Indian couples “Sanjhi,” an old Indian paper cutting art, is how Ram Soni placing food on the table, based on natural motifs. It is also a carefully maintained skill that has been passed on in his family for generations.
He patiently carves complicated pieces of folded paper using special scissors given to him by his parents who have taught him the art at an early age to create complex stencils that stand out from a contrasting colored painting.
The sales for Soni dropped to zero as India locked down to try to contain the pandemic from coronavirus earlier this year.
The 49-year-old Soni, just like craftsman New Delhi-based designer Sheela Lunkad and her husband, Architect Rajeev Lunkad, aim at helping craftsmen to create an online platform for cooperation, exhibition, and marketing of their works with “Shilp se Swavlamban,” or “Empowerment through craftsmanship.”
The Lunkads established a company named Direct Create in 2015 to reduce the price of traditional Indian crafts by linking craftsmen to shoppers, intermediaries, and swanky retailers.
Most craftsmen live in vast areas of Indian territory. Many had no way of reaching clients with markets and exhibitions closed by the pandemic. You can now register to display your work on the Direct Platform. You can also work together on custom design products for your customers.
More than 2,500 artisans now work on the new online platform.
“We were able to provide a lot of marketing and discovery to them because of our direct cremation,” said Sheela. “People reached out to them to ask for different things that they loved and enjoyed during this time.”
Collaboration is likely to lead to cultural fusions such as a traditional colorful Rajasthani narrative box or ‘Kavad,’ which depicts a Romanian folk story ordered by local craftsmen for a teacher and a German narrator.
Direct creation does not benefit from its sales on its platform, although 4-5% of the revenues from each sale go for packaging, shipping, and providing online payment gates for professionals who do not usually arrange online payments.
Soni, who first had to dismiss all his workers and even thought about giving up his art, has been the way of life for the paper Indian couples cutting artisan. He now listed his workshop on his online platform and said that it helped him work on a joint design project.
Soni, whose work won him a national award and recognition from the UNESCO, said, “Direct Create’s thought is very good for new artists,” “We get money, but we gain respect too.”
The specialist of “Mata ni pachedi,” the Sanjays Chitara, says Direct Creation has helped him re-launch his business after the pandemic shutdown. The block and the pieces of cloth painted by his hand usually portray stories of the Hindu gods and goddesses Indian couples.
“After my website work began to be displayed on, many of my former customers could view my work,” Chitara said, living in the western state of Gujarat. “It’s good because customers contact artists directly if they like our work.”
The initiative also benefits indirectly.
A shift into online shopping to limit possible coronavirus exposure has made it more curious and attentive to the purchases and to the sustainability of these products, said Sheela.
“Market was inundated by industrial products,” she said. “The pandemic and the digital environment have now permitted people to view products on their desktops and phones. Today, you can make a good choice. “Is it from Amazon or a few others I buy that industrial product, or do I want to collect small interesting things that actually change craftsmen and their livelihoods? ’”