Lac is a crimson red, plant sucking, tiny insects such as Laccifer lacca, Carteria lacca and Tachardia lacca colonize the branches of selected species of host trees and secrete a natural scarlet resin known as Lac. Later the different layers of resin residue on the coated branches of the host trees are scraped off as long sticks known as sticklac, crushed, sieved and washed several times to remove impurities till it shows up in natural red color. This is sourced mainly from Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh. Other raw materials include beroza, giya pathar powder, coal, sequins, semi precious stones and colors such as pevdi (yellow), safeda (lithophone), copper, green and chamki (gold).
Coal ash and other types of ashes resulting from burning fuels is the major waste in Lac bangle making, it can be utilized brick making process.
Tools & Technology
Angethi is a coal burner with flat steel plates in top; it is utilized for generating heat. Kadai is used to accommodate lac while heating and coloring; it is a shallow vessel with huge capacity. Chimta is another traditional tool which is used to stir, it is a large spatula. Hattha a handle shaped tool helps in pressing and shaping lac. Wooden rod, stone piece, iron bangles, tin foil, round wooden rod, cutter tool are some of the general tools which are taken into account in lac bangle making.
Many Rajasthani rituals require specific ornamentations and the lac bangles are one of them. These bangles are considered essential for local celebrations such as teej, gangaur, karva- chauth, holi, weddings and special ceremonies for the mothers-to-be.
The lac pieces are melted in the shallow vessel till it reaches a semi-molten state. At this stage beroza and giya pathar powder is added along with powdered colors brought from the market. The mixture is stirred well. Once the mixture is properly made heating is stopped and the liquid is allowed to cool down to a semi solid state. After this, lac is stuck at the end of a wooden or cane stick.
The normal lac, without the pigment, is stuck around a wooden rod is heated slowly over the coal burner or Angethi and is simultaneously pressed with a stone or a wooden tool called hattha at regular intervals. When it is sufficiently warm and soft, it is covered with the desired colour by rubbing the coloured lac stick on it evenly
Rolling the bangle
After the desired colour is applied, this lac piece is again shaped with the help of Hatta into a thin coil and then it is cut off from the plain lac rod. The thickness and the length of the coil approximately depend on the final shape and size of the bangles. This whole process is done by a single artisan and then passed on to different artisans. The coil is then placed in a farma or a mould for the shape of the bangle, and pressed with the help of hatta so that the coil takes the shape of the farma. This coil is taken out and heated over a burner. Moohjodai or joining the ends of the bangle is done using this heat.
Working on the bangle
Another artisan takes up these coils and slips it onto a wooden beam with a tapering end, for different sizes. A cotton cloth is dipped in oil and used to hold these coils and rub them on the hot wooden beam. This gives a shine to the bangles and the process is called Ghotaai. Once the bangles have reached the desired shape and size, they are dipped in cold water and then left to dry.
If adornment is required, these bangles are then heated over a tin plate kept on a small burner. Sequins or other embellishments are placed on this warm surface according to the design. They settle in and stick once the lac is cooled. The process requires great precision. It takes much longer when working with smaller sized sequins. This process is called Chipai.