate from China as the Foo dog. They are Lion like dogs who serve as guardians. They hold a round Buddhist jewel in their paws called a tama. When their mouth is open, they scare off demons like the Oni.

 The redesign still has the front  demon and the ShiShi is replaced with the artists likeness instead.


Seagull Bell Designed in 2005

The Sea Gull is standing on some rocks. Beneath is the tidal zone of shifting sand. The gull is seen in the round, but the sand is a view from above. As if you were standing there looking down.
There are scattered bits of sea life and ripples left by receding waves. Also in the sand is a footprint from the gull.
The clapper is a snail.



Sun and Moon Bell Designed in 2007 

(can be hung or worn)

The Sun and Moon bell is a wearable crotal. A crotal is like a jingle bell. It has a loose ball that roles freely to make a tone.

This bell revisits one of my favorite iconic theme. Fortunately celestial bodies are round. The perfect shape for this kind of bell.
My goal was to portray a confident harmony for these two great opposing forces. I tried many versions of their faces. Some were worth going back in a future design.
The bell itself is a shallow double bowl. Both sides are light and vibrate sympathetically. This bell makes a clear bright sound. The diameter is about the size of a nickel.


Dragon Bell Designed in 2008 

(can be hung or worn)

The Dragon Head bell is a wearable crotal. A crotal is like a jingle bell. It has a loose ball that roles freely to make a tone.

This bell was a real challenge. The shape is very complex as a dragon should be, but this does not help for an even wall thickness to make a solid tone. I solved the problem by making the jaw perform this function.


Skull Bell Designed in 2009 

(can be hung or worn)

The Skull bell is a wearable crotal. A crotal is like a jingle bell. It has a loose ball that roles freely to make a tone.

This bell is inspired by representational Mayan bells and Asian Tiger bells. The skull has a perfect shape for making a bell. I was very careful about the wall thickness and division of space between front and rear. The result is that it has an exceptional sound. I put small variations in each one as I make them, which also results in a variety of tones.

The designs along include a hieroglyph symbol (my own). It is pointing outward (to another life?) And a clutch of serpents going the opposite way. Serpents can mean many things. Sometimes they are thought of as mythical guardian figures. In medicine they have healing powers. They also are associated with regeneration and rebirth – as they shed their skin and begin anew.


Tinkerbell Designed in 2009

The Designing of Tinkerbell

My motivation for making this bell was Tinkerbell herself.
I wanted to make a a tiny flying fairy. Something delicate and spirited. I floated her beside a daisy to achieve the feeling of lightness small scale. There is plenty of strength in bronze to support these extended forms, but it is a very difficult casting. I was not positive it would be a workable design. Why play it safe? What would Peter Pan have done?

The Story of Tinkerbell

J. M. Barrie, 1860-1937, a Scottish author and play write is best remembered for creating Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up. He created the character of TinkerBell in the story Peter and Wendy. TinkerBell was a fairy who mended pots and kettles, a tinker. She made tinkling sounds, like tapping on tiny pots and the language of the fairies. Fairies could enable others to fly by sprinkling them with fairy dust. This “star stuff” worked its magic only when thinking happy thoughts.
“Tink” was ever present with Peter and the lost boys. She had mood swings from kind and helpful to ill-tempered and vindictive when she was angry. Barrie explained that because of her tiny size she could only hold one feeling at a time.
I made this bell in her honor. Tink is holding on to a daisy. This bell is decorated with happy thoughts and best wishes. The “tink” you hear is the sound of her voice.




Cat Bell Designed in 2009 

(can be hung or worn)

The Cat Head bell is a wearable crotal.

There are actually 3 cat faces in this bell. The front is the most
precocious forward looking face. Behind that is a very wide
eyed balloon style face. A little less confident alter ego.

The third cat is inside the bell. The stone which roles about
is itself another cat head.



Shaman Bell Designed in 2010 

(can be hung or worn)

The Shaman Bell is my own synthesis of the Vagra (male scepter) and Ghanta (female bell) used by a lama in Tantric Buddhism. In Other cultures a Shaman. Together they represent the truth: the absolute and the relative. A path to transcendental enlightenment.

