A Touch of Glass
Meet Divya Talwar — a designer who creates beautiful handmade earrings and pendants in glass. The exquisite metallic shades of blue,orange, amber captured in different shapes are popular with friends in the city, and clients in the US, where she lives.
Divya may have a B.Sc in Computer Science but she recalls that she has always liked using her hands. “Even as a child, I used to be very happy cutting paper, sketching, colouring and gift wrapping. I studied at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, better known as the Ashram school in Pondicherry and that was a blessing. They encouraged us to be creative and I learnt to make stuffed toys, carpentry and even needlework which I hated.”
In retrospect, all these creative activities helped because when Divya moved to the US after her marriage in 2006, she found her true calling. She says, “I used to work with my uncle for a merchant trading company but I’d visit craft stores whenever I could. I loved visiting a store called Michael’s.”
Then Divya had an epiphany of sorts, when in 2007 she saw an announcement for a beading class at the store. “I signed up and I learnt to make little earrings with beads. I fell in love with jewellery. And since I liked sparkly, blingy stuff, I would make these pieces and gift them to friends and family.”
After a while, Divya’s husband suggested she make a business out of her hobby. Divya held an exhibition at home and as a buffer in case her creations were not appreciated, she also included some pieces she had bought from India. Surprisingly, her handmade earrings did really well. “There are three possibilities: my friends were wonderful and wanted to encourage me, my creations were more affordable than the Indian pieces I had picked up or my pieces must have been really nice… I was encouraged by the response that I received. In fact, one of my neighbour’s friends was so happy with my collection that she had a jewellery party at her place the next day and called all her friends to come and take a look at my work.”
After that Divya participated at shows where artistes sell their wares. “Weekdays were spent making jewellery, and on weekends, my husband and I would take our tent, inventory and paraphernalia and we would participate in craft shows.”
It needs to be said that one can’t just choose to participate in these shows. “There is a stringent process where I apply, send pictures of my products and that of me at work, making the product and there is a jury that selects participants.” These shows run from April to December and are held all over the state and in other parts of the country. Due to logistical reasons, Divya confines herself to places in Virginia, Maryland and in the DC area.
Divya met a lady during one such show, and that meeting changed the trajectory of Divya’s creations. She says, “I met a lady named Worth Cooley-Prost, who had the most amazing glass jewellery. I fell in love with the colours she had used and kept in touch with her. I wanted to learn how she made it and I couldn’t find classes that taught the technique. When I did find some, they would not take place due to lack of students. Finally, I approached her and requested her to teach me. She was a real blessing as she taught me everything that I know.”
Divya learnt the intricacies of handling glass. “I learnt to create pieces — from basic cutting and grinding glass to fusing it. For the fused ones, I use different sheets of glass that have the same co-efficient of expansion in a kiln. I love using dichroic glass, which is glass developed by NASA from the results of research carried out on various materials. NASA developed it for use in dichroic filters. Dichroic glass is glass that is coated with metallic oxides in a vacuum chamber using a technology called thin-film physics. Dichroic means “two colours” and the glass is called so because it reflects one colour but transmits another,” says Divya, explaining the process.
Her company is called Mystic Lines and the price ranges from INR 750 – INR 7500. Apart from working with fused glass, she also does beadwork which involves assembling different components together. She believes in re-investing in her business and loves to experiment with new things. Her style is constantly evolving. The glass sheets are expensive and every piece she creates is made by hand. In a month, she makes about 100-200 glass pieces including earrings, pendants, etc.
Also, Divya doesn’t wear gloves while working since she feels it inhibits her precision. That means she is constantly removing shards of glass from her hands while making these exquisite pieces. She has recently branched out into making cuff-links and tie pins for men. Her jewellery is available at three stores in Virginia, through a woman entrepreneur in France and online on www.mysticlines.com. She is also looking to retail here in the city. Currently Divya shuttles between the US and Hyderabad.
To make a fashion statement, one doesn’t need to depend on diamonds and precious metals. Divya’s glass jewellery is highly individualistic and unusual. You can add a dash of colour with these beautiful pieces and stand out in a crowd.
Photographs by Sucharitha Rao