“I made a piece in collaboration with my designers, and it got featured in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (UK). It was a challenging piece, but when it got featured, I was very proud.”
Javed ji is one of the few metal craftsmen who has been in the industry for over 45 years. He began by making silver utensils for royal families across India but has gradually expanded his work to include brass lighting and accessories. “This skill was passed down by my ancestors not to do ‘majduri’, but in the hope that I would become a ‘sunar’ in the future,” Javed ji said. Some of his family members continue to work as sunars in the city, selling gold and silver handicrafts, whereas Javed ji has established a workshop exclusively for brass works.
The process of making brass lighting is similar to other forms of metalwork, he explained. “We buy the standard metal sheets available in the market whose thickness varies between 8 to 40 gauge. Once the material reaches our workshop, I make circles on the sheet based on the designs. I then cut the design using an ‘aari’. Now that the 2D shape has been achieved, I will punch the metal sheet in the lathe machine (hydraulic machine) and that gives the object its 3D shape. Finer details are then carved by hand and the piece is ready for finishing. For example, one can do etching to get the rough texture or even polish to achieve smoothness.”
Javed ji has worked with various designers to produce collections that have been shown in exhibitions across the country, and even abroad. Not one to shy away from a challenge, he has always attempted to take up tasks that seem impossible to the rest, continuously experimenting and redefining his craft. When the chance to collaborate for a piece for V&A Museum came up, Javed ji jumped at the opportunity with renewed vigour.
The piece was featured in London and Javed ji was elated with the outstanding response he received for this international exhibit. However, it also led to a bitter revelation—designers, not the craftsmen, usually receive the credit for the final piece. Thus, the seeds were sown for plans of a future brass lighting and accessory studio, where he, along with his son, can sell his creations under his very own label.