A Shaman may also have small crotal bells, sometimes referred to as Tiger bells. They  worn on a sash to add presence to the movement of a Shaman performing his duties.

My bell symbolically combines the form and functions of all three of these important ritual objects.

It is a personal reminder that awareness is a life long quest.


One of Mr. Riccio’s special projects


Folk Fest Bell Designed in 2010 

(can be hung or worn)

Mr. Riccio was commissioned in 2010 to design
a wearable bell for the 49th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival.

This music festival is an annual gathering of
musicians and enthusiasts which dates back to 1962.
Its a great experience worth looking into.


Reindeer Christmas Bell Designed in 2011


Snowman Christmas Bell Designed in 2012


Samurai Bell Designed in 2012 

(can be hung or worn)

(Story Currently Unknown)



Christmas Tree Bell Designed in 2013

(Clappers Vary)




Avatar Medallion Bell Designed in 2015 

(can be hung or worn)

An avatar is a human likeness that a deity can embrace when visiting earth. Fantasy Fest is about manifesting our own avatars and celebrating life with curiosity and wonder. This medalion, named Avatar, will forever remind us of our shared experience.

The Avatar is wearable bell with a story; it has a voice and comes to life when worn. The head, the  internal eyes and the clapper all respond to movement. There are two faces on the bell that represent our spirit’s masculine and feminine sides. The female face conjures intuition, water, life and the moon in the cool of the night. The male face invokes action, heat, the sun and the daytime sky. Day is the transition to night, and nigh to day. In this continuum, neither  days nor  nights are absolute. These sides represent mythic ideals that serve as reference points in a spectrum of diversity.

The faces wear the traditional mask of the carnival, offering a fashionable path to infinite possibilities. The female is the oracle. An orchid, the symbol of feminine opulence is worn above her brow. Her headdress is adorned with life itself. It flows with the tide, and the pulse of life. On her mask is the third eye, enhancing her abilities to see destiny unfolding. The male is the dragon lord. He looks forward with confidence, and keeps attention to the movement. He wears a helmet of authority with a radiant shield above his eyes. The shield is a symbol of his  keen perception. The internal clapper is their trident, the action scepter of the gods and can transform the future.

This one of a kind  collectible medallion pendant was designed and created by Dan Riccio. It is cast in bronze or silver and the 10 pieces are hand  assembled. The castings are trimmed, polished, signed and numbered by the artist. The edition is limited to 950 pendants ( ours is 187) produced exclusively for the 37th Annual Fantasy Fest.

Alex Calder partnered with the renowned artist and sculptor, Daniel J. Riccio, to create a one-of-a-kind collectible medallion necklace to commemorate Fantasy Fest 2015.

Designed exclusively for the Fantasy Fest enthusiast, The Avatar is a truly beautiful piece of wearable art, representing the timeless tradition of personal expression through costume. Each piece is numbered and signed by the artist and available in either bronze or sterling silver. Production is limited to 950 total castings.


Owl Bell Designed in 2015 

(can be hung or worn)

(Story Currently Unknown)

The bell has a different owl on each side. which match the two different versions of the owl thimbles that he makes. The picture above shows both sides of the bell and the two different versions of the owl thimble.


Love Birds Bell Designed in 2016

(Story Currently Unknown)


Love Birds

A lovebird is one of nine species of the genus Agapornis (Greek: αγάπη agape ‘love’; όρνις ornis ‘bird’). They are a social and affectionate small species of parrot. Eight species are native to the African continent, with the grey-headed lovebird being native to Madagascar. Their name comes from the parrots’ strong, monogamous pair bonding and the long periods which paired birds spend sitting together. Lovebirds live in small flocks and eat fruit, vegetables, grasses and seeds. Black-winged lovebirds also eat insects and figs, and the black-collared lovebirds have a special dietary requirement for native figs, making them problematic to keep in captivity.


** descriptions and introduction provide by Dan Riccio at **