How to do Tanjore paintings on glass

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How to do Tanjore paintings on glass
Gemstones form an integral part of Tanjore paintings. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Tanjore -- more correctly Thanjuvur -- paintings stand out for the ornate use of gemstones, gold and brilliant paints. While they were originally done on boards, it’s possible to create one on glass, which makes one step -- the addition of golden adornments -- much easier

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Reference book
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Fine black board marker
  • Picture glass
  • Oil paints
  • Semi-precious gemstones or small pieces of polished glass
  • Glue
  • Cloth
  • Gold-effect wrapping paper
  • Picture frame

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Acquire a reference book on Hindu art in general or Tanjore paintings in particular for inspiration. Tanjore paintings are usually of gods, goddesses and other important figures.

  2. 2

    Sketch the design on paper, preferably using a pencil so that you can perfect it before you start. These are ornate paintings and the materials aren’t the cheapest, so you probably don’t want several aborted efforts.

  3. 3

    Order or cut a sheet of picture glass to the desired final size of the painting. If you are repurposing an old picture frame, perhaps one from a charity shop, remove and use the glass in the frame as it is.

  4. 4

    Place the paper design under the glass and trace it using a fine black marker. Use a teacher’s board maker, not a permanent one.

  5. 5

    Remove the paper and turn the glass over. You now have a guide to your painting.

  6. 6

    Glue gemstones or small pieces of polished, coloured glass in the appropriate places.

  7. 7

    Fill in the design using luminous oil paints, adding one colour at a time. You’ll need to wait several days and possible a week or more for each colour to dry. Remember to leave blank the areas that are to be golden in the final painting.

  8. 8

    Wipe away the black outline from the reverse of the glass with a dry cloth.

  9. 9

    Cut a sheet of metallic gold wrapping paper to fit and position behind the glass when framing your art work.

Tips and warnings

  • To create the three-dimensional effect seen in some Tanjore paintings, mould small pieces of clay to the appropriate shape, let them dry and glue to the glass. Cover with paint, ideally gold-effect paint. Don’t overdo this embellishment and remember that it adds to the weight of the piece.
  • Tanjore paintings are elaborate affairs and creating a reasonable imitation requires some level of skill. This is not one of those typical craft projects that everybody and their children can do -- you need some artistic ability. As the materials are not cheap, it’s also a good idea to have several trial runs on paper for the design and a couple on scrap glass with just paint for the technique before you start.

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