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The Draw of the Bell

Architect Eddie Jones Fell in Love With all Things Arizona—a Journey That's Resulted in his Impressive Collection of Cosanti Windbells

Ever since he was a kid, Eddie Jones never had a doubt he’d have a career in architecture and design.

The founder of Jones Studio credits this passion to Encyclopedia Britannica, in which he saw a photo of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, a home in southwestern Pennsylvania, which is one of the iconic Arizona designer’s most acclaimed works.

The home is known for being the quintessential representation of Wright’s harmonious union of art and nature. One look at the multi-tiered home and cascading water flowing from it, and Jones, then just 6 years old, was hooked.

“It sparked an interest in something I couldn’t even spell at the time,” he recalls.

And that’s how the son of a petroleum engineer, raised in the oil fields of Oklahoma, got into architecture—and ultimately became a serious collector of Soleri’s Cosanti Original windbells. 

Further architectural research also sparked an interest in all things Arizona.

In 1973, a year after earning his architecture degree from Oklahoma State University, Jones followed that calling to the Southwest.

“Between Frank Lloyd Wright, Soleri, and ‘Arizona Highways,’ I fell in love with the Sonoran Desert. I packed up my beater Volkswagen, hit the road to move to Phoenix, and never looked back,” Jones says.

His first stop was Taliesin West. The second was Cosanti, the gallery, studio, and home of the late Italian-American architect Paolo Soleri, who Jones actually met during that visit. Then, he found a hotel.

Jones’ priorities were in the right order.

He purchased his first bell on that second stop. Today, it hangs among a hundred-plus that he has procured over the decades. Some are at his homes in Ahwatukee and Mexico, others are proudly displaced in his Tempe studio.

Jones estimates that he’s purchased an additional hundred more for family and friends.

Every time a baby is born into his family, he or she gets a tiny Cosanti bell. And at the end of a residential job, he gives a large one to clients as a housewarming gift.

The handmade pieces have been crafted by skilled artists since 1955, and are made using native clay and bronze. Each bell is truly one-of-a-kind, shaped in a sand mold created just for that single bell. Because they are composed of local earth and elements, it’s said the sound produced is also unique, distinctly Arizona, and cannot be duplicated by any other vessel. 

Of course, this significance is not lost on Jones. But the appreciation that led to him becoming an aficionado goes much deeper.

“They may be bells, but they are also very sculptural. They are representative of not only Soleri’s philosophy but symbolic of the desert,” Jones says.

Jones also enjoys spotting the bells during his travels around the globe or even in magazine photos, subtly hanging in the background of a photographer’s main focus. The most unexpected spot was at a monastery in the middle of nowhere just outside of Dallas. Jones was drawn to the architecture of the monastery and met the monk who lived there. He told Jones the bell had been a gift.

Every sighting brings an immediate connection.

“Whenever I see one hanging from a firescape in Manhattan or Tokyo, you know you have a friend there,” says Jones.

And no matter how many bells he adds to his impressive collection, Jones continues to see and embrace each one for the unique and special piece of art it is, as if he’s admiring it for the first time.

“I never get tired of simply looking at them and never get tired of hearing them. It’s like a painting I’ve owned for 10 years but there’s always something new to see,” Jones says. “They continue to bring me joy.” 

  • Photo provided