Cultural Continuance

In the Business of Preservation
Crafted in Kathmandu represents the heart of Nepal’s vivacity in artistry and drive to honor its dynamic cultural history. The company applies sincerity in their goal to share the skill and tradition of Nepal, and elevate the lives of the artisans behind the intricate handiwork. Ujjwal Shrestha, a longtime artisan in his own right, and representative for the company, answered a few interview questions for Hand/Eye Online:
HAND/EYE Magazine: What inspired your company to work with local artisans?
Ujjwal Shrestha: The local artisans follow their ancestor’s craftworks which are needed to perform our ritual and festival every month in our society. Their museum quality craftwork is what preventing our cities turning into archeological site today! Hence we are inspired to keep them alive who give  life to our cities.
H/E: What kind of long-term changes do you hope your project has on both the local and international community?
US: When our country open to outside world in early 1950s, artisan families lost their local sponsors who no longer found handmade goods attractive to support in front of cheaper machine craftwork imported from outside world. But we as company find that the skillful hands of these artisans do have place in the world market. To support their ancient knowledge, we are on the process of creating a city known as “Nepal Art Village” where these artisan families will have a place to show and live with their unique craftsmanship- big or small. The International community can then observe them closely at this place.
H/E: What would you like to share about the process behind these products?
US: The process of jewelry making in Nepal is basically “handmade” handed down as family tradition since ancient times where each item is fabricated from raw metal by using tools that are controlled by hands. Nepali craftsman knew all the intricate process of casting, hammering, chiseling, filing, sawing and carving as a community trade secret not as an individual. 
For the NY NOW and Artisan Resource exhibition, we have chosen to bring jewelry basically created by filigree art. The basic technical process involves twisting thin silver thread into intricate lace like patterns. The fine wire pieces are then soldered together to make unique item with or without gemstone as design requires.
The first step in process of making filigree jewelry is to make a design in paper. Then silver ingots are melted in medium heat on a small stove and poured into a mould to make rods. These rods are inserted into manual wire drawing machine with tiny aperture to form fine quality silver strands. The artist then takes immense care of thin strands of silver to fill the outline frame of the design. With great precision, the joins are fused together with soldering process from breaking down. At the end stage, the product is polished to give a final touch.
The process of making pashmina, like jewelry making is also handmade in Nepal since ancient times. Each spring, wool from special breed of goat, indigenous to high altitude of the Himalaya is collected. The yarn is then spun in a spinning wheel by hand. Then the weaving process begins in a handloom where a shuttle carries the soft pashmina yarn through the fine yet strong silk warp. The weaving process itself is a special family traditional craft. Our pashmina shawls, scarves and throws are made from jacquard loom with jaguri silk, wool and cotton to bring forth various patterns by our weavers.
We also add fringes to our product which is a delicate process taking hours of perfection. Coloring process is done by hand using vegetable dye boiling in warm water for an hour to bring forth the desired texture. The whole process of pashmina making is artistic and time consuming while it’s painstaking as well which needs skill crafts people for quality end result.
Crafted in Kathmandu’s line of luxe pashminas and filigreed jewelry will be exhibited for potential buyers at NY NOW’s Artisan Resource August 12-15 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. 
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