Kutchi Mud Work & Wood Carving Workshop
Hodko Village - Rann of Kutch - Gujarat
7th - 12th Nov 2021
Mud Work or Lippan ka Kaam as it is known locally is a unique tradition of sculptural artwork created by the women of Kutch to decorate their homes. Incorporating three dimensional geometric patterns with inlaid mirrors these artworks are created freehand with a mixture local clays combined with fine, fibrous horse manure for strength. Traditionally created to embellish doorways, windows and interior walls, this craft is slowly disappearing as families opt to plaster their homes in cement.
In this workshop you will be learning directly from master artisan Bharmabehn. She is the proud owner of one of the few remaining earthen Bhunga’s in the region. Her home is a stunning example of this unique cultural tradition.
Wood Carving – Lakadi ki Khodai is another famous vernacular tradition of the Kutch region. In this workshop you will spend two days learning under the guidance of master artisan Namori Bhima. His family have been creating masterpieces to ornament grand Haveli’s for centuries. Their designs, consisting of eight different geometric patterns, have been handed down to them by their forefathers, . True to their tradition, every aspect of their work is done by hand.
The workshop will be hosted at Bharmabehn’s home in Hodko village. We will be hosted by her son in his homestay. This is a special opportunity to experience not only their unique vernacular traditions but also to be a part of the beautifying of Bharmabehn’s Bhunga in the lead up to Diwali. Our final evening will be spent celebrating the festival of light with Bharmabehn and her family.
What You Will Learn
- How to identify and harvest natural clays suitable for sculptural work and clay painting
- How to prepare clay for sculptural work and painting
- Natural admixtures
- How to create designs in the Kutchi tradition
- How to use your body as a measure for precision
- Introduction to the various woods used in the Kutch region
- Introduction to hand tools used for wood carving
- Demonstration of 8 different wood carving designs
- Guidance on how to work with chisels
- Instruction on how to measure and draw designs for carving work
- You will gain a unique insight into Kutchi traditions pertaining to vernacular architecture, handicrafts & culture.
Meet the Artisans
Bharmabehn is highly regarded for her intricate mud work. She has created stunning pieces at Hunnarshala in Bhuj & at Shaam e Sarhad Village Resort in Hodko. Bharmabehn is an experienced teacher having taught both mud work and clay painting at CEPT University in Ahmedabad. Like all women in her community she is also an accomplished embroider
Namori Bhima comes from a lineage of wood carving artisans that goes back centuries. He along with his brother Hira Bhima were invited to the UAE by Hunnarshala to hand craft the wood elements for the Sheik’s palace. In addition to wood carving their family also build stunning Bhunga’s. Their work has taken them across India. They currently have projects underway in Ahmedabad and Saurashthra.
Pick up from Bhuj at 9 am
We will travel by private taxi to Khavda where we will meet Bharmabehn for morning tea. She will then guide us to the site where she collects different colours of clay for her mud work. We will harvest some for ourselves so you can learn for yourself how to turn the mud under your feet into a master piece.
Whilst in Khavda we will take a quick detour to visit Hira Bhima and Namori Bhima’s workshop in Ludiya village to get you inspired for their upcoming wood carving sessions.
After lunch we will head to Bharmabehn’s village in Hodko. We’ll meet her family and have a quick tour of Bharmabehn’s Bhunga and the leather workshop where her husband and sons practice their ancestral craft.
The afternoon will be spent learning about the various mud plasters they use in their village for the courtyard floors and walls of the Bhungas. We will also begin preparing the clay and other materials for the next day.
Mud work. We will begin with a mud work demonstration by Bharmabehn. You’ll see she is an expert at freehand design. Afterwards you will spend the rest of the day practicing the technique on the exterior of Bharmabehn’s Bhunga. Bharmabehn will be on hand for one on one guidance to help you perfect your technique.
We will continue on with our masterpieces from the day before up until lunch. After lunch we will have a session on how to prepare your own clay paints using the material harvested on the first day.
Once ready Bharmabehn will again give a demonstration and we will begin the application.
Today is all about clay painting. We will continue with our clay painting from the day before. All the while Bharmabehn will be guiding us and perfecting our technique as we go.
Today we begin our introduction to the intricacies of wood carving, Kutchi style. Namori Bhima will introduce us to their tradition explaining the eight different designs that have been handed down to them over generations. We will begin with some of the simpler designs and as we start to develop our skills Namori Bhima will introduce us to more.
One day working with chisels is not nearly enough so we will continue with our practice from the day before. Today Namori Bhima will also demonstrate the design drawing process so that you will be able to recreate these designs on your own.
