A crafted table, a painted lamp

Text by Anubhuti Poudel

Craft can only be appreciated for so long. Add function to the form and it becomes something you can celebrate for a lifetime.

Archana Singh knew she wanted to be an artist. Be it beads or ceramic, she knew she had a hand (and a heart) to create beauty and serve it to people. While artists dream of serving people’s eyes, Archana knew she wanted to add a purpose as well. She wanted her art to be used. A part of culture without practical use is not culture at all, she thought.
Craftmandu is not just a place to find “beautiful” items. The items are beautiful, but it is their striking utility value that makes them most desirable. A glass painting for instance is not merely a show piece. It can be a table or even a passage light. The beauty of Craftmandu is not just in its craft, but more in its utility.

The candles and soap form a gift pack, the combination making it a sweet gift. You might enjoy the beads or even the scarves of silk, Pashmina or cotton which are all really nice. “All the items here are hand picked. I go from place to place looking for things that I might add to the store,” says Archana. What qualifies something to make it to the store? It has to be unique, useful and meaningful. “We try to get items that have been brought into life by people who need our help. So we work with women’s groups and street children. We have plenty of their items in our store,”she adds.

There’s a varieties of candles, paper, wood craft and silver jewellery beside the clothes. What got Archana into craft? It was a childhood passion she says. “I remember as a home science student at St. Mary’s; I was so intrigued by craft. I have always loved it. But I took a sabbatical from it when I worked in the development sector. But now I think I am back,” she says.

The question then is,why Craftmandu? There are options. You can find things you like that are pretty and have been made in a way that fits various styles and purposes. They are rare and hand-chosen by Archana herself, an art connoisseur herself. And most importantly, it is crafty enough to represent Nepal in a way that makes it a part of the home instead of an odd decorative piece.

“Craftmandu is just the beginning. I want to promote art through my initiative. Whether it is craft classes or demonstrations, I want people to learn to love art so it becomes part of their lives,” says Archana.Craftmandu claims itself to be a paradise for handicraft lovers. With so much to look at and choose from, the uninitiated might just love it too.