Glass-blower Reshmi Dey now has a line of jewellery


Reshmi Dey recently demonstrated and talked about the art and craft of glass-blowing at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Delhi

Last week, Reshmi Dey demonstrated and talked about the art and craft of glass blowing at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Delhi, in an event called The Story of Czech Glass. Her work stood with eight Czech companies, as she, along with Jiri Pacineck, one of that country’s well-known glass makers, gave a glass-making demo in her mobile studio.

Dey discovered glass when an ex-partner ordered in some glassware from Firozabad, a hub of India’s glass-making industry. She says she was mesmerised: “The light, the reflection, the refraction. I still remember there was a teal vase and a fine hand-engraved smokey flower vase.” That was in 1999, and she was 25.

Dey, who grew up in Tinsukhia, Assam, and Kolkata, and dabbled in the hospitality industry that was just opening up in the area, boarded a train to Delhi in 1995, looking to do her MBA, much to the horror of her family, “because Delhi was this big, bad place”. Born to a conservative government employee father and a mother who wanted her to strike out on her own, she says her whole aim in life was, “To find myself, create my own identity, see what I was capable of.”

Glass-blower Reshmi Dey now has a line of jewellery

Once she determined that she’d work with glass the rest of her life, she trained at the Centre for the Development of Glass Industry, Firozabad, and also at the factories there, “at a time when people wouldn’t even send their sons to the area.” The men would look at her strangely, because she’d be the only woman in the workshop. She remembers an incident when the then principal director introduced her to one of Firozabad’s prominent industrialists, saying she was a promising student. “I still remember him saying, ‘Does she make it in her kitchen?’”

Despite the scepticism, she started her venture in 1999, selling her gold to start a small studio with ₹33,000 (“There was no studio culture in India at the time”) that supplied home decorative pieces to Ebony, Good Earth and to The Next Store. In 2017, she started her Chhattarpur studio, Glass Sutra.

Over the years, she has studied internationally, doing projects with architects such as Manish Banker from Pune, or with art curators. The wall at Surajkund’s Taj Vivanta is hers, as is the installation at Le Meridien, Gurugram. She also does table pieces, candlestands and a lighting range, with jewellery, her latest addition. Gappei meaning amalgamation in Japanese, includes neckpieces, earrings and rings.

Glass, she says, connects with her: “It has strength, fragility, transparency, translucence. It doesn’t break easily, unlike what people think. It’s kind of like a woman.” As she prepares to create a piece called Hands of a Craftsperson, Heart of an Artist, a tree, 9 ft x 6 ft, out of glass and crochet (“I love how both the glass and the yarn are fluid”), she says she sees herself as a glass blower, a designer, an artist and a craftsperson all in one, with a mission to take glass as a material to the people.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 1:44:43 PM |

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