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