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Decorative Arts in Kashmir Papier Mache

Decorative papier mache items have long been treasures of India. This ancient art form dates back to Persian times and has been passed down through the courts to the artisans homes in the picturesque Kashmir valley. The intricate paintings on boxes featured the beautiful Mughal gardens of Shalimar, Nishat and Chashmashahi. Gorgeous, colorful flowers

and leaves from these gardens have been my inspiration for the boxes, photo frames, bangles, ornaments that master craftsmen create for the museums around the country.

The 12 step craft process begins with sculpting, forming and finishing crushed paper, hand painting each piece and then layering it with multiple coats of varnish. More durable than wood, papier mache resists warping and cracking. Each piece is painstakingly created and is a stunning original. A treasured keepsake and a work of art!

Products from Designs by Sudha

Art of Lacquer in Jewelry and Decorative Accessories

I have long been fascinated with the exquisitely handcrafted lacquer and gemstone Meenakari by jewelers in Jaipur, India. I first introduced this “Meenakari” enameling technique over lacquer on gold and silver jewelry. The necklace from Designs by Sudha is strung with garnets and mina chowkies” squares, and has been a signature piece in my collection. The process is laborious. A piece is fixed on a stick of lacquer and delicate floral designs engraved on it . Engravings are made in the groves and the enamel colors filled in with the delicacy of a miniature paintings. ‘Kundan’ and mina are part of great jewelry heritage of India.

In decorative arts, I introduced lacquer with mirrors during Diwali, the festival of lights in India some 26 years ago! I saw bangles being made in the streets of old Jaipur city on a street called “chudion ka rastha”. Literally translated means “street of bangles” where all the lac bangle makers sit in a row over hot flames crafting these lovely adornments. In the night when fireworks were resplendent, all the lac studded with mirrors reflected the light and were splendorous!

I thought why not expand this technique to other everyday used items and make life more colorful? From the bangles, an idea evolved from “ Designs by Sudha” of lac pocket mirrors reflecting the festival of lights, trinket boxes to hold your do-dads, mini frames for the dresser, lacquer handcrafted votives which had replaceable wax to make it more sustainable, lac ball ornaments for Christmas which were glitzy, lacquer pens with replaceable ink refills.

All these pieces in my handicraft collection have become sustainable, timeless treasures of art.