During our North India tour, we spent two nights at an eco-farm, one of whose goals is to connect tourists with local craftsmen and craftswomen who can teach skills and sell their wares to tourists who are interested in helping the local community. There were several artisans who came to show us their trades: a tie-dyer, a wood carver, and a couple who make bangles. I joined the last group, and spent a fabulous afternoon watching these two people make their beautiful bangles.
They started with a resin, which the man would heat up, then coat in the colored pieces of resin we chose for our individual bangles. I was the first to choose my colors, and chose a teal green and purple. I had to find two metal rings that fit my wrist, which I gave them along with my color choices. We watched as the color blended into the resin, and then the man twisted them together into a striped pattern. The woman then attached the resin to the metal circle, which helps reinforce the bangle. One by one, we each picked our colors, and then watched as our bangles were made. We experimented with thicker and thinner bangles, two or three colors, and bangle sizes. As we went along, people got more creative in their selections. I think everyone got at least two sets of bangles made.
When we asked how many they could make in a day, the answer was between 400 and 500. This seemed like a fantastically high number, but as we watched them make their bangles with such ease and precision honed by decades of practice, it didn’t seem so unbelievable. In addition to those made right there before our eyes, they had brought along some bangles ready-made, and some of us chose a few of those as well. These were often studded with rhinestones as well as various colors. In the end, we all made out like bandits with our hauls of pretty bangles, taking with us not just our purchases, but also a newfound respect for the craftsmen who create these pieces.