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  • 19 Aug 2019
  • design inspiration

Inside story: Indian Inlay

Inside story: Indian Inlay

In a range of sizes and a spectrum of colours - from bold pink and soft lilac to forest green, aqua and yellow, or classic monochrome and grey - our bone inlay boxes and trays are a beautiful and versatile addition to your shelves; we use ours to tuck away all manner of home clutter. But what is the story behind these intricate pieces? We delved into the history and heritage behind the designs.

Bone inlay was once ivory inlay, an age-old technique which finds its roots in ancient Egypt and the tombs of the Pharaohs. The craft has been practised in India for centuries, carefully passed down through generations. Its Indian origins are with the first Maharajahs - wealthy princes who used the technique to adorn the furniture in their palaces.

An artisan in India working the Inlay technique with mother of pearl and wood.
 An artisan in India working the Inlay technique with mother of pearl and wood.

These days the decorative technique is created using discarded bones from animals including camels and buffalo, who have died naturally. The craft is practised widely across India. Wicklewood’s partner artisans are based in Northern India, in Rajasthan. The largest Indian state of the Indian states, Rajasthan is a riot of rich colour and pattern and home to many of India’s indigenous crafts.

From the magical cities of Jaipur, Udaipur and Jodhpur, in vibrant, buzzing workshops, our boxes and trays are made via skills that have been taught through generations. Meticulously created via a process which can take up to a month, each box requires three main steps and three skilled artisans...

Into shape

First, the fragments of bone are individually shaped. A team of craftsman carve the delicate bone pieces into flowers, leaves, geometric shapes, whatever the imagination of the designer demands.

 Wicklewood indian inlay pieces are available in different shapes, colours and sizes

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Star leaf inlay box in red, Leaf inlay box in yellow and Round inlay box in blue and white

 

Perfect patterns

Meanwhile, the box skeletons are made by a separate team of craftsman. The shaped pieces of bone are handed over and the desired pattern is set on the boxes. Created by hand and extremely fiddly, no two pieces are ever exactly the same - all part of the charm of working in this way.

 Shop now Wicklewood new Inlay Round boxes
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Our just landed Round Indian inlay boxes come in three sizes: small, medium and large.

A polished finish

When the bone design has been finalised, it is time to add the coloured resin. The selected colour is filled in between the bone with a spatula, to create a smooth coloured background and offset the crisp white bone. Pieces are left to dry in the Rajasthan sun and the box is finally polished and finished, ready for your sitting room.

Wicklewood offers a wide range of hand made bone inlay trays and boxes in different colours and shapes

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