Qabila – Curator – Jewellery Design – JD Annual Design Awards 2019
Designer: Shashank Soni
The collection Qabila is inspired from the technique named as “Kalamkaari” in Chhattisgarh which is an old embossing technique and presently only a couple of artisans work on this technique. I have curated the technique and tried to explore new designs as I have realized that the technique has not been explored and only bangles, anklets and hasli’s are being manufactured with same old traditional designs.
The jewellery made by this technique is usually worn by different tribes of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Kashmir, Gujrat, etc. in the form of bangles or anklets. The pieces made by adopting this technique are made from thick silver sheets and are heavy. In Chhattisgarh, while making a silver embossed round anklet, first, the Karigar flattens the sheet by beating it with the hammer, then he rolls the sheet into a pipe, then he beats the pipe and gives it a round shape making it look like a silver doughnut, then he fills the silver doughnut with ‘lead’ which is a soft metal and works as a thick filling for aiding the embossing. Then, he uses his chisel/kalam and hammers the plain lead filled anklet to produce geometric embossed patterns. Then he removes the lead and seals the open endings, followed by the finishing. In Varanasi, lac is used as a filling or as a supportive base. The karigar, by using his chisel and hammer creates geometric patterns which give the anklets a distinct look and feel from others.
This technique is very restricted as the karigar uses only 1 to 2 chisels for making embossed patterns, so I decided to create patterns that are possible for him to create. I started with tracing a picture of a ‘Paijan’ (Round Silver Anklet) and I determined the size of some squares of the pattern and took out an average. It was 3.8×3.8 mm to 4×4 mm. Then I created a pattern with only squares of that size. Then I determined the size of the products that I wanted to make. I drew each product’s outline on a gateway sheet and traced the original patterns to create trendy and chic ones. I decided to make two rings, which is a challenge for the karigar as rings have never been made using this technique. Apart from the rings the other four pieces of the collection were; a bangle, a hasli/chocker, and a necklace, a total of 5 pieces for the collection. These jewellery pieces are not just worn for fashion in Chhattisgarh, but also because they affect a particular nerve in the area they are worn on, because of its weight.