Accessory Whizz: Ikroop Dhillon On Fusing Glass Into An Array of Colours and Shapes
Enjoying a stint at an established media house in the country three years ago, Ikroop Dhillon found a thought niggling at her constantly. She wanted to do something on her own. Right at that juncture a trip to Murano beckoned. That turned out to be a life-changing event. “I wanted to give my passion for art a chance before I hit 30. On that sleepy little Venetian island, witnessing the beautiful art created out of blown glass, I streamlined my thoughts,” recalls Dhillon, India’s only jewellery designer working with fused glass at Ikroop, the brand that she later founded.
Dhillon quit her job, a move that surprised her family and friends. “I was doing well at Network 18. And here I was giving it all up for glass art jewellery. But I had to give it a shot. I started researching glass art in books and on YouTube videos. I was completely hooked,” says the vivacious designer. She even wrote to many artists in the country working with the medium to get an insider’s knowledge.
She discovered a mentor in Atul Bakshi, whose works with blown and cast glass had been charming aficionados for the past 20 years. “It was incredible, getting to see the process and the mechanism up-close and personal. It was then that I charted a plan to launch a jewellery line focusing on glass,” narrates Dhillon, adding, “In Europe, jewellery made of glass art is pretty simplistic. They create a shape, pierce a hole into it and call it a pendant. I wanted to merge the technique from Europe and the craftsmanship of Indian artisans. The fused glass would come encased in brass structures plated in gold. That would give them an edge.”
Dhillon’s works are a delight to behold. Glass pieces, in a myriad colours, melted and fused together, are placed in brass casings to form earrings, rings and pendants. While she loves colours, she has also created a collection with iridescent glass where a thin metal film is fused into plain white glass. Drawing inspiration from diverse objects such as a seahorse, daffodils against an azure sky or anything else that catches her fancy, her jewellery is out of the ordinary. “I purposely keep the metal work minimalistic because I want the glass to be the hero. Like in these chandelier earrings, the brass danglers surround a large glass circle. It’s a classical shape but the glass gives it a twist. This is one of my sell-out pieces for weddings,” she informs.
That brings us to whether brides would pick up her creations. “All the time,” she maintains. “The sense of style of young women has evolved and there is a market for artisanal jewellery today. Girls are willing to experiment with their looks. So, while on the main day they may stick to diamonds and polki, for peripheral functions they are happy to jazz up their looks with jewellery that’s not so run-of-the-mill,” says Dhillon. The best part about Ikroop, the brand, is that it accentuates the overall look without taking away from the attire. “Earlier, Indian brides wore excessively printed or embroidered clothes. Nowadays, they seem to prefer monotones. That’s a better canvas for my creations. For my new collection, I’m doing heavy necklaces merging coloured and iridescent glass,” the designer adds.
Dhillon makes sure that her pieces are versatile. Big on the wedding circuit, each one can be styled to suit different occasions. For instance, she demonstrates a hand harness that is a top pick for brides. It can also be worn as haute bijouterie at Diwali parties. Some of her other recommendations are the green glass lotus earrings, maang tikkas, the haath phools and chandelier earrings. “The idea is to be confident in your own skin. If you carry off your costume accessories with elan, you will stand out in the crowd. Thankfully, there is a great space for fashion jewellery today as options are aplenty. And brides are embracing that trend,” she says with confidence.