HISTORY OF SHELL CRAFTS-Shell craft in India does not have major history behind it for it was developed by a team of pioneers and designers constantly in the action of trailing something new and exclusive. This craft involves the making of colorful and fascinating decorative objects by using sea shells. The shell craft not only results in the making of decorative items but also a wide range of utilitarian items or objects like boxes and mirror frames covered in shells. The craft making also includes shell jewelry and figurines made from shells. Some of the major constructions with the sea shells include mosaics and shell grottos.
THE DECORATIVE ITEMS GOT AS A RESULT OF THE SHELL CRAFT-The decorative items got as a result of the shell craft are cherished by people across the globe especially the foreigners who come to India. Though this is a very small folk art carried out usually by amateurs in most part of the country, whereas in country like Philippines shell craft is more of a business. Apart from these items being in demand the shell craft is also associated with some religious and social significance. Apart from the known expensive gems, man was also exposed to the most colorful and fascinating shells, especially the ornaments and embellishments made out of them is liked by all people belonging to different status.
SHELLS ARE BASICALLY THE HARD OUTER PROTECTIVE COVERING OF SEA CREATURES-Shells are basically the hard outer protective covering of sea creatures which is found in abundance on the sea shores. These shells are handpicked and used to craft out both outstanding utilitarian and decorative items. Various items like ornaments, musical instruments, drinking cups and many more artifacts are made out of the shells. They are supposed to be used with more of aesthetic sense too. Shells such as Giant clam, Green mussel and Oyster support edible shell fishery and a few like Scallops, Clams and Cockles are burnt in kiln to produce edible lime. Shells are available in a wide range of colors, shades and tones.
THE EXISTENCE OF THE SEA SHELL CRAFT CAN BE TRACED FROM THE PERIOD OF PORTUGUESE
-This art form helps in the translation of innovative ideas of the craftsmen into product creation and surface recreation altogether to a new height.The existence of the sea shell craft in India can be traced from the period of Portuguese in Goa where their architectures like doors and windows were adorned with sea shells. The regular sea shell products include posters, curtains, chandeliers, pot hangers, table lamps and mirror frames. Cleaning of the shells is done with certain chemicals which gives a gleam and an ornamental look.
TYPES OF SHELL CRAFT - THE CONCH SHELL CRAFT AND TORTOISE SHELL CRAFTConch Shell Craft-The shells of the sea snails are called as conch shells which are considered to be very sacred for blowing of conches in many religious and social functions is supposed to be very auspicious where the sound is believed to ward off evil forces, especially in Asian countries. Conch ornaments were very popular during the period of Pandya dynasty. Archeological excavations show that there were number of conch shell inlay work items and buildings decorated with conch shells. Apart from this contemporary conch shell works include ornaments, musical instruments, decorative items with figurine and floral designs and many more crafts.
The making of conch shell craft is quite intricate say for crafting a conch shell bangle the edges are cut and then cleaned. This is followed by tightly wedging the shell between the right heel and the left toe of the artisan. Then the base is cut with the help of a saw and rings are sliced out with a curved saw. The holes are then sealed with wax and the joint is painted with colored drops. The final polish is given to the product by dipping it in a solution of nitric acid and then polishing it with a dry cloth. Thus with conch shells the artisans make bracelets, spoons, forks, lockets, decorative bowls, and armlets.
Tortoise Shell Craft- The tortoise shell whose use is very limited is mainly concentrated in Vishakhapatnam area in Andhra Pradesh run by private units. It is not as such used as tortoise shell but instead along with ivory. These shells are mainly used to make table lamps, decorative items, ashtrays, spoons, forks, jewellery and buttons with geometrical motifs and mythological figures.