Raw materials for this art is few and simple.The purified lac base, on which the sheets are spread is called a 'chapadi'. The metal sheets used are of silver or 23 karat gold. The various other raw materials are belgian glass, beads, threads and stones.
High precision is needed in cutting out the designs on the sheets. The tiniest error will lead to the entire sheet being wasted.All such discarded pattern sheets and cut outs are melted again and prepared for the fresh work.
Tools & Technology
Small sized tools are used for this delicate art like 'Hummaney' (forsep), 'Katya' (cutter) and 'Tankale' (to cut out the jaali). A wooden plank is the base for spreading out the lac. Other fine chisels and sharp tools are also used to work on the entire piece and assemble it like Chugga (pliers to bend wire), Ambur (pliers to pull wire), Jaintee-wire gauge, Gulsam (divider) and Vena (used to make dots). A small gas lamp is kept burning to heat the tips of the tools.
The gold is smothered to milimetere-thin sheets and placed on the lac bed. The lac is then heated slightly such that the sheet sinks a little into the bed and is held tighter. The gold sheet is then worked upon by cutting out the designs and patterns.
Once this is done, the filigree is laid out in a frame of silver wire called 'vaada' to lessen the risk of damage. The silver wire frame used in this task is pre-assembled on brass dies and soldered to precision. This framework is then very carefully set upon a sheet of mica using forceps. This enables the two metals(wire and sheet) to be soldered easily. After the soldering, the mica sheet is removed.
This piece is placed over a sheet of coloured Belgian glass. The filigree and the glass is bonded with a technique only known to the craftsmen. The framework is enclosed in a solid silver casing called 'chandi ki dibiya' with a thin silver foil at the bottom to add to the lustre.