Aranya by Akanksha Makhija

Thesis Statement:

Aranya is a set of six bespoke napkin rings drawn from a cohesive narrative by engaging with the artisans of Bidri from North Eastern Karnataka.

The craft sector of India despite being one of the largest economic industries does not have a formally structured
source of information. The documentation of Indian crafts plays a crucial role in the process of education, preservation and promotion of craft and culture that are slowly losing their value in today’s society. Through the meticulous documentation of the craft of Bidri I have attempted to understand the craft and people associated with it along with capturing geographic and cultural aspects of Bidar. This process also helped me forge bonds with the artisans of Bidri and work along with them for the project. Bidri, is a form of metal inlay with equal parts folklore and chemistry- for centuries it has been imbibed into the fabric of Bidar’s society and has become synonymous with the city’s identity.

The eight-step process involves encrusting the surface of
a metal alloy of zinc and copper with ornate designs and inlaying silver into those grooves. This is followed by an oxidation of the metal
using soil from the Bidar Fort. This blackens the surface of
the metal object but leaves the silver unaffected, thus creating a striking contrast of the silver design against the black background of the object. Bidriware, an opulent statement in silver, was traditionally considered an auspicious gift.

After understanding the process of the craft and culture surrounding Bidri through documentation and interactions with the craftspeople, iterations of surface ornamentation were explored, keeping in mind the possibilities of the craft and the contemporary aesthetic of Good Earth before arriving at a set of six-forest themed napkin rings – Aranya.

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