Uthavache Kaam or metal embossing refers to a technique of applying raised motifs and designs to sheet metals like silver, gold, copper, brass and aluminium. Nashik, a district in Maharashtra is known for Uthavache Kaam in Silver metal. This technique is used to craft a variety of products from display items to temple works, idols, utensils and much more.
The first step to making any product is to keep the pitch (ral path) in position and to fill it with the resin of tar or brick powder. The pitch is then heated and kept to be cooled aside. A sheet of silver is placed over the cooled pitch with the required design drawn onto the surface. An etching tool is then used to create an outline of the design. A dulling tool is then used to press down the portion that is not supposed to be highlighted. This process is repeated until the sheet is fully embossed. The embossed portion is given further shape by using a chipping tool. The pitch is then reheated to remove the final product. As a finishing touch, the embossed sheet is cleaned in diluted sulphuric acid and brightened with soapnut solution to be wiped, brushed and polished.
Uthavache Kaam had in the earlier days received patronages from royal families. However, recently we have witnessed a dwindling of this craft that was once hereditary. The craft is one such that demands a lot of accuracy for its intricate details and relies on manual labour heavily. It’s the skill of the craftsman that makes up the craft. It is an art that is truly deserving of more attention and merit from our side.