27 September, 2020

She promotes "wood-free" paper, and wants to save a dying art form

She promotes "wood-free" paper, and wants to save a dying art form
If she had been a smart marketeer, Neeta Premchand would’ve perhaps promoted her handmade paper as "Paper without Cruelty", packing it in rag-bags, printed with messages like how many trees it takes to make a telephone directory or how many tribals turn destitute when the forest cover turns into your morning newspaper. Instead, as a sales pitch, Gandhiji and ahimsa are invoked to promote "wood-free" paper born from wastes like cotton and silk rags, onion skins, banana peels and okra. And not one tree is lost.

Neeta, in her 15 years of being a papermaker and historian, has not ever hidden behind pretentious shields like watermarks and labels. She has even given up dressing in her craft—once she adorned an all-paper outfit and it started raining, forcing her to run for cover before her outfit-statement could get wet and tear off her body! Now, Neeta lives her life like her book’s title, Off the Deckle Edge, that uneven bumpy border that separates handmade from machine-made paper. She’d rather have you read this documentation of her paper-making journey in...


To read this piece, and more such stories in India's most exciting and exacting magazine, plus get access to our 25-year archives goldmine, please subscribe.

More from Pramila N. Phatarphekar

Latest Magazine

October 05, 2020

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section