The basic stones used for all the articles in most cases is white, black and green marble from the quarries of Makrana in Rajasthan which also supplied the stone for the Taj Mahal 350 yrs. ago and all other historical buildings of Agra and elsewhere. Inlay work is done on  these at Agra. The demonstration can be seen at our Factory. The method of doing Inlay is as follows :

Marble surface is painted with natural herb called "hina" which comes red on the surface of white marble so that the outlines and patterns drawn on it with a scriber become visible.

Craftsmen at work. Demonstration can be seen at our Factory.

Gemstones available in the form of rocks are firmly fixed on to a stand with the aid of a shellac. The fixed rock is sliced with a wire saw having one to eight tensed steel wires. Corborandum powder and water is frequently put on the rock while slicing it, so that the wires cut through smoothly and quickly.

Slices of gemstones are washed and chipped into small bits with a tweezer.

Bits of the gemstones are shaped against a rotating disk made of Corborandum, shellac and course sand. The craftsman holds the stones in the fingertips of his left hand, rotates the disc with a bow in the right, thus shapes them in desired form. This set of stone is then placed forming the pattern on the painted surface of the subject marble piece and their outlines marked with a scriber. The stones are then laid aside and marble chiselled to prepare exact cavities to receive the stones.

Cavities are filled with a home made paste. The finished stones are put into them and heat from a piece of burning charcoal applied to complete the chemical reaction among the ingredients.

The stones thus inlaid make an uneven surface on the marble. They are sanded down to an even level. In the last phase of polishing, zinc-oxide is sprinkled over the surface of the marble and rubbed with a wet swab of muslin to give the surface a fine gloss.
The skill of inlay craftsmen of Agra is simply amazing. They create a poppy with 32 pieces within a small diameter of 0.25 cms. Flowers with petals having veins and serrated edges may have as many as 164 pieces each. You give them any pattern howsoever intricate and they will create in inlay.

Gemstones Used in Inlay Work

Marble in whatever colour is beautiful, even without decoration. In order to highlight its beauty, the method of inlaying it with different types of gemstones was evolved. the various gemstones used in Inlay work are as follows :

Lapis Lazuli Rich Bright Blue with spots of Gold Tiger Eye Coffee Brown with Golden lines
Melachite Dark Green with sedimentary lines Turquoise Aqua Blue or Sea Green
Carnelian Orange (with light it shines through) The following Sea Shells are also used in Inlay
Coral Opaque Bright Red & Cream Mother of Pearl White Shiny
Jasper Opaque Yellow & Reddish Brown Conch Shell Milky White
Black Onyx Jet Black Paua Shell White shinning with Rainbow colours


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