The Craft and Community:
Metal or ‘dhatu’ has been a powerful element in shaping the ingenuity of man. The ability to use fire to tame metal and cast it into varihued shapes defines the territorial boundaries of the metal smith or the ‘luhaar’. Ore and its fusion has been the mainstay of specialized artisans in Gujarat. Even though metal ore is not naturally prevalent in the state, metal ware developed to a fine art suffusing every strata of society. Varieties of different techniques are perfected to work in metal and its various alloys yielding a range of quality products. Different qualities inherent in each metal are lovingly coaxed out of the ore by the metal smith and rot into objects of splendorous beauty, aesthetic appeal and utility.
Range of Techniques
Casting is a manufacturing process by which a liquid material is usually poured into a mold, which contains a hollow cavity of the desired shape, and then allowed to solidify. The solidified part is also known as a casting, which is ejected or broken out of the mold to complete the process. Casting materials are usually metals or various cold setting materials that cure after mixing two or more components together; examples are epoxy, concrete, plaster and clay. Casting is most often used for making complex shapes that would be otherwise difficult or uneconomical to make by other methods.
Casting is a 6000 year old process. The oldest surviving casting is a copper frog from 3200 BC.
Beaten or hand hammered singing bowls are made by complete hand hammering process. In beaten singing bowls, every single singing bowl are carefully hand beaten which requires several processes to finish up and shaping into a perfect hand hammered singing bowl.
In the making process, first the various composition of metals as raw materials (Copper, Tin, Zinc, Iron, Lead, Gold and Silver) are melted into furnace depending on manufacturing needs such as for bronze singing bowl or for seven metal singing bowl making. The hot melted metal are taken from furnace and poured into a Gulli Cup or Dice to prepared metal mould for the various size and weight. Then, the round metal gulli or moulds are taken to make rolling and turn into round metal sheet in needed size and thickness. After that, the sheet are brought for the hand beating or hammering process after precise measurement and categorized for weight and sized bowls.
Regarding hand hammering process of singing bowls making, 4 -5 round metal sheets are piled up one upon another and then heated to red hot burn. The red hot burned metal sheets are hammered from a group of expert artisan till the heat remains in metal, and again processes to red heating for continuous beating for the singing bowl shaping. This heating and beating process with the bundled and piled up metal sheets continues until a desired shape and size forms from a metal sheet. (That is why the hammered or beaten singing bowls will get proportionately difference in a size centimeter with each individual singing bowl).
In hammering process of these singing bowls, the metal sheet must hammer and beating on the time of red hot only which remains softness and flexibility on the metal, this is because as the metal getting colder, will loose its softness and flexibility which in turns tampered and gets hardness on metal, and thus breaks metal or bowl if done hammered. The reason behind this working process is the metal content Bronze or Seven Metal mixture is very sensitive to heat and gets harder if it looses it hot temperature and will have cracks and breaks if works. So in this shaping stage of hammered singing bowls, the makings are done with the duration of hot metal only.
The metal sheet embossing operation is commonly accomplished with a combination of heat and pressure on the sheet metal, depending on what type of embossing is required. Theoretically, with any of these procedures, the metal thickness is changed in its composition.
Metal sheet is drawn through the male and female roller dies, producing a pattern or design on the metal sheet. Depending on the roller dies used, different patterns can be produced on the metal sheet. The pressure and a combination of heat actually “irons” while raising the level of the image higher than the substrate to make it smooth. The term “impressing” refers to an image lowered into the surface of a material, in distinction to an image raised out of the surface of a material.
In most of the pressure embossing operation machines, the upper roll blocks are stationary, while the bottom roll blocks are movable. The pressure with which the bottom roll is raised is referred to as the tonnage capacity.
Embossing machines are generally sized to give 2″ of strip clearance on each side of an engraved embossing roll. Many embossing machines are custom-manufactured, so there are no industry-standard widths. It is not uncommon to find embossing machines in operation producing patterns less than 6″ wide all the way up to machines producing patterns 70″+ wide
The process of melting metal is called smelting. Mined ores or metals are smelted to isolate the metal of interest. The purpose of melting metal is to separate the valuable components from the worthless elements within the ore.
Melting points of some metals and alloys are indicated in the table below:
The craft products:
Dhekchi – metal pots, Limbodi – cooking vessel, Kadai – deep frying pans, Bakadia– vessels, used for cookingParat/katharot plates for mixing dough,Tapela–large metal, Pavali/kothi – water Containers Lamps Candle Stand Puja thali Decorative items And home décor.