The Taj Mahal, a Wonder of the World (and rightly so), is full to the brim of fantastically detailed work by local craftspeople. One of the crafts, which is kept alive today is stone-inlay work. The sought-after craftspeople spend every Friday working on the Taj itself (as sadly, many visitors still like to steal “souvenir” stones from the building), and the rest of the week they produce pieces for the home, which they sell for a living.
It is a time-consuming and sometimes dangerous craft. Each stone must be filed so precisely that fingers are often injured! The design is marked onto the marble and carved out, the stones are cut to shape, then carefully positioned into each indent. The finished pieces are fine, and particular stones will also allow light through – allowing them to be used as light fittings.
Stone inlay work on the Taj Mahal
Marking and carving the marble
Filing and fitting pieces
As a designer and crafter, it is important to keep up to date with trends. Visiting Textrends in Delhi gave me an insight into the upcoming textile trends in fashion and for the home. Looking at these items from a design perspective (rather than with a “shopping head” on) can provide lots of ideas for craft projects. I kept an eye out for the types of print designs that were popular, as well as colours, materials and accessories. I particularly loved the beaded handbags, with exquisite detailing, which Indian textiles are renowned for.
For those of us without bottomless pockets, detailing is a great way to update a tired-looking item and give it a new lease of life. Like our DIY studded bag, for example. Have a look at our embellishment and stamp workshops, and let us know if you’d like to bring something along!
Having a look at upcoming dress material trends
Attending the exhibition!
Lots of highly adorned bags on offer
Lanterns are functional and decorative, and are found everywhere in Vietnam, especially around the Chinese New Year.
I learnt how to add the final fabric elements to the lantern frame – which is usually made by one local supplier. I chose a turquoise silk, which is vivid in colour, but still allows plenty of light through. This craft requires plenty of patience, but the reward is a very pretty item for the home.
Why not try making your own lanterns? The traditional frames are very hard to come by, but there is always a creative alternative – Decorated paper cups over fairy lights, tissue paper on a card frame… the only limit is your imagination!
A tree full of lanterns
Work in progress
As Makery Mill’s resident designer, and an Industrial Designer by trade, drawing is something I do often for work, and have enjoyed from a young age. I was thrilled to have a lesson with a local artist in Hoi An, Vietnam, who taught me lots of brush techniques in order to produce a beautiful painting of a traditional Vietnamese scene – a house boat floating in the night.
A brush with boar hair bristles is used, along with Chinese ink. Using a textured card and adding my own artist’s mark to the painting resulted in a very special keepsake, and a lovely reminder of my visit.
Carefully painting the final version onto card
Pottery is another craft which has been around for thousands of years. It is used for practical items, but is also an art, where the potter can put his or her personality into every item they make. There is something so satisfying about using your hands to make something, which all you crafty people will know well, but that feeling seems even more exaggerated when you are working with clay.
This small village, just outside the small town of Hoi An, was centred around pottery – everyone was involved in the process, and every space was used for the trade. This lady let me have a go on their hand-spun wheel, and I think what I produced wasn’t too bad!
Shaping the vase on the potter’s wheel
Left out to dry before firing
Getting the air out of the clay