Paper Mache

Paper Mache Handicraft In Delhi

Often, when you think of Kashmir handicrafts, the first thing that comes to your mind is the pashmina shawls, carpets, embroidery, and woodwork. However, what you probably don’t know is that Kashmir is also popular for its Papier Mache handicrafts. You can easily buy Kashmiri Papier Mache in Delhi as showpieces to decorate your house. But before diving into that, let’s understand the following:

  • What is papier mache?
  • How do artists make it?
  • Why should you buy it?

What are Papier Mache Handicrafts?

‘Paper mache’ is a French term that literally means ‘chewed paper’. The paper mache handicrafts involve the transformation of paper pulp into detailed decorated artifacts. These include paper mache bowls, boxes, Easter eggs, bells, elephant models, jewellery boxes and other handy objects.

This art originated in China hundreds of years ago. But, it was introduced in India in Kashmir by Sayyid Ali Hamadani, who arrived from Persia with skilled artisans in the 14th century. Those craftsmen then taught the art of creating paper mache to the Kashmiri locals. With time, the locals became experts. They started coming up with their own variations and innovative designs attracting a lot of attention from across the globe. 

The original name of this art was Iranian. People in Kashmir commonly referred to it as “Kar-i-Qalamdani.” The word ‘Qalamdani’ means a pen case. Initially, the artists were allowed to only craft pen cases using this technique. But, with the passing years, the art of paper mache has tremendously grown in the valley, and there is a wide variety of items available today.

How do Artists Make Paper Mache Objects?

There is a two-step process of making papier-mache objects, namely Sakhtsazi and Naqashi. Let’s read in a bit more detail about the two.

Sakht Sazi 

The first step is to prepare a paper pulp by beating the mixture of paper, cloth, rice plant straw, and copper sulfate. This paper pulp mixture is then combined with a local rice-based glue called Atij. The Sakht Saz applies it onto the molds made of brass, wood, or Plaster of Paris and leaves it to dry in the sun. Later, they carefully detach the artwork from the mold using a saw and then rejoin it using dense glue. 

Furthermore, they smoothen out the sealed joint by rubbing it slowly with a file made of wood known locally as ‘kathwa.’ As a result, the object that forms by combining the two halves is called Kalib. Next, the women folk handle the ‘Kalibs’ to process it further. 

Once the object is finely smooth, the women then apply a light coat of Sresh (Lacquer) on it, followed by a second coat consisting of Saresh mixed with chalk powder and water. After they finish the coating, they leave the Kalib to dry. As soon as the object dries, the women start rubbing along its surface with Kirkut. Moreover, they move to the fourth coat that is rubbing it with bare hands. Once the process is complete, the object is then handed over to the Naqash. 


This is the step where the object actually turns into a paper mache handicraft. The Naqash, on receiving the object, first covers it with thin sheets of butter paper. The butter paper acts as a barrier between the main object and the paintwork. This prevents the object from cracking. After covering with butter paper, the naqash applies a thin coat of paint all over the artwork. This complicated work usually takes 3 days to a week. 

Furthermore, they first free-handedly draw the design on the object. Once the drawing is complete, they move to paint it. The designers use different motifs like flowers, fruits, birds, creepers, etc., to make it look attractive. 

Mostly, the designers use metallic paints for an illuminated effect. Once the painting is over, they often use gold or silver to highlight the design. The colors used for painting are mostly all organic or vegetable-based. When the whole painting procedure is complete, the final step is to cover the artwork with a layer of varnish for shine.

Making papier-mache in Delhi requires a lot of patience, attention, precision, and hard work. However, the end results are always absolutely stunning and definitely worth it. 

What Are Some Popular Paper Mache Motifs?

There are several motifs that designers use on a paper mache handicraft in Delhi. Here are some of the most popular motifs that they often paint on Kashmiri papier mache in Delhi:

  • Flowers within flowers
  • Design inspiration from the Mughal Era
  • Floral patterns 
  • Hazara (thousand flowers pattern)
  • Jungle and scenery
  • Birds
  • The Chinar tree of Kashmir
  • Almond designs
  • Geometric shapes or a design curated from a combination of geometric shapes.

Why Should You Buy Paper Mache Handicrafts?

Love decorating your home with handmade items or collecting different types of handicrafts? Then paper mache is definitely something you should add to your collection. All the paper mache items, be it a box or a lamp, are made with immense love. It is a result of years of practice and patience. Hence, every piece you look at is unique and leaves you in awe. 

If our master artisans can thrive and dedicate their lives to keeping this old art alive, why not help them by simply purchasing the Kashmiri papier mache in Delhi. The best part? They promote not only art but also sustainability and luxury at the same time. Since all the products are crafted using waste paper and glue, the process is pollution-free and gives a new life to waste paper. 

Moreover, even after the effort that goes into making a paper mache handicraft, it is not very expensive. You can easily get them for different corners of your house and decorate them while adding a touch of luxury without spending too much on these handmade products. Also, these are perfect for gifting purposes. 


After reading this blog, if you’re searching for a ‘paper mache shop near me’ on Google, you can easily buy Kashmiri papier mache in Delhi from Magic Craft. They have been in the market for the last 29 years, and for the previous three decades, they’ve been a one-stop-shop for Kashmiri handicrafts products in Delhi. Their products are the confluence of Ancient Kashmiri aesthetics and modern luxury. 

Recently, they launched an online store that brings you the convenience of hassle-free shopping anytime, anywhere: online, in-store, and on social media. They have it all, from Kashmiri carpets to shawls to scarfs and paper mache. So why wait and search for a paper mache shop near me’ on Google? Order a paper mache handicraft in Delhi from Magic Craft to add life to the favorite corners of your humble abode.