Man of mettle speaks: mirror, mirror on the wall...

Krishnakumar, a traditional bronze smith, who makes the Adakkaputhur style of metal mirrors, talks about his work

Published: 14th March 2018 02:19 PM  |   Last Updated: 14th March 2018 02:19 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI:When we hear about a metal mirror, what comes to our mind is the famous Aranmula metal mirrors made by a few traditional craftsmen. But there exists one more family in the Palakkad district who make Adakkaputhur metal mirrors which are equally good in quality but are designed in a unique way. This community known as ‘Masoori’ were involved in making ornaments, utensils and even kitchen items in brass or bronze. However, only Krishnakumar, the son of the late Balan Moosari is the only one who is keeping the tradition alive and making them with the same dedication that his father did several years ago.

“I learnt everything from my father, who knew the secret technique of mixing the metals and giving it a glass effect,” says Krishnakumar. “After completing Class 10, I began helping my father and after his death, I am continuing the work.”

The mirrors are designed like a Val Kannadi, a hand mirror in bronze, which symbolises the Goddess Bhagavathi. Krishnakumar explains that the procedure is similar to casting vessels but the ratio of the metals, copper and tin used in making mirrors vary and it is a trade secret. First, the mould is made using mud and clay. To enable it, a replica of the mirror to be cast is made of wax and covered with mud, clay and cow dung. Once it is heated, the mud hardens and the wax seeps out. After 12 hours of drying when the mould is ready, the boiling liquid alloy is poured into the mould for casting. It is then polished to get a reflective surface so that one is able to see through it. “It takes around six days to complete a two-inch size glass work and about 12 days to complete one mirror,” says Krishnakumar.

This 36-year-old is famous for his Val Kannadi models. “Earlier I used to do different models but now I am concentrating on customised models,” he says. People come from far and near to get hold of one of these Val Kannadis. “The work is risky and time-consuming as many times we might not get the mirrors in perfect shapes,” says Krishnakumar. Incidentally, the smallest Val Kannadi is priced at Rs 6,000.
Till now, this traditional craftsman has made more than 1,000 Val Kannadis. He wishes to continue making his signature bronze metal mirrors which have become one of the most sought-after.

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