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Jaipur, The “Pink City” of Rajasthan is known for its rich culture and Blue pottery art. When we talk about Jaipur, the first thing that strikes our mind is the long stretch of market selling traditional handicrafts. This city is known for manufacturing different variety of handicrafts like camel leather products, mojari, blue pottery products, handcrafted silver ornaments and a lot more. As you step into old city of Jaipur, you can see beautiful azure all around. Blue pottery, ever so elegant and always fragile, is a craft Pink City is celebrated for.
The process of making blue pottery art product is very different and unique. Even today these products are made with eons old traditional techniques of Blue pottery art. Though the blue pottery art is widely recognised as traditional craft of Jaipur, but its origin is Turko-Persian.
Blue pottery art is used for making products like decorative bowls, door knobs, wine bottle stoppers, designer tiles, quirky vases, ethnic flower pots, decorative animal figurines, wall plates, pickle jars and barni, jewellery holders, serving tray and glasses, tooth brush holders and many more.
Today, we will talk about the process of making this exquisite Jaipur blue pottery art. However the process is very different but you will surely enjoy acquiring knowledge about it.
Blue pottery art products are made using all natural substitutes and glazed on low fire. This is the reason why these products are fragile in nature. The making process of these products is very tedious and time consuming. Various stages are included in making blue pottery products.
The first stage includes of crushing ingredients into small particles. The ingredients include raw materials like Multani Mitti (Fullers Earth), scrap glass, saaji, katria gond and quartz stone. All these raw materials are separately crushed into fine powder in a traditional machine “Chaaki”.
Once all the raw materials are crushed into powder they are weighed accordingly to prepare dough. Quartz powder (40 kg), Multani Mitti (1 kg), scrap glass (7 kg), Katria Gond (1 kg), and Saaji (1 kg) and are mixed together with water on a clean floor. The mixture is kneaded properly to prepare non-sticky dough which is kept for at least 7-8 hours before using it.
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Preparing Moulds For Giving Desired Shape
The craftsmen making blue pottery art products are master in this field. With their excellent craftsmanship they make amazing decor and utility products. The dough prepared for making blue pottery products lacks elasticity; this is why they cannot be hard pressed on the wheels. The craftsmen make different moulds using POP (Plaster of Paris) to caste the desired shapes and sizes. The products break if the dough is pulled on the wheels. One mould can be used for many times if maintained. Single mould can be used for making small and easy product, whereas big sized products may involve more than two moulds.
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Making Shapes Using Dough
Product casting is done by taking desired amount of prepared dough and rolled over the base stone using a traditional tool. The dough is flattened like a chapatti with an approx thickness of 4-5mm. This chapatti is then carefully placed in the POP moulds. Once the dough is placed in the mould for giving a desired shape it is filled with raakh (burnt wood/ash). This is done so that the dough is pressed for taking the exact shape of the mould. The extra edges are cut using sharp knife. The mould is then turned upside down and removed. The prepared product along with ash is kept for 1-2 days for drying. After drying the product rough edges are removed using sandpaper so that the raakh and other major grains are removed.
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The Process of Smoothing
The product base is now ready and needs smoothing for painting designs. Products are coated with dough and water to fill up major holes if any. Once dried the product is rubbed with sandpaper for smoothing and then dipped in slurry for final coating. This slurry is prepared mixing the quartz powder (10 kg), powdered glass (3 kg), Maida (edible flour, 2kg) and water. The coating is evenly done using hands, after drying the surface is again rubbed with sandpaper for final smoothing. The product is then ready for painting.
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The beautiful designs on the blue pottery art products are an outcome of creative imagination of the skilled craftsmen. The designs are hand-painted and mostly include floral motifs, animals and bird motif and other nature inspired designs. The design making is started by drawing outlines free handedly on the dried coated surface of product. Further intricate designs are made by hand using brushes of different sizes.
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Painting The Designs
The colours used for painting Blue pottery art products are made by the artisans. These colours are mainly made using oxides and sometimes Ferro metals. The oxides come in form of small lumps which are then mixed with edible gum (binding agent) and powdered. The blue pottery art colours mainly includes of blue, green, yellow, black, red and brown. The heavenly Azure (blue) is the important shade and also the base shade most of the time. The designs and outlines are painted with these oxide colours using fine brushes.
You will surely like to know more about arts like this, check here.
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Once the painted design dries the products are glazed. Glazing is done so that the paint last longer and gives a fresh look to the product when used. A special glaze is prepared using mixture of powdered glass (21kg), Borex (17 kg), zinc oxide (1 kg) potassium nitrate (2 kg) and boric acid (7 kg) and heated till it melts. This mixture is then cooled down and grinned into a powder form. Further the powder is mixed with Maida (flour) and slurry is prepared using water. For giving an equal coating the product is dipped into the slurry. Lastly the product is dried in sun.
The products are prepared and painted are then taken for firing process in a closed kiln. They are stacked one on top of other very carefully inside the kiln. Utmost care is taken while stacking the products so they do not stick to each other. The stacking is done in a circular form so that the heat passes equally through each product. Heating is done from below using woods and charcoal fire. The temperature is fixed up to 800-850 degree Celsius. Any major change in the heating temperature may lead to develop cracks in the products. It takes 4-5 hours for the firing process. The kiln is left for cooling for 2-3 days. Once cooled the products are removed carefully and checked. The products that developed crack or any faults are rejected and kept aside. The final blue pottery art products are then cleaned and packed for shipping to the markets.
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Final Blue Pottery Art Products
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The exquisite art of making Jaipur Blue Pottery need excellent craftsmanship, lots of efforts and creative skills. The beauty of these blue pottery art products is flawless and enhances the look of the decor when added. The artisans are working very hard to keep this rich art of Rajasthan alive and making efforts to portray the craft worldwide!!!