Hoshiarpur’s Inlay Art: Cutting & Pasting With Precision And Perfection

Acrylic inlay art tissue box

If you think cutting and pasting is just a child’s play, your thoughts about ‘Cut and Paste’ will under go a drastic change as you learn about this art of inlaying.

Yes! The Art of Inlay

I am definitely not talking about the cut and paste on the computer or your child’s art book. Our concern here is about cutting bones, shells or acrylic sheets and setting or pasting them in the grooves created on the wood resulting in the formation of beautiful patterns or designs.

As this art form symbolizes both – hard and hand work, how could SouvNear refrain from including these items of wood, decorated with acrylic, in its collection. These small-yet-artistic wooden handicrafts such as coasters, pen stands and ashtrays reflect in themselves the touch of perfection and excellence.

This art of inlaying on wood is 300 years old in Punjab and the city of ‘Hoshiarpur’ is at the pinnacle for making timeless creations in this art form ranging from jewelry boxes, tissue boxes and napkin holders in variety of inlay designs. Situated in the foothills of the great Himalayan Ranges in the north of India, the city blooms with this ‘Flavor of Art’ throughout the year.

These handicrafts ornamented with inlay work are made in quality ‘Sheesham Or Rosewood’, a high quality timber, available in abundance in the region. These magnificent objects are absolutely handcrafted by the skilled artists of the region without any machinery, except small tools, following a definite procedure.

This procedure of inlaying is not written down anywhere but it is passed from one generation to another and thus well accepted and followed without any doubt.

Before the actual procedure starts, the artisans prepare a workable and friendly background. This background is the TRACING of designs. For tracing, first the pattern to be inlaid is drawn on a piece of paper. This pattern can be of floral or geometrical designs or traditional motifs. Now this drawn pattern is traced on both, the wood and acrylic sheet, using ink.

After tracing, next step is that of ETCHING. As the patterns have been drawn, the wood is ready for etching. The artisan starts the process of etching on the wood with sharp knives and chisels. This leads to the creation of the grooves in the wood. Mostly, the grooves of 3mm depth are created and the piece is made favorable for inlay.

SETTING & PASTING of acrylic pieces is the next and most crucial of all the steps. After creating grooves in the wood, the artisan cuts the acrylic sheet with sharp knives on the traced patterns. Now these small pieces of acrylic are set in the grooves on the wood and each piece is carefully glued to the wood. The artisan also uses the hammers to set the piece right – into the groove.

An artisan at work on hammering in the inlays

An artisan setting an acrylic piece into the groove with the help of a hammer

And, thus before the artisan lies an inlaid masterpiece but in a rough look.

This rough piece is smoothened with sandpaper and polished in lac. The lac is rubbed, in to and fro motion, on the inlaid piece. Ideally the piece is covered with two or three layers of lac and thus given a matte or glazed finish as per the requirement.

Artisans engaged in creating the beautiful inlay art artefacts

A group of artisans polishing the artifacts that have already been inlaid with acrylic pieces

Undoubtedly it can be said that this is definitely not a child’s play. This art of inlay is much more than just cut and paste. Years of experience and hard work give the artisans a command over this art form. These artisans though belong to Punjab but their pieces-of-art belong to the whole world.

On the behalf of these artisans, SouvNear takes this art form to a different level where it is recognized and praised. The team is obliged to do its bit in reaching out to the global community so that we can join hands and promote these fading handicrafts.

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