New videos to explain the mind blowing craft of Bidri! May 01 2019
We had previously share a photo documentation of the various steps that go in the making of this exquisite craft. We now have some fresh videos, straight from the workshop in Bidar, Karnataka, shot and put together by none other than the master artisans themselves! Are you ready to be amazed?!
As we had said before, the exquisiteness and the clean lines of Bidri belie the complicated and time consuming steps that go into its creation.
Crafting of a Bidri article (inlaying silver wire/sheet onto an oxidized zinc and copper alloy base) involves four main steps: (1) mould making, (2) melting the alloy and casting the article, (3) engraving and inlaying the design and finally (4) oxidizing.
First part of the video covers stages (1) and (2). A mix of soil, castor oil and resin is used to prepare a mould onto which the impression of the 'master' models/designs/forms is taken. In this mould, molten metal alloy of zinc and copper (in the ratio of 16:1) is poured, which fills in the hollow cavity left behind by the impression of the 'masters'.
In the second part of the video, you can see stage (3)- engraving and inlaying the design.
The rough surface of a freshly cast piece is smoothened by filing with files, scrapers and sand papers. Then a superficial layer of black is applied on the surface of the article by rubbing it with a solution of copper sulphate. This makes it easier for the artist to draw the design on it, which is easily visible on the black surface.
For engraving the design, the engraving tool, a kalam or metal chisel of various shapes and points is used. Inlaying work is done by deftly and skillfully placing the silver wire into the engraved groves. The inlaid design is then buffed to smooth the surface.
The third part of the video covering the oxidization process and finishing.
After final filing and/or buffing, the bidriware is now ready for the final blackening process. A special variety of soil which is available only in the unlit portions of the Bidar fort is used (it is said that this soil is very special. While no definite reason can be attributed to this- some artisans feel that the soil is away from the sunlight and rain for years and therefore it has great oxidizing properties). The soil is mixed with ammonium chloride and water to produce a paste which is then rubbed onto a heated bidri surface. The paste selectively darkens the body while it has no effect on the silver inlay.
The final piece is rubbed with coconut oil to brighten the black surface.
Tell us if you weren't wowed! :)
Shop this rare and very special collection, 'Bidri x MCM', here.