Papier-mache; French for “chewed paper”, is a composite material consisting of paper pieces or pulp, sometimes reinforced with textiles, bound with an adhesive, such as glue, starch, or wallpaper paste.
As a craft form, it is found in many places in India with the two distinct areas being Kashmir and Orissa. Papier-mache in Kashmir is known as kar-e-kalamkari or pen case work, a delicate decorative craft. It comes about in 2 stages – The first is the sakhtsazi, or the actual production of the item. The second is naqashi, when the item is painted with any number of motifs.
The design is painted, free hand. Often the painting is done in relief, with certain pieces of the design subtly raised. In Orissa, papier-mache masks and figurines are inspiredby the patachitra tradition. Mukha, masks, are made by using amould of clay and newspaper. Paper and cloth rags are soakedand applied in layers with locally made gum on the mould. Sawdust mixed with gum is applied smoothly, dried and burnished with sandpaper. As in patachitra painting, the colours are made from seashells and rocks.