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Metals have always been a part of home décor in India. Gold, silver, copper, brass and steel are commonly used in décor accessories. Beaten metal (matthar kaam), bidri (silver engraving), metal enamel work and cut work on sheet metals, are various forms of popular metallic crafts. Among all the metals, brass, which is an alloy of zinc and copper, is the most adaptable metal for making handcrafted objects and has been used for ages.
“Brass has a beautiful gold-like colour. It is easily available and can be used to design objects with interesting finishes,” points out Tejas Soni, a product designer based in Jaipur, who has used brass to create home décor products, as well as art and light installations for interior and exterior spaces. “Nothing has changed, except the design perspective of artists and sculptors. Contemporary artists synergise traditional knowledge and skills, with modern needs, to create products that can be used in contemporary and classical décor,” adds Soni.
Adding brass artefacts to your home décor
Nowadays, brass is not just used in traditional items like idols, puja accessories and utensils, but also in fancy accessories in urban homes. Brass creations, like lamps, vases, baskets, wall clocks, tableware, etc., from various states of India are well-known. Brass is also increasingly being used in kitchen and bathroom fixtures, as accents in furniture and even as frames for photographs.
“Metal partitions, brass jalli work, replicas of old products (like water heaters), brass figurines, candle stands, planters, trays and coasters made of brass, are all used to decorate homes. New materials, like corian, are used for metal engraving, while laser cutting is used to get consistent output for jalli work,” says Shibani Jain, CEO and founder of Baaya Design, which has a wide collection of brass dokra craft items from West Bengal and Chhattisgarh and cast products like the ‘tree of life’, figurines, bowls, trays and utility items like spoons, tumblers and water jugs.
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Tanya Chandra, who has adorned her Chennai home with brass shares “I have made liberal use of brass, to create striking accent pieces in my home. The main door has a huge carved bell, which belongs to my grandmother and there is an urli at the entrance. The dining area has three brass pendant lights suspended from the ceiling. All my temple accessories are in brass. I simply love the tall diya stands and the lovely brass jalli partition, between the temple and living room.”
Tips for display of brass items at home
- Heirloom pieces made of brass, can be integrated in any décor, be it vintage, modern, minimal or traditional.
- Brass combined with wood, looks sophisticated. Hence, you can add furniture pieces that have this combination.
- Brass can also be used for the frames of mirrors or fancy vases. You can also opt for a brass sink in the bathroom or a huge carved wall panel.
- However, do not go overboard. Avoid glitzy brass all around. Keep it subtle, with only a few selected brass pieces to add glamour to your home.
Cleaning and maintenance of brass items
- Use a few drops of coconut oil soaked in a cotton ball and wipe it over your brass figurines (after they have been polished), every two or three weeks. This helps the item to retain its sheen and reduces tarnishing.
- One can use brass polishing agents that are easily available in hardware or paint stores.
- Avoid keeping brass pieces in areas where there is humidity.