Studio Tour: Craft Boat

by Rohini Wahi

Like many other craft items linked to my childhood, I’ve always had a curious relationship with stationery from India. Block-printed notepads, embellished cards and hand-sewn mini calendars I received on special occasions would always have a remarkable texture, the pages would be tinted in creamy hues, and I always discarded them as difficult to draw and write on. As time went on, I grew to appreciate these handmade, naturally-dyed or not-dyed beauties made with recycled paper, studded with glorious imperfections, and a sense of permanence that regular paper just didn’t possess.

Now that I’m doing most of my “writing” on my laptop and making notes online, I haven’t really had the need to pay attention to these items in a long time. That is, until I stumbled across Craft Boat, a Jaipur-based handmade paper goods company reusing cotton fabric waste from the garment industry to make stationery and home goods. Their stunning designs reuse traditional techniques like marbling and block-printing but in vivid, contemporary colors.

This brand is run by the sweet and whimsical Priti Pugalia, who has a background in fashion design and, most fascinatingly, an internship program with a sustainable design studio in Auroville — a unique community in Pondicherry dedicated to universal learning.

Priti founded Craft Boat in 2014 while working in the fashion industry and was inspired by visiting a handmade paper-making unit. The idea of working with paper appealed to her because of the immediate aesthetic satisfaction and the many possibilities that are derived from making paper to developing products out of it.

As a small team of three, two team members help with production, managing the stock, and packaging. This leaves Priti to focus on research, development and design explorations with collections inspired by sustainable design and experiments in pattern making.

The ever-inspiring Priti describes her day as beginning with, “A cup of tea, yoga and [attempting] to learn how to play flute. And then it’s dreaming all day in between paper, people and about places I want to put handmade paper goods.” Rohini

Craft Boat Studio Visit on Design Sponge
Priti Pugalia in her studio in Jaipur. Stacks of handmade paper, her daily experiments with structures, and prints surround her. A raw space, partially constructed and aloof from the city, it is close to the city airport with airplanes taking off and landing every second hour -- tempting Priti to travel, but instead only inspiring her to make her own paper planes.
Craft Boat Studio Visit on Design Sponge
Recycled handmade notebooks.
Craft Boat Studio on Design Sponge
An early morning view for Priti of Amer Fort in Jaipur, "a beautiful inspiration tucked all the time in my pocket."
Craft Boat Studio on Design Sponge
Marbling paper on book covers. Shades and textures from the ocean and the soil.
Craft Boat Studio Visit on Design Sponge
Paper makers compressing paper pulp into sheets of papers.
Craft Boat Studio Visit on Design Sponge
Paper makers carrying the stack of paper for drying
Craft Boat Studio on Design Sponge
Marbling tricks – precisely painted color details on handmade marble paper notebook cover and paper edges.
At the paper marbling unit. This is where the studio marbles patterns on fabric and handmade paper. This craft is mostly learned and practiced by ladies from Muslim families -- the master craftsperson has primarily learned the craft of marbling from experiments and online videos. The studio is currently working on marbling patterns inspired by the colors of gemstones.
Craft Boat Studio Visit on Design Sponge
Textures and notebook covers in the making.
Craft Boat Studio Visit on Design Sponge
Priti printing on handmade paper at the block-printing workshop.
Craft Boat Studio Visit on Design Sponge
Hot pink printed and recycled notebooks, wine bottle cases and storage boxes.
Craft Boat on Design Sponge
A collaboration with Korra, an Indian denim brand. Denim scraps were processed into handmade denim paper and screenprinted by Craft Boat Studio for their branding and packaging.
Craft Boat Studio Visit on Design Sponge
Handmade papers stacked together for edge trimming and final packing.
Craft Boat Studio on Design Sponge
Hands at work folding the envelopes.
Craft Boat Studio on Design Sponge
Pre-stitched, four-page marbled note cards.
Craft Boat Studio Visit on Design Sponge
A sustainable gift box project called "On The Cutting Table," in collaboration with clothing brand Meeraki -- an initiative to use every little bit of textile and not tag it as waste or leftovers. The box includes fabric and paper magnets, greeting cards, gift boxes, gift tags and notebooks.

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    • Thank You Jenny, We are working on stocking with a few stores in US. Should launch the online shop too very soon.

  • Absolutely beautiful – I love seeing your hand-made, hand colored paper, used in such a beautiful and simple way. Are any of the boxes, tags or notebooks for sale to US customers?

    • Dear Pat, Thank you :) I am currently in talks and looking to collaborate with a few stores US to stock Craft Boat handmade paper products. In case you would like to purchase anything from Craft Boat’s facebook page, please feel free to comment on the image of the product. I can always ship them to you.


  • Another fantastic article – THANK YOU Rohini!

    What an exciting collaboration between traditional ‘old world’ skills and sustainable contemporary design.


  • Lovely paper and article! Can’t wait for the online store to open. Priti, do you have acid-free paper suitable for fine art painting? Thank you!

  • HI, this is absolutely beautiful. Where can I place bulk orders – please email me information. Thank you!