Recycling, Upcycling, Experimenting, Exploring & Creating are some of my favorite action words. The essence of all these words is well captured in the wonderful world of HANDICRAFTS.
India–the land of diversity–is known the world over for the skill of creating unique handmade products. And for a traveler like me, a drive about a couple of hundred kilometers takes me to a new world that is an amalgamation of a new culture, taste, fragrance and art.
A Trip to Udaipur
My last furlough off work took me to discover the mysterious land of Udaipur, Rajasthan – the city of lakes, royalty, exquisite forts & palaces, bright colors, delightful choorma, kachori, and 16th-century art.
Walking through the narrow lanes of the city’s market, I could feel myself in another world that was all brightened up with spice colors and aromas, hand-painted vases, enamel plates, meenakari/stone work crafts and a lot more.
A Handmade Journals’ Store
Call me a romantic, but I believe in chance-discoveries: Serendipities. And one such discovery was this cozy and colorful store displaying an amazing collection of handmade journals of almost every color, size, design and style. Be it the pure leather or silk sari, every kind of material was used to create journal covers.
Journals a plenty – Stacked and ready for sale…
The Master Journal Artist
There I met the master artist of the journal store, who was carefully binding papers to an embroidered silk fabric cover. Intrigued, I wanted to understand the process and his calling. I observed him while he was carefully binding the journal and he was gracious enough to spare some time to help me know more about his art and passion.
This journal artisan, who had the skill of bringing life to any lifeless piece, told me that he had always been fond of stationery. The passion of reusing any waste fabric to bind papers together gradually translated into a profession. And today he is sharing the essence of Rajasthan, its art and customs in vibrant colors with the whole world through the sari and leather journals he creates.
Tree-Free, Eco-Friendly Paper
The best part is that in more than 90% of the journals he uses tree-free paper, which is created from garment waste, rags or used papers. These papers are eco-friendly and relatively cheaper.
Freshly made tree-free paper before it goes for cutting to desired journal sizes
The artist says:
“I pick up immaculate, recycled sari fabric from different parts of the country and try to bring the best out of them. If the fabric is simple and plain, I have a team of creative people who hand-paint or do embroidery on it bringing out the best of Rajasthan, or if the fabrics are already very rich, I simply use them like that.”
He further shares the tricks of his trade:
“To create a sari journal, I take a cardboard and paste the fabric all over, leaving it to dry for at least a day or two. In the meantime, I trim the handmade papers a little shorter in size as compared to the size of the journal cover. Once the cover is all dry, I place the papers inside the cover and fold it into two. The fold is pressed tightly to bring the fineness to the piece. Then the sheets are bound to the cardboard cover with a thick and a rich thread, which complements the overall look of the journal.”
The process for creating leather journals is mostly similar except that cardboard is usually not required to reinforce the leather covers, and in addition to the ones with thread, and strap closures, some of these carry a vintage-look brass metal latch that gives them that classic, antique look.
And they are also made in the famous “Pink City” of Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan…
Hawa Mahal – The famous palace of winds in Jaipur
…and the land of snake charmers…
Snake charmers in Jaipur
One astonishing fact about journal artisans’ work is that each one of their creation is unique and different. They welcome thousands of tourists a day and every tourist is acknowledged with an exclusive design. And my take away from Udaipur is this classic sari journal (and it’s a gift):
With my gift from Udaipur…
Sharing the Art
Presently, SouvNear is associated with such talented journal-making artisans from Udaipur and Jaipur, and together we share their art with journal-lovers around the world, who like to carry the flavor of Rajasthan in their hands. You can purchase these journals in wholesale on SouvNear to sell in your own shop and spread more happiness around.
And I must add that I have not seen many places that can match the spectacular beauty of Udaipur by night…
I will wrap this up with some kind words of appreciation for these journals from Phil Johnson, our regular customer. (Thanks, Phil!):
As the buyer for the University of Pittsburgh’s Nationality Rooms Gift Center, I am constantly on the lookout for handmade, quality gifts for our customers. Having a popular attraction in the Indian Nationality Room, and our large Indian population at the University, I found SouvNear’s Leather and Silk Journals to be a quality and affordable addition to our merchandise assortment. The quality of workmanship is quite remarkable, at a reasonable price! The Customer Service Team has also been very helpful in resolving any issues in a quick and efficient manner! Thanks!
Nationality Rooms, University of Pittsburgh