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Interesting Craft- Glass Flameworking

June 25, 2020

Have you ever wanted to experience the magic of moving molten glass? Flameworking might be the craft for you! Flamework is a form of glasswork, a tabletop torch being used to sculpt and melt rods of glass and glass colour into many different shapes and forms. We are lucky to offer the art of Flamework (also known as Lampworking) at the Department of Lifestyle Accessories. Using a torch to melt and manipulate borosilicate glass, this craft is greatly inspired by the beauty of nature and its belief.

Firozabad and Glass

Firozabad In Uttar Pradesh is a cluster for Glass works. Artisan from this craft uses borosilicate glass which comes in hollow and solid versions, sourced locally. These borosilicate glasses come with limited colour options including blue, amber, yellow, green, pearl, baby pink, black, teal and most prominently, transparent. In opaque and opal glasses, they have limited colours like white, opal white, opal yellow, grey as well as transparent red. They use Carborundum (locally known as carbon) moulds, for shaping in lathe machine works.

About the Craft

Firozabad glass cluster has been practicing torch work with a huge array of products including decorative and utilitarian products. It has been observed that most artisans are practicing commonly decorative artefacts like idols, animals, pendants, beads etc. The products mostly cater because market changes are happening slowly in terms of product productions. Now people are also involved in making customized pieces and utility products which include jewellery, hookahs, paperweight, pen, door handle, bells, etc. Related to the different tools and different surface treatments, the techniques are all different. Flamework in Firozabad is practiced in different clusters, depending on the crafts with the skill sets of the craftsmen. Some of the important products could be named – cutlery, tabletop decorations, smoking pipes and Idols like Ganesha, Shiva, Parvati, Laxmi, Alphabet making, rings, bangles, pendants. Beads and Die beads are also vastly made in products like pendants and used for decoration in mirrors. Lathe work is also a technique used in flameworking, products like Labware, Diya, Diwali lights, hanging decorations are made in this particular process. According to some master artisans, hookahs, bongs, smoking pipes have a huge international market which helps the craft to keep running.

Flamework at UID

Here in the department of Lifestyle Accessories Design at UID, the artisans are being called to offer their practice. The idea is to take a student’s project forward through the insightful journey of the craft. The understanding of scope and limitations of the craft helps the students to take up decisions while designing the product. The process involves the considerations of production method, which depends on raw material and usability of the product. Observation of the techniques and methods from the artisans, explaining the new ideas and helping students to achieve the same in a production-friendly manner could be a great experience for students. These artisans are extremely cooperative, patient and open to new ideas. Some artisans have experience of collaborating with a designer, and this is a new platform for them to ideate and develop their way of making things. The experience with artisans is so overwhelming as they are friendly, welcoming in all aspects and we find them to feel genuinely happy when someone takes interest in taking their craft forward.

Student work of UID, LSA; Image Credit : Aritra Roy Chowdhury

Product Credit : Aritra Roy Chowdhury, Image Credit : Aritra Roy Chowdhury

Aritra Roy Chowdhury, Assistant Professor, LSA Department, Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID)

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