The traditional method of making Paper Mache (Papier mache) starts with waste paper which is soaked in water for several days until it disintegrates. The excess water is drained and the soaked waste paper, cloth, rice straw and copper soleplate are mixed to form a pulp. This mixture is placed in a mold and left to dry for two to three more days. On the drying of pulp, the shape is cut away from the mold in two halves and then glued again. The surface is coated with the layer of glue and gypsum, rubbed smooth with a stone or baked piece of clay and pasted with layers of tissue paper. A base color is painted on, and a design is added free hand .The object is then sandpapered or burnished and is finally painted with several coats of lacquer.
Paper Mache (Papier mache) is a delicate decorative art. This art of Papier-mâché was born in Persia, a land known for bringing such rich culture and heritage to the world.
The ingenious Paper Mache artisans of the State of Jammu & Kashmir, India transform a variety of utility articles into rare art pieces. The creation of a Paper Mache object can be divided into two distinct categories, the sakhtsazi (making the object) and the naqashi (painting the surface). The final product is a beautiful art work that cannot be called a creation of one artist. It travels many pairs of talented hands before reaching a table or a mantel. Above all other talents, the aesthetic sensibility and hereditary skills are most essential in these craftsmen.
Passed down from generation to generation, son taking the place of his father and father taking place of his father this art has been handed down from family to family. Kashmiri craftsman have tried to maintain the culture of Paper Mache and to this day it is still being made by hand in these small home shops where families gather together and work on it and bring these beautiful creations to the world. But with the age of technology and fast paced economies, the art of Paper Mache has shown signs of decline. The new generation of people are as worldly and knowledgably as the rest of their peers and have not shown the inclination to preserve this art. However, as with anything else there is new awareness among the people that his art needs to be preserved and brought out to the world to see and admire.