Hand Blown Glass
Glass came to India with the invaders from the Islamic world. It was Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh that became the centre of excellence and met the royal demand for jhad and fanus (types of chandeliers), and produced vials for perfumes. It was here that blowing, a very special operation in the creation of these crystals, was mastered. Blowing is limited to karkhanas (workshops), and allows for the creation of an endless variety of hollow objects. In the case of mould blowing, great skill is necessary to make the glass take the shape and patterns while maintaining uniform thickness on all sides, which again calls for the expertise of ustaads (masters).
Today, traditional bangles and newer products like glass toys are handmade in the streets of Firozabad by the descendants of those who once made lavish chandeliers for the Nawabs of the region.
Within this craft, bangle making to a great extent is a cottage industry in itself. “The craftsman draws and winds molten glass into a tight spiral around the mandrel. The glass springs are then inserted into bangles and patterned with nicks. It is traditionally the women from their homes who complete the ornamentation of these bangles with gold paint.”