The glass industry in Firozabad were a totally male dominated world.
Glass artist and entrepreneur Reshmi Dey talks about how she found her calling in glass art which was the driving force behind her setting up India’s first glass art studio and many more.
It might sound cliched, but artist and entrepreneur Reshmi Dey truly believes that glass art is something she was destined to do.
Initially, when Dey, who originally hails from Assam, started her journey in glass art there was no defined manner in which one could learn. “It was less of an art and more of industrial work done by local artisans based out of Firozabad — the glass capital of India. But that did not hinder my growing love for glass — its translucent nature and the way light passes through creating dramatic effects, aroused my curiosity,” shares Dey who one day decided to hop onto a train and go all the way to Firozabad.
“It was a male dominated industry and next to impossible to find a woman working there. Initially they told me to give them designs and they would provide me the product. But I told them that I wanted to work on glass, making it a medium to express myself,” she recalls.
The 45-year-old was keen to learn the art but found no one to teach her. Finally, an online study helped. “Around the same time, in Firozabad, a government institute invited master artisans and artists from the Czech Republic. I went down to ask them if I could hang out with them for the time they were here. They stayed for a month and with them I got to understand the beauty of glass art and craft,” shares Dey, for whom glass is a medium to express herself.
Later, Dey further honed her craft at International Glass Centre in Dudley, UK, where she earned a diploma in glass art. While all was well when she was travelling the world and learning the art, her desire to put all the learning and create something new came to a halt once she was back in India.
“I realised that making my dream into a reality wouldn’t be a cakewalk due to lack of facilities — there were no studios for artists to work in. But that did not deter me and I continued working from Firozabad — teaching artists and together creating work worth calling art.”
However, working out of an industrial setup wasn’t easy and Dey felt the need for a space to create art. And this marked the beginning of Glass Sutra, India’s first glass art studio.
For Dey, the idea behind setting up the studio was to make people aware of the art. Time and again Dey gets to hear from people how the whole experience of watching the art come to life is similar to the ones they have witnessed abroad.
Prior to finding her passion, Dey graduated in economics and math from Cotton College, Guwahati. It was in 1995 that she came to Delhi to find a career. “I sat for various papers — from Public Relations to advertising — only to understand that writing wasn’t my cup of tea.”
When asked what would she be doing had she not prusued her passion for glass art, she laughs, “Well, it would have been something creative. Though at one point in my live, when I was young, I was really keen about acting and wanted to be on the stage.”
Dey has another love — her five-year-old American Labrador, Seven. “Surprisingly, he was delivered to me on my birthday and I still haven’t figured out who sent him.” It is next to impossible to separate them as Seven accompanies Dey to her workplace and almost everywhere she goes. She calls him the “Chief happiness officer” at her studio and one of the major reasons for coping with all her professional pressures.
After a good day’s work, Dey finds comfort in playing with Seven with music on. “I love listening to music as it creates a positive vibe around me. I'm not religious but I’m spiritual and I just can’t stand negative energy around me.”
Not to forget, she is also a regular at the Jaipur literature festival. “Since I hardly get time to read, I prefer going to literature festivals and listening to authors and meeting them.”