Reinventing the Polish craft ‘Pajaki’

Karolina (first row, fourth from left ) with participants at the Pajaki workshop.

The second day of the first edition of Bengaluru ByDesign (BBD) saw Karolina Merska, a contemporary designer and an artist from London, teaching the traditional Polish craft called ‘Pajaki’ (paper chandeliers) in a workshop at WeWork Galaxy, Residency Road.

Karolina gives her own twist to the traditional design to reinvent and contemporise the craft. “The two most important materials to make Pajaki are rye straw and paper. It is a time-consuming craft and takes about six hours to complete, especially the pompoms. They are made using 50 layers of tissue papers. My idea is to make this dying craft familiar to as many people as possible.”

In a quick chat with Surupasree Sarmmah, Karolina gives a glimpse of what got her interested in this craft, her love for curries, and the colourful streets of Bengaluru.

How did you get interested in reviving ‘Pajaki’?

I have always been interested in Polish folk art. ‘Pajaki’, being a dying craft in Poland, I wanted to revive it, so I started making them around three years ago, since then it has become popular. I run workshops in my studio and a few countries like Poland and India.

Is there any experience that contributed to what you are doing today?

I moved to London from Poland, but I was always promoting Polish craft; it became a part of my life. I always thought ‘Pajaki’ is a beautiful craft, but I never had the time to work extensively towards it. It actually took me many years to start, and now I know that this is what I want to do.

What does your work aim to say?

I do large installations based on the tradition, and I never keep my designs same. I always want to
do something new, for example, using new materials, techniques and experiment with them. I also try to incorporate elements specific to a place and its culture. For example, since I am in India, I have used fresh flowers instead of paper flowers for the installation in UB City for BBD, so even when it dries out, the flowers will signify the passing of time.

Your thoughts about BBD...

It is an amazing platform that brings people from different
creative fields under one roof. One can take this as an opportunity to seek inspiration and build contacts for future collaboration.

Is this your first time in India?

Yes, this is my first time, and I must say, I love it. It looks so different from where I live. I did expect that India will amaze me through her colours, textures and the relaxed way of life.​

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