One of the interesting things we have encountered as part of our group travel packages with Gate 1 Travel has been the local handicrafts.
We tend to be a little torn with these stops during our trips. These stops are usually at a complex that is one-part local artisans and one-part shopping.
It is evident as soon as you arrive at many of these that most people would consider these places to be “tourist traps” as more times than not, the products are a little overpriced. But, we have also learned that quality is higher than we’d find on the street or at local shops more times than not.
It’s about the experience.
One of the things we like is that everything is centered around seeing how many of the regional handicrafts are made. You often see a step-by-step of how the products are made, something you would not see shopping at local markets.
Beyond seeing how handmade goods are produced, these locations usually offer beverages and snacks during the visit.
Honestly, we’re never under any pressure to buy anything. And we’ve also found that in places like the Kazuri Bead Factory in Kenya, our purchase supported single mothers.
Jaipur HandicraftsNational Highway No. 8 Near Khole ke Hanuman Ji Temple, opposite Panch Mukhi Hanumanji Temple, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302002
Jaipur Handicrafts appears to be one of a dozen or so places, all with similar names who popped up on our online map. We’d have to assume that they all pretty much offer the same experiences, products and that the pricing doesn’t differ much.
Block Printed Textiles
This location started us off in an outdoor area where an older man demonstrated the art of block printing textiles. The process was pretty amazing as carved wooden blocks were dipped into natural dyes and pressed into the fabric. There were multiple blocks, each for a different color that, when layered on top of each other, created a complete colorful textile.
The second stop in our visit was a demonstration by two gentlemen sitting on the ground at weaving looms. Each sat quietly weaving handmade carpets, while meticulously following a predesigned pattern.
After seeing the artisan demonstrations, we were welcomed into a huge room lined with handwoven carpets of every size shape and color. We were shown carpets made of wool, a wool-cotton blend, and silk to see and feel the differences in detailing and the feel of the fabric. Obviously, with increased detail and texture comes an increase in pricing.
We decided to invest in a carpet runner for our home, a twelve-foot-long by two-foot-wide, in a light blue color that matched our entryway. There was a little pressure to upgrade by showing us large or more detailed carpets; it wasn’t annoying.
At the end of the day, the carpet was a few hundred dollars, including shipping to our home. Surprisingly, it arrived just a few days after we did.
After the carpet demonstration, we were invited into a large shop with handmade textile products – everything from scarves to sheets, table runners, and shirts. We’ve already picked up a few things at local street markets, so we wandered into the next room, filled with HUGE, very expensive sculptures, wood carvings, carved doors, and ceramics. A little too rich for our blood.
Overall, the artisan experience was interesting and informative. We made one purchase here and have always found something to bring home that was a great example of local handcrafts and reasonably affordable.
- Enjoy the experience of seeing local handicrafts stand up front, and close enough to see, and sometimes they give you a sample of their work.
- Take advantage of the time to have a local snack or beverage and relax in the air conditioning.
- Don’t feel obligated to buy anything – there are lots of times we just look.
- Set a budget if you are looking for a souvenir and look to find something within that price range – you’ll always find something. It’s about the memories and not the purchase.