Reinventing Traditional Paper Craft ‘Sanjhi’ With a Modern Twist: Pooja Ajmera [DOER]

Four years ago, Pooja Ajmera left her job to rediscover her passion for arts and crafts. A simple problem, rekindled her desire to go back to what gave her a lot of satisfaction.

“When I made my first papercut, the entire process of drawing, design and then cutting it to see the final design emerging out of single black sheet fascinated me a lot,” says the 28 year old, who is trying to revive the ancient Indian craft called Sanjhi.

Pooja AjmeraThe traditional paper-cutting artform of India, has its origins in the region of Braj in Uttar Pradesh. It is now being revived by a various artists from around the country.

“Sanjhi is an art form which is not practiced by many and hence it is dying. Very few people actually recognise it, as there is no awareness and popularity given to this art,” she says.

Designs are created on paper by hand cutting or stencil cutting and traditionally had themes taken from stories of the hindu deity Lord Krishna.

Back in 2010 Pooja started a Facebook page called Mad About Craft, where she used to post different article and tutorials for making things using different crafts.

During this journey she kept visiting a lot of art blogs and came across Sanjhi and other forms of paper-cutting art forms from around the world.

In the olden days these paper-cutting were used as stencils to create decorations like Rangoli during the festive seasons. The Sanjhi design was laid down and filled with colours to imprint the designs on the surface.

For her sister-in-law’s birthday, she was undecided and was wondering what would make a perfect gift. That is when paper-cutting crossed her mind and she decided to make one as a gift.

“The framed art piece that I gifted my sis-in-law hangs on her wall now. When she saw it, she was so inquisitive as to how I made it and people get so amazed seeing such pretty thing can be made from paper,” she says.

Papercut BudhaThe gift was well appreciated and soon, a new venture Teekhii Chhurii was born. The self funded venture specialises in papercut artworks with a modern twists “Everyone around me realised it took lots of efforts but at the same time, it is something which is very unique and beautiful.”

Her clients contact her directly, following which ideas and plans are shared leading to a concept design. Once the design is finalised upon, she starts off cutting specialised tools which include a variety of sharp surgical scalpel like blades. She uses acid free archival paper as the medium, “Regular paper is usually treated with acid and starts to discolour and get a yellowish tinge over time. Acid free archival paper will retain the clean color for years together without any problem.”

Once the work is completed she mounts it on a frame before handing it over. A piece that takes about 2-3 hours of work will cost about Rs 1500, including the framing cost. The prices mainly depend on the effort required and the intricacy of the design involved. “Other than just plain skill,the art requires a lot of patience, concentration and attention to detail,” she says.

Not every entrepreneur is creating a billion dollar company or solving grand challenges. A lot of times, entrepreneurship is about soul, passion and the fun of it.


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