Social enterprise Craft Boat works with artisans preserving generations-old, eco-conscious techniques while creating innovative products.
The name Craft Boat itself stems from two factors: the artisans practice a traditional papermaking craft and, as kids, they learned how to create paper boats. For our collection, artisans practice techniques including recycled handmade papermaking, paper product making, stitching, natural dyeing, and tie-dyeing. The process involves everyone from papermakers and screen-printers to craftspeople and quality checkers in a collaborative environment. By working with Craft Boat, they are building upon their talents and tapping into their creative and design skills.
Dating back to the 1500s, the technique of handmade papermaking has been passed down through generations in India. During that time period, Mughal emperors were ruling India and paper production and consumption was limited to the monarchy. The artisans are preserving generations of a unique cultural technique; if artisans like those at Craft Boat did not practice this technique, it faces the risk of being replaced. India is among the top three countries for cotton production. The discarded cotton is gathered from garment manufacturers throughout India and sent to papermaking workshops in Sanganer, a town in Jaipur. The textile scraps are assorted and recycled into a paper pulp, which is then transformed into sheets of 100 percent cotton paper to develop sustainable products. Every piece is cut, pasted, and made by hand. This cotton paper is used to make stunning paper products and may be naturally dyed or screen-printed based on the design; the final product is functional and beautiful. The quality and the texture of the materials set them apart and make them incredibly special.
With paper- and cotton-based pieces, artisans create the fabric from cotton yarn derived from the cotton plant. They carefully weave the yarns together to form the textile. They will then fold and tie the textile once with a thread to prepare it for dyeing. To naturally dye textiles and linens, the process involves extracting colors from natural sources including indigo leaves and the bark of sappan trees, or Indian redwood trees. Naturally dyeing with indigo has been practiced in the Bagru area of Jaipur for ages; this is a technique native to India and is generations-old. The indigo plant grows in abundance due to the climate. The sappan wood, resulting in a blush color, also grows widely in the southern part of India. These colors are transferred to textile or paper when the artisans fold and tie them to form beautiful patterns. They untie, dry, and iron the fabric. In the final stages, the textiles are stitched together to completion.
Paper- and fabric-based boxes take approximately two to three hours to create, smaller gift accessories will take approximately one to two hours, and linens including our napkins and placemats take approximately one to two hours.