Delhi-based art studio Culture Chauraha’s mission is to help people experience traditional arts and crafts in a more meaningful way. The brainchild of mother-daughter duo Ritu and Smriti Sangal, the studio was started in 2014 to help shift public focus from passive consumption to the actual creation of art. The studio offers art workshops and regular courses at different locations in Delhi—from arty cafés and museums to their own studio—in styles and mediums such as porcelain painting, enamelling, woodcut printing, parchment craft and Tanjore painting. Ritu is an accomplished Tanjore artist who has been teaching for over 30 years, and Smriti is trained in enamelling. Both are at home in various other mediums: oil, acrylics, charcoal and watercolours.

Their most popular class is enamelling, a process in which a piece of metal is decorated by fusing it with coloured powdered glass at high temperatures. Known in India as meenakari, the process was traditionally passed down generations, says Smriti, “but not to the daughters of the house, because they would go away after marriage, taking the trade secrets with them."

Then there is a course on woodcut printing, which has a long history in India, especially in the context of textiles. The idea of a woodcut print as an object of art in itself—pioneered by the likes of the 16th century German artist Albrecht Dürer—is an import. “With better understanding, people can develop empathy towards the many amazing crafts," says Smriti.

The workshops last anywhere between one and five days, but customized long-term options are available.

When I visited a workshop one morning, participants at the parchment craft workshop in a central Delhi café included chartered accountants, a lawyer, a financial analyst and content writers. A clinical psychology student said she was there for “expressive therapy,"which combines psychology and the creative process to promote emotional growth and healing, as described by Psychology Today. Tanvi Saraswat, an accountant, was convinced of the activity’s spillover effect on her life and work. “You know, you get better ideas and enjoy your work more," she said.

Another student explained at some length how human fingertips are one of the most sensitive parts of the body, with thousands of nerve endings. “So anything you do with your hands is deeply satisfying and therapeutic," she said.

The workshops by Culture Chauraha are ongoing. For details, visit Culturechauraha.com.

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