It doesn’t take a village, but there is a certain skill-set that must meet expectations for this traditional jewellery making process to be a success. As mentioned in the previous post the skills in question are inherited by certain individuals from their predecessors. The Chitera (designer), the Sonar (goldsmith), the Kalamkar (engraver), the Meenakar (enamellist a.k.a man/woman of the hour), the Chiknawala (polisher), the Kundansaaz (stone-setter) and the Patua (stringer).
The metals used in the process range from brass and copper to silver and gold. Although it is said gold holds the enamel work better so gold is the preferred metal where a lot of jewellery is concerned. Silver is mostly used in the making of other products; like cutlery, decorative bowls, boxes and other ornamental items.
The enamel colours are powdered glass blended in with metal oxides which determine the shade that comes through.
The surface of the metal is engraved with a sharp engraving tool called a stylus, the ornament cleaned after which the colours are then filled in. The ornament is then fired in the kiln at approximately 850 degree Celsius, where the applied colours harden and that is also when the real colours pop. After the piece cools down it is filed softly and cleaned with a concoction made of tamarind and lemon that is said to bring out the brilliance of each colour.
There you have it, a fine piece of meenakari art.
Look out for the next post to round up the information on this technique.
Images courtesy of D’source.