There are about 500 families involved in the lac bangle-making business in Jaipur. These families have their own Bhatti. Two to three persons can work on a furnace. The flat metal surface on either side of the Bhatti is heated by the fire in the furnace. On this the artisan makes bangles of different sizes. This process is generally done by the male workers while the female partner plays helping role. The bangle making involves three major steps:
Making of colors:
The process of making colors starts with melting the Lac pieces in kadhai (shallow vessel). The heating is done till the solid lac pieces turns into 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 it is stuck at the end of a wooden or cane stick. Different colors are stuck on different sticks and shaped into a cube form. The color used depends on the market demand. Traditionally red, green and yellow colors are used.
Making of the bangles:
Normal lac is stuck on a wooden rod and rolled over a flat surface to make it into a cylindrical shape. This lac is then heated slowly over the coal Angethi (burner). The heated lac is continuously pressed and rolled over the flat iron plate with the help of Hatta. The colored lac is heated simultaneously and then applied evenly by rubbing it on the lac. The artisans make sure that the lac has reached a sufficiently warm and soft stage before applying the color on it. This process is called Rang Chapna. Once the color has been applied to the lac base it is again shaped with the help of Hatta into a thin coil and 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 aritans. The coil is then placed in a farma, and pressed with the help of hatta so that the coil takes the shape of the farma. Coil is then taken out and heated again over the burner so that the ends can be joined together to form a bangle. The process is called Moojodaai. Thus it is passed over to another artisan for further work. The semi formed bangle is slipped into a round wooden beam with a tapering end for different sizes and adjusted for size. The artisan rubs the lac bangles over this wooden beam with the help of a piece of cotton cloth dipped in oil. This gives shine to the bangles. The process is called Ghotaai. Once the size and shape is obtained wooden beam along with the bangles is dipped in cold water to freeze the shape. Bangles are taken out and kept at a clean cool place.
The bangles are ready to be embellished with sequins, semi-precious stones, mirrors, beads etc. For applying the sequins, they are heated over a tin plate kept on a small burner. The metal base of the sequins gets heated and easily melts the lac surface on which they are placed and stick there after cooling. They are picked up one at a time and stuck on the bangle. The process requires great precision. It takes much longer when working with smaller sized sequins. This process is called as Chipai. The embellishment is done by the women of the family.