5 DIY Crafts To Learn From National Crafts Museum

That India is a veritable gold mine when it comes to traditional art forms is not new to us who have grown up with these art forms all around us in some way or the other. Whether it be terracotta sculptures that adorn our gardens or bandhej dupattas that add colour to our wardrobe, we are well aware of the rich influence that these arts and crafts have on everyday life today. But what if some of these art forms need not be only admired in exhibitions and galleries; you can also make them yourself with little or no formal training at all.

There’s no disputing the fact that National Crafts Museum at Delhi is the largest, most authentic, and one of the few authorities of arts and crafts of India. In fact, with its research facilities and retail outlets, it’s not just an exhibition gallery.

Indeed, a visit to the Museum would be a revelation for every Indian and foreigner as it houses several traditional craftsmen, often spotted there working studiously -poring over their work, alongside their finished pieces which are available for sale.

A visit to the National Crafts Museum may not always be feasible or their products be within budget, so here are some of the crafts displayed there that you may try at home.

Madhubani

Also known as Mithila paintings, Madhubani art hails from the Bihar region of India and were originally wall art created by the women of Janakpur (now in Nepal), the knowledge passed down through the generations to become what is it today; an exquisite design that you would find on bags, bangles, even garments.

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Image Courtesy Megha Agarwal – Bhaili.com

The art form was essentially born when Ram and Sita were married and King Janak had commissioned a few artists to capture their wedding ceremonies via paintings.

It is a very intricate style of painting but you need not travel to Mithila Art Institute to learn this intricate art form and although it is surprisingly easy to try it at home, it does require patience and diligence.
You could opt for a simple design, like the one above or a black and white painting, which even makes for a great personalized gift.

 Terracotta/Pottery

Terracotta is the art of using clay to create sculptures and earthenware. The term ‘terracotta’ literally means baked earth and is often referred to as not just an art form but also as the name of the finished earthenware, especially if it is brown-orange in colour.

Traditional terracotta is obviously made using a kiln but you need not necessarily depend upon one to make it at home. While small items like jewelry or tiny decorative show pieces are easy to bake (if you use clay that can dry in the air or Sun, you need not bake it at all) at home using saw dust or charcoal, you can give bigger items like pots or sculptures to a commercial kiln to fire.

What’s more, the clay figures can stay intact for indefinite periods (if kept safe from breakage and water), in case you are not able to find a commercial kiln right away.

Once dried, paint them and use them as home decor items and impress your friends when they come visiting or as ornamental jewellery to make a fashion statement. Not only is it eco-friendly but also would also make heads turn.

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Image Courtesy Ruchika Pal

For Pottery, one needs to have certain tools like a Potter’s Wheel on which you sculpt the clay as the wheel rotates. And while you do need to have a potter’s wheel, you need not actually go out and buy one just to try your hand at it. It would be easier to attend a workshop or a trial class.

Kanika Pal, Chief Thinker at SoCHE Foundation, actively promotes the craft and even conducts workshops in Delhi.

“Pottery is hugely rewarding and what’s even better is that it helps improve your concentration as well as your hand-eye coordination. It’s a great stress-buster too, so perfect for kids and adults alike. I’ve been involved in this for over three years and am still discovering the joys it can offer,” she says.

For the festival of Diwali, SoCHE Foundation is hosting an online Diwali Carnival in October – offering eco-friendly, hand-made clay items. Product range includes terracotta diyas, Ganesha fridge magnets, paper mache fruit baskets & mithai trays etc, among other things. Use them to decorate your own home or as a thoughtful Diwali gift.

Phad painting

Originally, from Rajasthan, this folk style of painting involves scroll art and the use of a long piece of cloth. The painting is a visual form of narration as it involves telling stories or depicting scenes from mythology or history. This painting is extremely delicate in its selection of tools and colours.

Indeed, one unique characteristic of this phad painting is that the colours are mixed and lifted from open sea shells. This is to protect the tip of the soft brush and also avoid the pigments from hardening.
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To make this painting at home, pick up any of the DIY kits that are easily available in the market.

Sanjhi Painting/ Paper Art

An intricate form of painting originating from the land of Krishna {Mathura, Uttar Pradesh}, this highly delicate artwork can take days to complete. The intricate and delicate designs on paper are made with cuts from a pair of scissors or a blade. One definitely needs to have a lot of patience and deft fingers to maneuver the scissors and the canvas without snipping it into two.
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What’s really astonishing is that the artists who are adept at this art form do not use any sketching or tracing to print the design, meaning this is all done free hand. Once complete, these impressive paintings are great pieces of art in themselves, placed against a solid, single-coloured background. Alternatively, cut paper stencils can also be used to make water paintings by tracing the colours on flat surfaces {or water}.

To make one at home, just head to the local market to source the necessary tools. You could even opt for the easier way out and pick up one of the readily available stencils from the market. Use this to trace the designs on a smooth surface and make an intricate water painting or a colourful rangoli.

The pictograms that were used for directional signages during Commonwealth Games in 2010 were based on this exquisite art form.

Wood Carvings

While National Crafts Museum does house some exquisite examples of wood carvings in its premises, the intricate handwork in lattice works or jharokhas could only be possible using a chisel or wood knife. A wide array of techniques and tools are used to make wood carvings. For doing it at home, simpler designs are advisable, especially if you are a beginner. Although it can be hugely rewarding, it would also be time-consuming as a lot of skill and technique is involved. It’s best to start with the basics and take the basic safety precautions for the home attempt. Like the Sanjhi art, it is very inexpensive as it needs only wood and a carving tool like a knife or a gouge to complete.


Have you ever tried your hand at any of the above crafts? What other crafts can you add to the list? Do share your comments and feedback via the comment box below.


An excerpt of this article was originally published on Little Black Book.


All photographs displayed in this post have been sourced from friends and used here only for the purpose of the article. All rights remain with the original contributor. Usage and reproduction of same without prior permission is prohibited.

Featured Image Source – SoCHE Foundation

Author: Wandering Soul

A nomad at heart, love reading, travelling and photography and now trying to combine them all.

12 thoughts on “5 DIY Crafts To Learn From National Crafts Museum”

    1. Wonderful! I think a DIY needs a lot of creativity. I can only admire them from a distance, and not make one myself 😀 Feel free to make something and share with us. 🙂 Can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with from this list.

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