The surprising and beautiful art of paper mache crafts made in Kashmir – The secret behind the art of papier mache

paper mache, Jewelry gift box
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Paper mache art is not learnt or taught in schools and colleges in Kashmir. But still this is the art that feeds a significant percentage of population of Kashmiri people.

Kashmiri people make some brilliant and breath taking crafts. These include products of home decor, kitchen decor, festive decorations, wedding accessories and centerpieces and a lot more.

The best thing about this art is that the craftsmen convert the wasted industrial paper and pulp and convert the same into articles. This way we clean the environment by getting rid of wastes and recycle the same into everlasting arts and crafts.

converting wastes into art
Making of Raw Papier mache
papier mache a dying craft
Making of papier mache decorations

Paper mache

There are many types of Paper mache artwork known as naqashi types.

Papier mache art is only taught by learning while practicing the same in workshops under the guidance of its masters. This is the craft transferred by its experts from generation to generation.

Papier mache articles are a kind of nostalgia. When you bring an article home you associate many memories with it. This art involves the hard work and earning of a large community of people who strive to earn money out of this. The craftsmen of Kashmir are highly skilled at making art forms, coloring and exhibiting the amount of patience associated with making these artworks.

Formation of Papier mache

There are generally 4 main steps from making to finalizing the art of paper mache.

papier mache making raw 1
Sakthkari
  1. Sakthkari: We collect the Paper pulp, packaging wastes, old newspapers etc and make a mixture of it by using water and rice glue. We grind the pulp in a stone made vessel. The dough is kept as-is for a few days to soak the moisture. Then the mixture dough is given different shapes by hands. Some craftsmen use moulds of wood or kalibs or underlying base goods for raising the actual shapes.
  2. Smoothening or pishlawun: Same or different set of worker is involved in smoothening the surface of articles by using special resins, stones and tools. The important tool being kurkot and maya resin. Often the special tissue paper kind is mixed in rice water resin and fixed on the surface of a paper mache object to give it a base finish.
  3. Naqashi or kalamkari: Naqash is the painter and art designer who makes the artwork on the articles created so far. Naqashi is a brushwork where we colour the base of an article first. Then we construct a basic geometric pattern that helps an artist to decide how to proceed with the rest of the painting.
  4. Varnish coating: Once the painting is done the work needs to be preserved from accidental damages due to handling of the articles. Lacquer and Enamel coating helps protect the artwork for ages so that the final goods become durable enough for shipping and handling to longer distances.

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