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Local women power Kerala artist’s premium handmade sketchbook brand

INDLocal women power Kerala artist’s premium handmade sketchbook brand

Art Every Moment sketchbooks

Cherthala-based artist Kajal Deth says the kind of paper an artist uses is an important component for their creative expression. “The paper does half the work…it should respond when you draw on it.” Locally available paper, most imported from China, did not ‘respond’ as she wanted so she decided to make her own sketchbooks. And that is how handmade Art Every Moment sketchbooks came to be. 

“As artists, sketching is a part of our practice, in fact it is fundamental to art. The paper we use is important. Smooth paper will not do. For instance it plays a role in how the colour translates…things that are important to artists,” says Kajal over the phone. A student of painting from the RLV College of Music and Fine Arts, Kajal, 38, has been part of solo and group shows in Kerala and outside. She also has a studio space at Jew Town, Mattancherry.  

Handmade by choice

She was toying with the idea of making sketchbooks for herself when she heard of Asha, a woman in her neighbourhood, at Cherthala, near Alappuzha, an expert in binding books. Initially she made the books for herself and gave her friends a few. Buoyed by their response, she got down to making the books. Asha trained four other women, and Art Every Moment was on its way in 2019. She started selling at Lokame Tharavadu (2021), the two-month art extravaganza put together by the Kochi Biennale Foundation. 

Kajal Deth 

Kajal Deth 
| Photo Credit:

It was, however, the space at the Biennale Kada (shop), the souvenir store at the Kochi Biennale 2022, that served as an introduction to a customer base from across the country of artists, designers, architects and even celebrities such as Lisa Ray.

“It is intended as a sketchbook, you can sketch, draw using charcoal and watercolours too. Some people use it for journaling too,” Kajal says. She uses different kinds of cotton, handmade paper for the books of varying GSM and sizes — from palm size to the much in demand A4 and A5. GSM stands for grams per square metre, higher the number grams the better the paper.  

The prices of the sketchbooks/journals/watercolour pads range from ₹50 to ₹3500. The cutting is perhaps the only mechanised process, “The rest of it is all made by hand. The cover is canvas, the inside pocket and elastic closure are all hand-attached. A lot of effort goes into each product, the specs are premium. Initially the design lacked perfection, it has now been refined.” 

“I source cotton, handmade paper from India, of course. From where, I will not tell you because it is a trade secret. The cutting is outsourced locally, and the binding is done by the five women.” The work is not regular, mostly driven by orders and demand. 

Kajal explains the schedule. “Production happens only for six months a year. Once it starts raining it becomes impossible to work with handmade paper which literally wilts due to the moisture in the atmosphere. Handling handmade paper in places with high humidity is difficult, throw in monsoon to the mix and it is disastrous. The paper won’t do anything for the artist, so there is no point manufacturing it at the time.” Even the books are made in small batches of 100 or 300, because they cannot be stored for long.  

Art Every Moment, has a client-base across the country of which urban sketchers are a large part. “From Kerala to Bengal to Kashmir…literally from the length and breadth of the country. I don’t think a product like this [the sketchbook] is available which makes it unique and the reason I have repeat customers!”  

Art Every Moment sketchbooks are available @arteverymoment on Instagram

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