The designer doesn’t begin with some preconceived ideas. Rather the idea is the result of careful study and observation and the design is a product of that idea. Every design student follows the footsteps of the same story. So, when my college professors from the United World Institute of Design, Gujarat assigned me to learn traditional arts and crafts of India and make a project out of the same, I thought why not use this opportunity to explore the artforms from the UNESCO certified heritage city of India, Jaipur.
Founded in 1727, the Pink City, Jaipur is the crowned jewel of the desert state Rajasthan. Royalty and aesthetically pleasing are just some synonyms I would use. With my two friends and a small backpack, I marched my way to Jaipur through the train and thus began my 3 days of eventful explorations.
This city of palaces has a variety of food that can make you drool. For starters we had brunch at Tapri, their food is so satisfactory and worth every penny. Other than that we had a royal feast of Dal Baati Churma from one of the Dhabbas near our place. For dinner, we explored restaurants such as Anokhi Café, Oven Bakery, etc.
Being a shopaholic, I couldn’t resist the temptations of Oxidized earrings, Bandhej prints, Blue pottery, and Mojari in the streets of Bapu Bazaar and Chaura Rasta. Beautiful handmade diaries and block prints also became a part of our shopping cart as we explored the streets of Hawa Mahal.
Culture and Heritage
Before heading towards the city, I had made my mind and chose the Paper Mache art form for my experiments with the designing assignment. Researching on how and from where I could either attend a workshop or simply see the working of this form, I stumbled upon an enterprise on google called Rajasthan Studio. This startup aimed at connecting travelers with local artisans and it felt the right connect for me. I contacted them and they supervised my experience with Paper Mache Artist Rakesh Ji and his family.
Other than that, I also explored the famous Blue Pottery of Jaipur. I took back souvenirs from both the places.
Paper Mache Workshop and Rakesh Ji
Most of us have had the joy of creating some masterpiece through Paper Mache once in our life. So, choosing this form meant some instant connection and familiarity. Through the workshop by Rajasthan Studio, we got a chance to visit Rakesh Ji’s terrace turned studio. At his place, he was kind to take us through the entire process of how to make paper, how the grinding process takes place, and pulp is formed. The wooden structures for making paper were also elaborated by him.
As we took a tour of his house, we saw various beautiful creations by him like Krishna statue, pen-stands, decorative pieces, masks, etc. His humble soul and humane nature made the experience comfortable and worthwhile. As we shared more conversations over some refreshments, he also told us about his NGO works, heritage masks, and how much he loves teaching and mentoring young adults.
Three days and two nights in this city of heritage felt worthwhile and we traveled back to our institute with Paper Mache and Blue Pottery souvenirs, we carried back a part of the city with us. I guess as I look back the one impact that is still fresh would be the kind Mr. Rakesh Ji and his family.
With more love and inspiration to look forward to, I dream to travel and connect more with artisans. And so, I wonder would others too?
Also follow Rajasthan Studio on Instagram for more amazing art and travel content. Reach out to us on email at contact[at]rajasthanstudio[dot]com. This blog is curated and written by Rajasthan Studio.