The joys of EBay! LeaAnne and I decided to go in on a little money making venture while at the same time helping out a few of her friends in Kashmir.

Ajaz and Mohammed are friends of my sister and live in Kashmir, the disputed territory between India and Pakistan. They are quite amazing artisans who make traditional paper mache items like the ones shown on the right. They have mad skills but the treat of violence has made it difficult to get their wares to markets outside their region. So, LeaAnne decided to recruit me to help in selling some of their crafts on EBay.

The package, addressed from Srinigar, Kashmir, came before Thanksgiving and I spent several late nights sorting and photographing the vast cornucopia of Christmas balls, bells and stars
as well as amazingly detailed gift boxes. 

The outside of the package did not belie it's contents. It looked like it had been sent in 1812 and had been seriously delayed in transit. The cardboard box was wrapped in burlap and the burlap was sewn with thick twine to create a durable cover. 

Each piece was wrapped in 2
 layers of brown paper with the first layer soaked in some sort of oil to keep the moisture out. It smells like kerosene or diesel but who knows. But the proof is in the pudding I guess. All the pieces arrived intact after a trek around the world and more than likely on several bicycles, rickshaws or donkey carts.

The pieces are truly amazing. They are painted in many layers of incr
easing detail with a smooth lacquer coating. The detail is crazy.
 Apparently the fine detail is painted with a brush that only has a few hairs fro
m a squirrels tail to hold 
the paint! I hope that the quality shows through on EBay.

Kashmiri Paper Mache is different from the 'strips of newspaper and paste' variety we Americans are used to from Elementary school
 pinata's. It is a paste of paper pulp that is molded into shape, then painted over.

So...if anyone is searching for the perfect Christmas ornament this year take a look around our store. We made sure the makers were happy with the price they recieved so you can rest assured these are not sweatshop produced (Nothing this pretty ever came out of a sweatshop, believe me). Also, with the violence
 over the last year this order has helped them to stay afloat in difficult times. We ar
e also donating 10% of our profits to Indian charities through EBay to do our part.