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Craft Extraordinaire

The recently concluded 32nd Trade Fair will have a lot to boast about. Apart from displaying the exotic beauty of 32 states and union territories, the fortnight long fair gave an opportunity to award-winning master craftsmen also to showcase their innovative crafts under one roof.

Starting from Jammu Kashmir, down to Kerala and from North-East to Gujarat, the diversity in Indian handicrafts was on display by craftsmen who have won national awards for their intricate and beautiful craft work.

The Indian Handicrafts pavilion was amongst those few exhibition areas which left visitors awestruck. Niyaz Ahmed Bhatt, who has been practicing the art of papier mache since the last 25 years, appreciates the government’s initiative to bring award winning craftsmen together.

Papier mache, the artist explained, is made by soaking paper pulp for about 20 days. “It is then placed in a stone container and repeatedly pounded with a stick. Thereafter, lime is mixed with glue to make the pulp surface smooth.” The traditional designs in papier mache products used to be inspired by ‘chinar’ leaves, but now other designs - like the face of Gautam Buddha, Santa Claus are also being painted on boxes, pen stands and pencil boxes.

Master craftspersons who works with cane and bamboo, Vivekanand Bagchi has won the national award in 2010. Bagchi’s handmade products like candle stands; baskets, and plastic bottles covered with cane leaves have always been in high demand internationally. “At the fair we displayed our collection in its entirety to attract foreign buyers. So far, candle stands made out of cane have been in demand. Decorative items like tribal huts, small baskets and wall hangings were preferred by general visitors.”

For Sheikh Abdul Salim, an artist of Kantha work, attracting foreign buyers was no big deal. After giving live demonstration of his embroidery skills in Germany and Australia in 2011, Abdul Salim was satisfied with the response he received at IITF. “Kantha stitch is about 300 years old. The designer motifs are filled with colourful running stitches on cotton, tussar and silk fabrics. These days it is popular all across the globe as it is being widely used in sarees, dress materials, shawls and on bedcovers too,” says Salim.

The beautiful wood inlay work by Omkar Dhawan, which has been praised by UNESCO, German, French and Australian embassies was also on display. The wooden inlay artwork was seen on teapots, mirrors, tables, bowls and cigarette cases. Chandrakant Bundelwal of Odisha displayed his award-winning creations in jewellery made from almond shells.
Meanwhile, the exquisite handicrafts also included Bidri ware from Karnataka; glass vases from Firozabad and metal craft from Moradabad.

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