A cluster is defined as a geographic concentration (a city/town/few adjacent village and their adjoining areas) of units producing near similar products and facing common opportunities and threats. An artisan cluster is defined as geographically concentrated (mostly in villages/townships) household units producing handicraft/handloom products. In a typical cluster, such producers often belong to a traditional community, producing the long-established products for generations. Indeed, many artisan clusters are centuries old Artisan.
About Kharai Cluster:-
Kharai Cluster falls under Uttarkhand State in Nainital district.
The Kharai cluster is able to form 300 plus Artisans & 20 SHGs supporting the strong work force. The mobilization gains momentum day by day.
Uttarakhand is the largest brass and copper making region in the world with thousands of establishments spread all over for articles made out of one or more pieces of metal.The copper or brass sheet is first marked out by a pair of compass and the piece or pieces cut off by a scissor called katari. The required shape is made by alternate heating and hammering, and is finally turned on the lathe. The final polish to the article is given on the lathe itself.
Metal ornaments have been a rave in all ages and times. The attractive contrasts in colours and textures of metals has led to the evolution of metal ornamentation through techniques like inlay, overlay, applique, fixing of colours etc.
The princely states of India demanded not only enamelled jewellery but also enamelled utensils such as wine-cups, finger-bowls, pill boxes etc., in both gold and silver repousse, sometimes studded with jewels.The craftspersons of India excel in this art. With the evolution of new tools,techniques and skills, they are now better equipped to cater to modern tastes.Fully geared to meet modern market demands, today the gold and silver plated articles produced are usually plain or even when ornamented are devoid of extensive encrustation.Portions of silver articles are sometimes covered with water.
In India, Brass and Copper are used for making various usable objects since ancient time. It has a rich tradition of making metal objects which are used for both religious and secular purposes. A wide variety of objects include standing lamps, aarathi (votive lamps), deepalakshmis, hand lamps and chain lamps. Shallow dishes circular, hexagonal, octagonal and oval shapes are widely used and are made out of bronze or sheet brass. The popular Thanjavur plates are characterized by designs of deities, birds, flowers, and geometric patterns beaten out from the back of copper and silver sheets and subsequently encrusted on a brass tray, kudam or panchpaathra. Metal toys are also popular and are sold at various gift outlets in various towns and cities of the state.
The craftsmen cast their own pieces, making moulding clay from sand, resin and oil in proportion (20:2:1) and add borax to the clay surface to prevent the metal sticking.The alloy, the darkened zinc used as base is described as nine to sixteen part of zinc to one of copper, is melted and poured into the moulds and solidified.
The surface of the rough cast of the articles is filed and smoothened with sand paper and then rubbed with a solution of copper sulphate to impart a dark surface to provide a suitable base for the next stage of tracing the design and engraving.
To engrave the design, wax from honeycomb and Raal a bonding agent is used. This solution is spread on a flat stone and the article to be engraved is fixed on it. The design is traced by hand, with the help of chisels and pure silver wire of 95% purity is inlaid in the grooves to form designs. There are five different types of tools used for engraving.
In the ultimate interesting stage, the articles are heated gently and treated with a solution of sal-ammoniac and earth taken from old fort buildings, which has the effect of making the entire surface turn jet black providing a distinct contrast to the shining silver inlay.
It is this contrast that lends Bidri a uniqueness that no other metal ware could possibly claim. Finally, oil is rubbed on the piece to deepen the black matt coating. The entire process is done by hand hence, is time consuming.
The techniques of metalworking follow the same principles, whether the scale of design is industrial or sculptural, or even at the tiny scale of a ring or a pair of earrings. Furthermore, many of the basic techniques also relate to work in other media.
Applique:- The technique of creating a design by soldering or granulating cut-out shapes of sheet metal to another metal surface.
Casting:- The process of shaping a molten metal by means of a mold.
Chasing:- A technique for surface embellishing of metal accomplished by driving pointed tools into the metal.
Enameling:- The fusing of a glassy substance onto metal. Enamels are combinations of flux and metal oxides (for color). Cloisonne is one of the better known enamel techniques.
Repousee:- A technique of pushing metal out from its reverse side using hammers and punches in order to create a low relief design on the front.
How to Reach:-
The nearest airport from Nainital is Pantnagar (70kms) with direct flights from Delhi. But Delhi and Lucknow are more convenient airports for reaching Nainital since none of these places are too far from Nainital and are well connected with the rest of India.
An extensive network of roads connect Nainital with prominent cities in Uttarakhand and other north Indian cities. You can reach Nainital by road from Delhi (310kms), Haldwani (40kms), Dehradun (300kms).
It is quite convenient to reach Nainital by rail. Kathgodam (35kms) is the nearest railhead from Nainital. A well laid network of broad gauge railway links Nainital to Delhi, Kolkata and Dehradun.