‘When I received my first paycheck from my now known day job, I spent it on a period craftsman chair and a Frank Lloyd Wright-wannabe lamp. With my second paycheck, I bought a stereo.’ – Brad Pitt
Priorities, I say! A chair and a lamp ! Just perfect! Maybe, add some food and a book? Lighting can dramatically change the look of a room and it is less expensive and much less tedious to do than painting it! Want to add more drama and different effects in your room to suit different moods? Layer your lighting and use dimmers! Chandeliers or overhead lights, floor lamps, table lamps, uplights, downlights and the list goes on!
I recently visited a show-home and was instantly enamoured by the beautiful copper lamps and the large number of metal lights strewn across the home and the backyard. Back in India, specially when I was growing up in Allahabad, it was a common sight to find brass lamps, or lamps made of glass and copper/ brass tubes in homes. They looked very pretty and hailed from a town called Moradabad. Indeed, no mention of lamps is complete without remembering the very talented craftsmen of Moradabad, who are responsible for creating some of these world-famous pieces. A bit about this wonderful city, Moradabad, before we get lost in the web of lamps.
Did you know that this town of Moradabad, packed with those talented ‘brass specialists‘ was established by Murad, who was the son of Shah Jahan (of Taj Mahal fame) in 1600 and the city came to known as Moradabad, after Murad, of course! Brass creations from this city can be found across the world and it’s no wonder, that this city is also called the ‘Brass City’ aka ‘Pital Nagri‘. However, it’s not just ‘brass work’ that this city is known the world over for! The skilled artisans based in Moradabad also create products using copper, zinc, iron, glass and other metal alloys too.
Working with metal, especially brass, is a long and labour-intensive process. This is one of the reasons why creating brass products always requires efficient team work; there would always be a master craftsman involved who in turn will be working with other skilled craftsmen, who have different areas of expertise (for each of the four stages of the creation process) to create the end product.
Then, there are typically four stages in creation of any brassware. They are:
- Moulding and Casting (referred to as Dhalai)
- Finishing and Polishing (referred to as Chilai)
- Engraving (referred to as Nakaashi and Dastakari) and
- Enameling (Rang Bharai)
Long process, indeed! Now, that you are armed with the knowledge of the basic metals used and the process, let’s take a look at what these clever artisans of Moradabad have added to this world of lamps.
For one of our projects, we have been speaking to a few of these artisans and their work and knowledge about these skills and techniques is humbling. The ease with which they explained the various electroplating techniques was certainly intriguing. Their personal stories are inspiring too and reflect grit and determination. One of them has been in this line for over twelve years, he has only recently put together some structure around his passion for the craft. He works with other artisans to make lamps, candle stands and tea lights. Another person has come a long way in the last 15 years and now employs other artisans, generating employment and livelihood opportunities for others. The neighbouring towns are not untouched with this craft and specialized artisans from places like Hathras and Firozabad make lamps and other metal items, sometimes in collaboration with artisans from Moradabad. If you want to connect with any of these artisans, then please drop an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org and The Project Connect (TPC) team will be able to connect you with the artisan. Have a look at some of their work, right here:
One store really caught my eye, and you will surely love their collection too! Have a look at the collection at Ivanka Lumiere…some of the lights will make your jaw drop. They have a vast collection of brass, copper and metal lamps in interesting designs. Do have a look!
Some more inspirations and ideas:
Lamped out? I hope not, as there still so much to see and even more to learn, and miles to go before I…
Love and Light to you all!