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NOVICA Artisan Alka Jain

Alka Jain

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I was born in 1973 in Delhi, which is famous for its rich heritage and culture. As a child, I'd see artisans like jewelers, woodcarvers, brass metalworkers and printers, who lived near my home.

My father sold incense and worked from home. Our artisan neighbors would visit us often and this is how I became interested in the arts and crafts of India.

"I'm especially interested in wood and terracotta crafts that are useful as well as decorative. I love working with natural materials instead of glass or metals. My first designs were small tables and I slowly began creating other pieces of furniture.

"I learned to design inlay myself. I began visiting exhibitions where I could talk with craftspeople from all over India. It was enjoyable to compare different art forms. Southern designs are mainly inspired by temples and the inlay features natural colored woods whereas designs from Northern India feature inlays in one color. North Indian art uses mostly sheesham and teak for furniture and South India mostly uses rosewood.

"My father-in-law was a craftsman and an exporter. Both he and my father were a source of strength and inspiration for me and always raised my morale when I was going through tough times. It was very difficult for me when they both died.

"I use sheesham wood in my designs because it's a durable hardwood. Although carving it is a bit difficult, it ensures the durability. I also use teak every now and then. For the inlay, we use plastic. In earlier times, ivory was used but, because it was very expensive and was later banned in India, we shifted to camel bone, but bone turned yellow after few months, so we finally decided to use plastic.

"The most challenging wood to carve is ebony, which is the hardest wood I know. When finished, our ebony furniture looks great, but we use only for small pieces or for inlay.

"I work with a team of very experienced artisans and we don't compromise on quality. We hope you like our designs."