Harmony Hollow Bell Works 800 468 2355 Established in 1969

Observer Article
Brad Cross - Harmony Through Bells

Ann Arbor Observer, December 1998
by Jon Hall

Bradley Cross

At Harmony Hollow Bell Works in Ann Arbor, Michigan, you'll find cast bronze wind bells, larger farm, landscape, and dinner bells, and bells for special occasions like weddings. And Christmas bells, hundreds of them, which the company ships to homes and stores across the country. Each bears a red tag saying "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings."

To Harmony Hollow owner Bradley Cross, the quote from the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" is no cliche'. The bearded forty-eight-year-old artisan, who became a bell maker as the result of a family tragedy, believes deeply that the "repetitive, peaceful, sacred sound" of wind bells helps one to achieve harmony. The interaction with nature's pulse through the wind is an essential design... that helps us keep tuned into the world," says Cross.

Cross's older brother, Jeffrey, started Harmony Hollow in Arizona. Brad took over in 1977 after Jeff disappeared from the ranch where he lived and ran the business. It was more than a year before hunters found Jeff in the nearby desert, shot to death. No one has ever been arrested for the killing.

Cross moved the business to Ann Arbor, though the bells continue to be cast in Arizona. He kept Harmony Hollow going—sometimes for comfort, sometimes out of melancholy. In a sense, he is fulfilling his brother's oft-stated wish to "remember me in the wind".

For years, though, bells were a sideline for Cross. He finished a master's degree in wild land management at The University of Michigan, ran adventure travel trips, and consulted on land management for various organizations. As Harmony Hollow grew, the other endeavors took a back seat.

Harmony Hollow is now one of the nation's largest makers of bells and chimes, selling 30,000 last year, most through the mail. Prices range from $25 to $300. Cross does the designing and marketing, and his wife, Nancy Brennan, manages the office.

Hanging on grey metal racks, the patinated bronze bells invite a visitor to tap. Tones resonate and then fade—the mark of a quality bell. "Hear how the sound lasts?" asks Cross.

In the studio, workers hunker over benches, piecing together teal-colored bells, clappers and hangers. Want an eagle, rooster, a Kokopelli flute player on your bell? Cross has them. There is even a bell for "Yoopers," mated with a hanger that's an outline of Michitgan's Upper Peninsula.

A while back, Cross designed a small bell for the City of Ann Arbor to use as an "official" gift. The bell, with the city's emblem cast into it, was so popular with visitors that Cross asked permission to make a version for sale, even offering to pay royalties. The bell's message of harmony apparently eluded City Hall: it said no.