Kashmir Papier Mache
The papier-mâché of Kashmir is a popular handicraft item. Even though all the paper-maches of Kashmir look similar at first glance, they command different prices. The price depends upon the type and the quality of the product. There are no less than three different qualities of papier-mache, each having a distinct value. The procedure of making paper-mache is quite complex. The first step is to soak papier-mache in water till the time it starts disintegrating. After that, pounding of the papier-mache is followed by addition of an adhesive solution to it. Then, the blend is shaped over moulds and allowed to dry and set. The last step in the process is printing and varnishing of the papier-mache.
If the papier-mache is not thoroughly pounded, a smooth finish will not come through. Kashmiri Papier-mache products are painted with brightly colored designs. The products can be easily differentiated on the basis of the creativity and skill of the craftsmen as well as the choice of the colors used. Papier-mache objects make extensive use of Gold. Either the whole of the design is painted in gold or certain motifs are highlighted with the color. The quality of the gold used is another determinant of the value of the product. Papier-mache products with pure gold leaf are costlier than bronze dust or gold poster paint.
There are numerous papier-mache products available in Kashmir, right from the highly expensive ones to the quite cheaper ones. Amongst the cheaper options are eggcups, candle stands, pen stands, kumkum boxes, cigarette boxes, etc. These products make use of poster paint. On the other hand are much expensive vases, bowls, trays and a number of other products. Painted by expert artisans, they make use of the real gold leaf. It can be concluded that what determines the value of a papier-mache product is the skill of the artisan and the type of gold used.