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    A social enterprise helping craftspeople in area's affected by conflict and political insecurity, to regenerate their crafts, work with designers around the world and get their handcrafted products to international markets.







    (Scroll down to see our crafts)



    Papier Mache: The Craft of Kashmir


    Our first focus is in Kashmir, North India working with the most wonderful Papier Mache artisans. Our key focus here is; poverty alleviation, bringing purpose and sustainable livelihoods to communities in Kashmir, preserving the craft by teaming up with designers and international brands to foster design innovation to revive what is now a dying craft, and finally promotion, providing access to international markets and increase global awareness of Kashmiri Crafts, which historically was always reknowned for its crafts due to it’s location on the Silk Route of Central Asia. These are handcrafted pieces of art that are 100% sustainable and supporting some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.



    The craft and its populisation is associated with Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani of Iran. He is said to have come to Kashmir in 1383 with 700 craftsmen from Iran, who taught the local Kashmiris carpet making, woodwork, Papier Mache and most of the handicraft work that continues to be practised there till date.



  • Sakhta: The Framework

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    Who are the Craftspeople?

    Papier Mache craft making happens in two phases: one set of artists, the Sakhta who process the base material and prepare the frame work and structure; and the Naqashi artists who work on drawing the designs and polishing the craft. The Sakhtasazi and Naqashi artists work closely with each other but in separate workspaces.

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    Sakhta is a type of Papier Mache that involves moulding raw wastepaper pulp into objects.


    Kashmiri papier mache is unique for a variety of reasons; the key being that the paper pulp is reduced to a refined paste similar to plaster which allows it to be maluable and fashioned into complex and interesting shapes and designs, it has an incredibly polished and smooth finish similar to that of lacquer and the opportunities are endless in terms of the designs that can be hand painted onto the pieces.




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    The whole process involves working with simple hand tools and locally sourced raw materials which are waste paper and local rice glue. It has a very labour intensive production process called Sakhta, that requires repetitive consecutive stages of hand beating the paper pulp on top of a mould and drying it slowly in the sun.


    The result is a smooth surfaced, colourful artefact. Sadly, this ancient technique is at risk. With only about 40 artists still practising this craft.

  • Naqashi: Decoration

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    Once the base is fit for use, the object goes to the Naqashi artists who take over. It is coated with a mixture of chalk powder and a type of adhesive, and polished with a kiln-burnt brick.

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    This process is called gassayiee. Once the piece acquires the desired texture, a layer of tissues is glued to it to make it water-resistant and prevent it from developing cracks. It receives several rounds of gassayiee with sandpaper followed by three or four thick coats of colour.

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    As the paint dries up, various designs are draw on the Papier Mache item followed by a layer of varnish to lock the hues. Finally, after a round of finishing with a stone called Mehra, the item is ready to be sold.


    About Me

    I am a responsible sourcing consultant focussed on working with craft communities affected by conflict and political insecurity. By reviving their traditional crafts and connecting them to International Brands to create partnerships and design collaborations we can help to transform and empower many of these regions in the world.


    I believe that through partnership and collaboration, these craft communities can add so much value to International Brands, by not only creating a collection of high quality iconic pieces but also through bringing more depth and meaning to the brands narrative as well as it being a very powerful PR and marketing tool for the brand to access new customers and other international markets.


    From 2013 to 2017, I lived in Mumbai for 4 years, and during that time I spent much time travelling to Kashmir, where I made many strong connections with the region, craft and people. I was incredibly touched, moved and saddened by the political situation in Kashmir. There is so much potential with their traditional crafts but unfortunately over the last three decades Kashmir has been cut off from international markets and their crafts haven’t really been able to evolve with the changing market needs.


    It became clear over the last couple of years from speaking to local artisans and charities at length, that access to new designs and international markets were paramount. It seemed that the most impactful solution long term would be to create a design initiative that gave them access to those two things; Design Innovation and International Customers.


    Contact Me


    Harriet Jenner

    Email: harriet@internationalcraftinitiative.com

    Contact Number: +447877701233