In the late nineties, Roopa Vohra made her first foray into the fashion industry when she came across a piece of Thewa - a special art of jewellery making which involves embossing intricately worked-out sheet gold on molten glass.
The Thewa process originated from the state of Rajasthan during the Mughal period (around 1600). The craft today often still depicts scenes from the court of the Mughals or from life in Rajasthan, although events from Hindu mythology are also commonplace. More abstract designs became common during the modern period. Vohra herself is particularly interested in abstract designs.
In any case, the process is much the same: the artisan first creates the desired pattern or design on the sheet of gold, a stage in the process which can take months. After this crucial element is complete, the artisan then mixes finely-ground terracotta with chemicals and oil to create a thick paste. This paste is then layered over a wooden plate with 23-carat gold embedded in it. After this delicate process is complete, the design is embossed on the sheet of glass. Finally, small adjustments and embellishments are made by the artisan according to her wishes.
From the moment Vohra discovered that piece of Thewa jewellery, she was inspired to revive traditional Indian jewellery techniques, launching her career in fashion in the process. She has since become one of the most well-known designers in the industry.
Anyone wishing to see famous examples of Thewa throughout history should visit the Victoria & Albert museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, or local art museums throughout India. Thewa's increasingly worldwide appeal is reflected by the craft's presence in this plethora of museums.