Early morning departure after breakfast by private taxi for Bhuj.
***Timetable is subject to change
Inclusions & Cost
- 6 days of hands on teaching & practice in a small group setting
- All materials
- Transport from Bhuj to Hodko & return
- 3 Vegetarian home cooked meals a day & morning & afternoon tea.
- 6 nights triple or quad share in a homestay setting (non-attached bathroom)
- Private Bhunga available at extra cost
Rajasthani Lime Plastering & Flooring Workshop
Kangra - Himachal Pradesh
18th - 23rd September 2021
Lime plasters and flooring are natural, breathable and beautiful to look at and touch. They have withstood the test of time with the oldest examples being traced back to the ancient city of Jericho around 7000BC. Lime plasters are cooling and permeable in nature and allow buildings to breathe. Creating healthier living spaces. In this extended workshop you will learn the traditional Rajasthani lime plastering techniques of Thappi, Lohi & Araish as well as lime flooring. Experience for yourself how these ancient traditions can add a timeless touch to your home or that of your clients.
The historic Nandpur Fort overlooking the Pong Dam will be your canvas. Providing the perfect setting to learn about the importance of restoring heritage properties utilising appropriate materials and techniques.
Made from a combination of slaked lime, surki (fired brick powder), aged gur & metthi seeds, Thappi is an attractive textured plaster that gets its name from the wooden implement that is used to tap the plaster as it cures, firming the plaster & preventing the formation of cracks. The characteristic lines hatched across the plaster are caused during this process giving the plaster its own unique charm. Thappi is also the base upon which the finer Lohi and Araish are applied.
Raw Thappi plaster mix is ground by hand for the finer finishing plaster known as Lohi. This is then applied as a thin finishing layer over Thappi.
The most painstaking of all Araish is made by combining finely sieved slaked lime with marble powder and grinding it to a fine paste. It is then applied over thappi plaster and at a certain stage of curing is burnished by hand with a stone.
Araish is a silky smooth waterproof plaster with a finish similar to that of the Moroccon polished plaster – Tadelakt
You will learn how to prepare and apply all three of these plasters with ample time allowed for hands on practice.
Lime flooring is made utilising the same materials as Thappi plaster. When the floor is being laid broken pieces of fired brick are first laid over the area where the floor is to be laid. Fibre in the form of coconut coir may also be laid during this stage. This is then back filled with the lime/surki mix and levelled using a wooden float. As with Thappi plaster the flooring is given thappi during the curing stages to compress the floor and prevent the formation of cracks. This may be kept as the final finish or Lohi may be applied for a finer finish.
We will be completing a lime floor in one of the rooms of the Haveli during the workshop.
Benefits of Lime
- The Lime Cycle
- Introduction to the various types of lime and their uses
- Durability of lime
- Thermal properties of lime
- Constructing natural water tanks using lime
- Preparing wall surfaces for application of lime plasters
Repair & Restoration of Historic Buildings
- Importance of using like for like materials for restoration
- A demonstration will be given on the process of repairing a damaged brick wall or arch using lime mortar.
Taught by Highly Skilled Rajasthani Artisans
Master mason Rafiq Muwali, has over 40 years years experience perfecting his craft. He hails from a long lineage of Lime artisans. The knowledge he carries with him has been collected over generations and passed on to him by his father and uncles.
Theory sessions will be co-taught by Kimberley Moyle, founder of Indi Architecture.
Snapshot of our Previous Workshop @ Nandpur
Inclusions & Cost
- 6 days of hands on teaching & practice in a small group setting
- Theoretical classes
- All materials
- 3 Vegetarian meals a day & morning & afternoon tea.
- 6 nights camping / dormitory / twin share accommodation
Frequently Asked Questions
If your query is not answered below get in touch.
Do I need any prior qualifications or experience to attend the workshop?
Not at all. Our workshops are as suitable for beginners as they are for architects and experienced natural builders. All you need is a desire to learn and to get your hands dirty. We welcome all ages and backgrounds. We also welcome families.
Will I receive certification?
Everyone who participates fully in the workshop and does not miss any sessions will be presented with a certificate on completion.
How do I reach the site?
Pathankot is the nearest major train station @ 80km away. Gaggal is the nearest airport @ 50km away. Local buses operate frequently to Nagrota Suriyan the nearby town. Alternatively we can arrange private transfers, or with enough notice shared transfers. Please notify us if you would like us to arrange this for you.
Is it possible to attend for only the plastering component of the workshop?
Get in touch to discuss this option. It may be possible depending on the number of participants. Preference will be given for those wishing to join the entire workshop.