Stone overlay is the less famous sibling of the star that stone inlay work has become. But this craft is now emerging from the shadows, with design houses demanding stone overlay on everything from bar counters to lamps. Unlike in inlay work, the patterns are not etched and inlaid into stone; instead, slivers of stone are pasted on any surface to create elaborate—and exquisite—jigsaw patterns. The base is rarely visible, because the patterns fill up every available inch. That means cheaper and lighter materials can be used for the base, instead of heavy, expensive stone. When the base used is acrylic and backlit, the grain patterns and colours of the stones come alive, making this craft hugely popular with designers of customised lighting. As important as aesthetics is the fact that overlay costs about half of inlay: Rs 6,000 a sq. ft. to
Rs 12,000 a sq. ft. compared with Rs 30,000 or so for inlay. Textured stones like onyx, agate, malachite, and jasper, are commonly used for overlay. Varun Seth of Jaipur’s Frozen Music, a leading creator of inlay work, says that “because of its cost and design advantage, overlay is fast overtaking inlay”. Clearly, the sibling has come into its own.

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