Choosing the right craft style to work within the huge range available in India is not easy. We had several discussions on this internally as well as with Dastkaar, an organisation of craftspeople founded in 1981. For the moment Channapatnam has been ruled out as the cluster there is well developed and loaded with orders. It would make more economic and social sense to work with a craft that hasn’t had that kind of exposure yet. Mostly everyone is on-board with the Banaras idea. The city is easily accessible and there is a good range of skills in wood available: turning, lacquering, carving and hand painting. Plus I have some contacts there that would be helpful in connecting us to toy shop owners, artisans and the master craftsmen.
Here are some of the specific skills we’re looking for: addition of details, patterns and textures on the characters we’ve already developed; good replication skills especially for the eyes and the face; and forming, hollowing and lacquering wood on a turning lathe.
These birds on the right are an inch in height. This level of detail on our toys would be awesome.
Photo Courtesy: Handmade in India, Ranjan & Ranjan
I also managed to source some toys from Banaras itself so that we would have an idea of the prevalent style as well as the skill level.
You can see the details on the feathers of the owl as well as some of the patterns on the elephant. The birds are tiny! Maybe 2 cm in length. This sure looks promising! We should be heading out to Banaras in a day or two. Yayy!!