2018

Woodcraft: High Quality Products Made With High Quality Craftmanship

Dastkari Haat Samiti

A blend of high quality and functionality

Blueprint, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
The creation of a wooden artefact is as beautiful a process as the craft itself. One of the striking features of the art of woodcraft is that not a single object goes through the same journey of creation. Every product chooses a different trajectory depending on its design, size, raw material and purpose. 
Book Cover, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Crafts people doing intricate carving on both decorative and utilitarian artefacts create their own designs, most of which are inspired by foliage and animal forms.

Wood workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The use of the machine is restricted to cutting of huge wood logs and other processes which otherwise require heavy or repetitive manual labour without any artistry.

Wood Carving, Asha Ram's Workshop, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

That the crafts person is a significant member of society is summed up beautifully in this image where the touch of a craftsman adds usefulness to a simple block of wood.

Wood Carving: Carving details on the box, Mohammed Matloob, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
The process of transforming wood into a wooden artefact
Wood Carving: At the village, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Procuring the raw materials
Crafts people have an innate understanding of the need to limit the use of natural resources which need time for re-growth. The Nagina wood work artisan ensures every bit of raw material is used and at times even discarded wood pieces like table tops, doors and windows that are often removed from old homes. Also, it is more economical for him to use a recycled wood for his work. 
Wood Carving: Sourcing unit, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Workers discuss matters of work at a wood depot near Qaziwala village in Bijnor. The unit offers different types of wood to craftsmen.

Wood logs, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Seasoned mango wood will be transformed into pieces of art in the hands of a skilled crafts person.

Wood workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

A display of tools commonly seen in a woodcrafter’s workshop.

Blueprint, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Design process 
After sourcing the wood, the pieces are cut depending on the design of the product. Designing the product requires two major aspects: (i) drawing the basic design and shaping the product (ii) creating a decorative pattern, adding to the charm of a product. This designing calls for gaining an understanding of symmetry, precision and proportion, along with a sense of aesthetics. To add an ornamental look, different techniques are followed from carving to inlaying. 
Wood Carving, Mohammed Matloob's workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Wood Carving
Wood carving further involves different design techniques like engraving, sculpting out of a wood block or making lattice patterns. To create any design, a basic geometrical pattern is drawn on a wooden object in order to bring symmetry. Later, depending on the design a particular carving technique is followed.   
Wood Carving, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Master craftsman Mohammed Matloob carving a wooden mirror frame for the Portugal Embassy, New Delhi.

A craftsman drawing a basic grid over which a symmetrical lattice design will be created.

Wood workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The geometric grid in the background gives an artist the liberty to create different designs with much precision.

Wood workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Over time, subtle changes have emerged in the process, with modern influences. For example, the pencil has been replaced by a ball pen with silver fluid, so that the pattern stands out.

Wood workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Mohammed Azeem, one of the apprentices to Mohammed Matloob, makes holes in a piece of wooden board with a drill machine to start carving out the jaali lattice design.

Wood carving, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

An artist makes a jaali lattice design showing the elements of Mughal architecture, which he has chosen for his work.

Wood Carving, Mohammed Matloob's workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

A detailed shot of an intricate wood carving design and jaali pattern.

Wood Carving: Filing a box with bone inlay work, Mohammed Matloob's workshop, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Inlay: wood, bone, metal 
Inlay is a technique where a design is traced and engraved on a piece of wood. A composition of different woods and materials (like bone, brass and copper) is placed in the engraved gaps. Originally, wood was inlaid with ivory and gold but today it has been replaced with pieces of other wood, acrylic, shell and bone. The final process involves multiple rounds of filing and polishing.
Wood Carving: Bone inlay, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Detail of bone inlay work being done by master craftsman Mohammed Matloob.

A design is first created and traced on a wooden surface. Next, pieces of bone are cut according to the design and fixed in the engravings on the wooden surface.

Wood Carving: Bone inlay, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Notice the very fine engravings on the wooden surface in which the cut bone pieces will be inlaid.

In the video you can see the master craftsman cutting a piece of bone into tiny pieces for inlay work.

Mohammed Matloob inlaying the cut bone pieces onto the surface of the wooden box, with precision.

Wood Carving: Workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The finished product; this bone inlaid box shows how Indian craftsmen rely on natural materials like wood and bone, which are all biodegradable.

Wood Carving: Filing a box with bone inlay work, Mohammed Matloob's workshop, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Repeated filing is done with a sandpaper to add to the smoothness of the surface. Details of the design are carved out to provide depth, followed by two more rounds of filing.

Wood Carving, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

In wire inlay, a design is first made on paper, which is stuck on a wooden block. An impression of that design is then carved on it.

Carving the wood through the artwork on the paper.

Wood Carving: Brass inlay, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

At times wire inlay is done on a thick wooden block so that it doesn’t break with the repeated strokes of hammer. Both sides are inlaid and then carefully sliced through the middle creating two pieces.

Wire inlay work in progress.

Wood carving, Mohammed Matloob's workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Joining, polishing and finishing the piece
Wood Carving: Making a wooden box, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

A craftsman applying fevicol at the two ends of a side of a wooden box.

Wood workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Mohammed Irfaan makes wooden frame fittings for a partition screen. The firmness of the entire structure relies on the exactness of mounds and depressions, for all the pieces to fit together and stay intact.

Wood Workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Mohammed Rizan makes brass fittings and clasps to add to the beauty of a carved box by cutting brass sheets with a wire saw.

Wood Carving: After carving and inlay work. the next step is filing the surfaces, Mohammed Matloob's workshop, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

A young apprentice, Mohammed Tanjeer, files the bone inlay box with sandpaper to smoothen its surface.

Wood workshop, 2018-04, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Mohammed Rizwan gives finishing touches to the mini beer barrel made of rosewood and brass inlay. The processes of finishing are divided into buffing and polishing.

Polishing a wooden artifact; a miniature beer barrel.

Wood Carving: Making wooden combs, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Woodcraft: Steadily becoming an inclusive craft industry
Wood Carving: Wood workshop in Qaziwalla village, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Yog Raj’s workshop is witness to the fact that the craft industry in Nagina is no longer confined to the community of Multan, who are said to be the predecessors of this craft.

Wood Carving: Scenes from the workshop in Old Delhi, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The contribution of women is also being recognised and appreciated. Now girls also learn this craft, along with their education, and help their families run their craft businesses efficiently.

Wood Carving: Young craftswomen at their family workshop in Old Delhi, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Young girls like Sadiya and Swaleha, Mohammed Matloob’s daughters, enjoy working on wood craft together.

Wood Carving: A walking stick, Mohammed Matloob's workshop, 2018-03, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Read more about Woodcraft industry from Nagina here:

- Nagina woodcarvers
- Portrait of a master craftsman
- Innovative Products

Dastkari Haat Samiti
Credits: Story

Text: Rashmi Sacher
Photography: Subinoy Das
Artisans: Mohammed Matloob and his team of apprentices, Yog Raj and his team of wood carvers
Ground Facilitator: Rashmi Sacher
Documentary Video: Subinoy Das
Curation: Ruchira Verma

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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