The glitter is always glitter whether it is of gold or silver or metal. The metal craft shines as good and stimulates the environment in homes, offices and other places. They are products of imagination of artisans. The important metal crafts centres are Moradabad, Jaipur, Delhi etc. These products are popular as part of culture. As they are inexpensive they become valuable possessions of art lovers. There are two important types of metal craft � White Metal and Metal Meenakari.
White Metal
White Metal is term used for electro plated nickled silver on brass object. To give new dimension to brass objects fine layer of silver metal is electro plated through electro-chemical process which gives brass a silvery look. This silvery look is achieved by passing an electrical current through a solution containing dissolved metal ions to the metal objects to be plated. The metal object serves as the cathode in an electro chemical cell, attracting metal ions from the solution. The process is regulated by controlling a variety of para meters including the voltage and amperage temperature and the purity of bath solutions. First the brass objects are created generally by sand casting method which is done by using moulds. Once the master mould is prepared the process of casting is done by pouring molten metal into the mould. Once the object is ready engraving is done on these items by hand using various tools. Another form of decoration is emboss work which is done on metal sheet items. Embossing leaves a raised design by including the back of a paper on metal surface with ball tipped styles. After the object is ready it is electroplated giving it a silver look. The quality of the plating depends on the number of microns of silver used on the item.
Some of the items which are not used for food are lacquered to provide a shield from tarnishing. The process of lacquering is carried out in a dust free pressurized chamber where air is injected through micro filters thereby avoiding any chances of dust depositing with surfaces of the items. The shield protects the item from tarnishing.
Gifts and utility products like wind goblets, bowl & bowl sets, wine coolers, photo frames, planters, vases and statues are most sought after pieces of art in this metal.
Metal Meenakari
Enamel / Meenakari is a crystal form of glass fused with metal oxides like silver, gold, copper and zinc. Real enamel when used on copper, silver or gold produces bright beautiful colors like jewel stones.
Copper enameling is a lengthy process which involves various steps:-
The object is made by mould casting in desired shape;
Fine engraving is done by hand on it;
Meena (Persian work for glass), which comes in a rock form is grinded into fine powder and mixed
with water and glue and made into a thick paste;
This paste is filled in the engraved design
The object is then heated on a very high temperature, which affixes the meena or enamel on the object;
Finally, filing work is done to give a finished look.
This enamel / colours do not fade and can sustain the heat. Many utility and decorative items like bowls/candle stands, frames, spoons etc., are made in this craft. CCIC procures these items mainly from Maharashtra and Delhi.
The world of Brass is as glittering as gold.
Brass Ware
Rajasthan and Moradabad in UP are best known for art brass ware in the country. Brass objects are made either by sand casting, moulding or sheet metal forming process and various levels of production are handled by specialized craftsmen.
For ornamentation various techniques of engraving, embossing, jali cutting filling in coloured lac in engraved areas, etching, tinning, electroplating 24 carat gold plating are being used.
Kalamkari which is an urdu word for engraving is done with controlled strokes of thapi, mellet on find pointed chisels by skilled craftsmen.
They engraved the designs from memory shallow engraving is called naqkashi or sada kalam, while deep engraving is called khudAI or sia-kalam. In khudAI very intricate designs called marori work is done and chased depression are filled in with coloured lac. The lac sticks are heated and applied to the metal. The design gleam in golden tracery against the translucent coloured lac.
Traditional designs are mostly floral arabesques or birds animal, geometric designs. Some of the names for designs are blue chicken, chidia chiken, lily-chicken, irani chicken, Bidar design Angoori, guldasta, pachranga etc.
Now these days, the decorative and dowry items with engraved designs are finished with 24 carat gold plating which impart a rich royal look to them. They are finally lacquered which makes the gold plating lasting and easy to maintain.
Copper Ware
Copper called tamba in Sanskrit is regarded sacred and is known to have medicinal properties and keeps water pure. Every temple has objects made of copper and every house has a copper pot to store water. Copper smithery is a hereditary profession. Craftsman buy the sheet from contractors, earlier copper was extracted by the tamtas from local mines, a process which was a closely guarded secret. Bigger pots are formed in two halfs and joined with brass solders. The sheet is formed by drawing it over a swage stone. The rim or moth are finished by beading and handles are riveted on.
Sheet - Metal Work
Metal sheet most commonly brass are cut and beaten to create the form of the desired object. The base and body of the item are made separately and soldered together. The soldered joints are beaten with a hammer and the surface is scraped. The object is frequently heated in the furnace to keep the metal soft. It is also repeatedly beaten with a mogri (wooden-hammer) in order to remove all the dents on the surface.
Sometimes these items are decorated with embossing or repousse work. A recipe of lac buroza (gummade from rice), powdered brick and mustard oil is made and heated until viscous solution is obtained. This thick paste is poured into the metal object and allowed to solidified. The lac ensures that the object does not get punctured when it receive multiple blows from the chisel and hammer employed to create pattern on the objects surface. On the completion on design the object is heated so that lac may be poured out and the engraved utensil is then beaten from wishing to remove all dents finally the utensil is burnished with a buffing machine. Planters, pots, wall plates and paan-dan, boxes etc., are some of the popular items which are made by using the technique.
Kansa or Bell Metal
Kansa an alloy with high proportion of tin to copper was another material used for making utensils for ritual and household use. Kansa did not tarnish easily and suitable for serving dishes. Traditionally the plates tumblers or bowls were forged out of lump of kansa on anvils and steel shapers by a team, heating and beating the metal simultaneously. Bigger pots are shaped and forged in parts and joined or brazed with soldering paste finished and polished. Due to high labour cost involved in the traditional methods these utensils are now made by casting process and finished on the Lathe.