Havel Metal Spinning


Initially founded by engineer August Havel in 1953, the workshop was taken over by his son Branko in 1989, and today is being run by Branko’s son-in-law Dražen Radotović and his son Luka - a fourth generation of metalworking craftsmen in the same location in Vlaška ulica in Zagreb.

As the only metal spinning workshop left in the city center, Havel is protected as intangible cultural heritage by the City of Zagreb, and has been awarded numerous prizes by the Croatian Chamber of Crafts. This also helps the workshop to regularly receive government and city funding in order to maintain the business.

Apart from the lack of interest among young people, there are also no schools anymore in which this craft could be learned. The youngest in the family, Luka, who initially studied locksmithing, later learned coppersmithing, metal spinning and other very specific processes thanks to his grandfather Branko. Hand metal spinners use a hand-held tool to shape the metal on a lathe, which spins at high speeds by electric power, and is therefore quite difficult to master. Today, like most processes, metal spinning has become fully automated, eliminating the need for metal spinners. The advantages of CNC metal spinning are obvious—high repeatability, the capacity to fabricate high volumes of the same product, more complex designs, less worker injuries and lower costs.

Apart from the lack of interest among young people, there are also no schools anymore in which the crafts of metal spinning could be learned. Hand metal spinners use a hand-held tool to shape the metal on a lathe, which spins at high speeds by electric power.

A small workshop is situated in the backyard, hidden between newly built buildings, and contains both the workshop with many different tools and machines for metal processing, and the shop where some of the products are always on display. The workshop initially supplied semi-finished products and goods for many Yugoslav factories (such as RIZ), especially during the seventies and eighties, but since the decline of the industrial production and war during the nineties they had to focus on production and sales of their own products to survive. Today emphasis is placed on courtesy and service quality. In addition to semi-products for newly established small companies, Havel workshop is very well known for its quality made turkish coffee* pots (džezva**), barbecues, pans and other cookware produced in small batches and adjusted to customers' wishes. They also produce boilers, all sorts of pipes and rosettes. Furthermore, the workshop is known for metal repairs and custom made metal parts for various clients such as small factories, artists and designers.

Turkish coffee* refers to a method of brewing very finely ground coffee
**Džezva (turk. cezve) is a small long-handled pot with a pouring lip designed specifically to make Turkish coffee. It is traditionally made of brass or copper, occasionally also silver or gold.

The production process of džezva begins by cutting a copper sheet of 1mm thickness with scissors into a circle of predefined size. The circle is then formed and molded on a machine by the process of metal spinning. Prior to any additional changes in form, the material needs to be heated by a manual burner to soften the copper. The repetition of this process depends on the complexity of the wanted shape. It means that each further adjustment requires special mould, which makes the process complex and demanding. Sometimes the pots are also decorated by the process of hand hammering. When the basic shaping is almost complete, the extension for handle is welded to the body. Then, the pot is tin lined inside for durability, and polished on the outside for ease of cleaning. After that, the handle (either copper of wooden) can be attached to the body. The last step is pulling out the spout for pouring the coffee.

Havel makes džezvas in different sizes, from the smallest ones, for serving only one coffee cup, to those of 3, 5 or 7 dl. The smallest pots are usually bought by restaurants that preserve old traditional customs and times when coffee was served with a sweet bite in the form of rahat locums. Džezvas are always being produced in series, because it would take up to a full day if the process were not optimized. Polishing is the most demanding part of the work process, because it is dirty and difficult at the same time. The average price of a typical traditional džezva is around 10 euros.