If you were to wander some of the back alleyways in Pune, a town about 3hrs east of Mumbai, you would hear a chorus of drumming sounds as hammer meets metal. The rhythm and momentum is unwavering, each clang bouncing off the walls of these modest outdoor workshops called karkhanas. This is the art of Matharkaam, hand beaten work; and for the lineage of some Pune craftspeople, a traditional craft dating back to 300 years.
Once a highly sought profession, copper metalwork slowly faded into obscurity under British rule, particularly with the introduction of new materials and an economy driven by mass production. The settlement of metalworking artisans in Pune called the Tambat Ali, slowly dwindled in numbers, and their craft now remains in the hands of a few, passed on by each family generation.
Rashmi Ranade, founder and lead designer at Coppre, is passionate about reinvigorating this heritage Indian craft and so formed a collective with the Tambats to develop a range of contemporary metal homewares. Through this collaboration, Rashmi’s minimal yet functional designs have reintroduced copper back into home decor, and given this ancient Indian craft a new lease of life.
Each product is made from sheets of copper that have been shaped from custom wood moulds. Once the product shape has been formed, the exterior is decorated with hundreds of hand-beaten impressions in a radial pattern. This task requires a keen hand-foot-eye coordination and in an addition to the physical strength, it takes mental resilience to be able to endure hours of hammering at a time. From cutting to beating to lacquering, each stage is performed by hand from one of the highly skilled Tambats at their karkhana and carefully passed on until reaching Coppre’s studio.