Meet the Artisans
Moradabad, which sits 160 km east of Delhi, was born during the Mughal era under Akbar’s reign. But the city really flourished in the early 19th century, as the brass market grew.
The Brits helped by sending brass plates, cups, and statues abroad, making Moradabad’s artisans sought after and highly revered in India. The attention attracted artisans from Lucknow, Agra, and other nearby cities.
By the mid 19th century, Moradabad had become the center of India’s brassware -- a thriving cottage industry where art and commerce fused well together.
India’s affection for metal-based arts dates back as far as 3000 BC, however. Over the centuries, all kinds of techniques have been deployed to shape the metal: beating it, casting it using natural materials, and pounding it with dies.
Today’s artisans are still using these simple, earthy techniques to produce their creations.
The Dune collection, for instance, relies on a spinning process. Much like how potters make a bowl out of a massive piece of clay that is spun till it forms the right show, artisans spin a block of metal and apply pressure with a hand tool to get the circular shape. Once it takes the shape of a bowl, it’s removed and hammered repeatedly.
Hammering is an ancient technique in India. By some estimates, it dates back 5,000 years.
Blacksmiths in ancient India were revered and respected for their creations and skill.
The tradition continues today because of the beautiful effect it creates on the metal. Though a bit noisy, as dozens of hammer bang away simultaneously in the metal workshops, the end result is a variegated surface that’s as interesting to look at as it is to feel.
To modernize the look of ancient hammering, the outside is covered in powder coating. A gun sprays the powder coating onto the metal bowl. The electrostatic gun places a positive electric charge on the powder, making it easy to stick to the metal.
The jagged edges on the top are done completely by hand, molded and beaten appropriately by the artisans.
There are countless techniques for metal artisans to master. The Lola collection, for example, doesn’t involve spinning but dies, which are essentially molds that the metal is dropped in and shaped. The Lola bowls have a polished interior and a similar powder coating on the exterior -- in white, instead of black.
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