Rajasthan Trip – Week 1

Day 4. Today we visited a few different companies to see what the textile and craft industry is like in Jaipur and how they deal with product demand.  First of all we headed to a handmade paper company called Elepathy a growing company ran by Vijendra Shekhawat and his family, who use Elephant dung to make 100% recycled paper that is disturbed to different companies. It was just great to see how they can start up a business in a moderate sided lock up in the middle of a small village, but make it work so well. I’m looking forward to following the companies progress in the next few years by, following them on there Facebook page and website. IMG_1264.JPG

The second place we visited with the Blue Pottery Factory, which is on the last of it’s kinds using a centuries old pottery clay mix. The man that gave us the demonstration is an ex lecturer who gave up teaching to focus on keeping the traditional methods alive. The demonstration that was given to us was very insightful and really showed the lengthy process that goes into each piece of pottery and tile made. From initially mixing up the clay to making each piece, to the firing, then applying the design and many layers of natural paint and gloss. They company also block prints fabrics that are then made into a wide variety of products at the factory shop down the road. Visiting the shop after our talk was very interesting, as it gave us the opportunity to buy handmade products that we know were made down the road, but also to see the cost of each product. Seeing the reasonable prices in the shop, just made me think of how low the export/labour costs must be.

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Before lunch we then fitted in a quick trip to Salim’s Paper, a family owned company that produces handmade paper & board industries. The quick tour around the factory was so insightful and showed the making process step by step. From the first room where they cotton and off cuts of paper are made in to a pulp by machine before being then made into sheets of paper in pairs. We then got to see where the sheets are hung before then moving into the room were the sheets are finally pressed and stored. It was interesting to see how the company have modernised certain areas of the process to meet demand and how some aspects are still done by hand. We even got to see the workers who were mainly women actually  use the paper to create a range of products from gift boxes to gift bags.

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After lunch, our final stop was to a see a jewellery making demonstration, which was fascinating to see. As when we arrived we were on the shop floor and then we walked down a flight of stairs and suddenly we were in the workshop where all of the products are made. We got to see the process where they polish and cut the stones from there natural form, to seeing where the designs are drawn up to then being allowed to walk around the workshop were the crafts men were working on high end pieces of jewellery. Below shows a photo of a piece that I was particularly fond of and was just so impressed by. The time that must have gone into it at this point in the process is just unbelievable and the bracelet still needed all of the precious stones to be set. IMG_2787.jpg

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