Varanasi also known as Banaras and Kashi is a North Indian city on the river bank of Ganges in Uttar Pradesh. The handicrafts of Uttar Pradesh has earned a reputation for themselves over the centuries. Most of the renowned Indian writers were resided in the Varanasi. The delicate and intricate work on the sarees, carpet, wooden works are unmatched. Varanasi is one among the hub of the stone craft in India.
Soapstone is a metamorphic rock that is composed primarily of talc, with varying amounts of chlorite, micas, amphiboles, carbonates and other minerals. Because it is composed primarily of talc it is usually very soft. Soapstone is typically gray, bluish, green, or brown in color. Soapstone has been used in India for centuries as a medium for carving. Since soapstone is impenetrable it will not stain easily. The oldest identified soapstone crafts were made by artisans of china. From its beginnings in China, the art of working with soapstone spread throughout the world. Experts believe that the artwork made of soapstone has survived throughout centuries. Soapstone beads are hand-carved by skilled artisans, then drilled top to bottom for stringing. Soapstone is a soft, easily carved material that comes in a variety of mixed natural colors.
Artisan Shedhal Lal who is involved in the beads making says that he is working in soapstone bead making since 1975.In the beginning he started his work in Kujwa and after that he was working under Kejriwal in Choti Gaibi in Varanasi and now after saving some money, he started his own small scale industry where he work on making of beads and other stone carving items. The people involved in beads making facing lots of problem due to lack of raw materials and increase in price and beads are made with the use of machines, erratic power supply has affected the production of beads. They get most of the orders from the Banaras beads factory. Artisan says that china product has affected the Indian handicrafts market.