Geography & Environment
Artisans & Lifestyle
Storage & Sourcing
The Toy Making Process
Post-production: Finishing Polishing Assembling
Training Centres And SHGs
Life at Channapatna
There are people who are not aware about Channpatna and its wonder. Just an hours drive from Bangalore brings you to this wonderland of toys and small unit factories, famous for there almost two centuries old lacquered toys. This traditional craft is protected as a geographical indication (GI) under the World Trade Organization.
The town is fragmented into different localities where small units where the production of toys is being carried out. Most of the craftsmen “artisans” use the modern method. Whereas the artisans residing in the village still follow the manual, traditional methods. Popularly known as “Toyland”, “Toy town” or “GombegalaOoru” These toys are eye-catchy and specially designed for kids. Apart from just the making part, the production units are also concentrating on design experimentation.
Channapatna is located in the Ramnagaram district of Karnataka. It’s a small town with almost 6000 artisans working everyday on channapatna toys. There are families who work from home and earn money on a daily basis.
HOW TO REACH CHANNAPATNA Channapatna is located nearly west side to Bangalore. It is located in India at the longitude of 77.19 and latitude of 12.66. Bangalore is located at the longitude of 77.57 and latitude of 12.98
The aerial distance is 57 km while the road distance between Channapatna to Bangalore is 65 km.By Train it is 44 Km.
There are 10 direct trains from Bangalore to Channapatna. The fastest and the cheapest train is the Rajyarani Exp which takes you 39m.
There are no regular flights from other major cities of the country to Channapatna. Nearest airport is Hindustan Airport which is 69.5 km.
You can easily get regular buses to Channapatna from other major cities and stops in Bangalore.
Channapatna became the main centre for manufacturing of these toys and dolls, because of large scale settlement of artisans and the availaibility of raw material in and around the village. The people of channapatna are known for their skill of molding the ordinary wood into beautifully carved and painted toys. However toy making it channapatna startted in the beginning of the 19th century. In the beginning, these toys were handmade by the craftsmen, as there were no machines to carve out and shape these toys. They were cut,carved and colored to perfection bythe able hands of the artisan without any flaws, which adde to the value of these toys, in comparison to the ones made by lathe machinery these days. This
and grown since then and has craft has existed become well known in India and in other countries. This art is one of the oldest practised which boomed during the rule of mulitple rulers in the 19th century. Its been almost two hundred years since it started and the craft have faced ups and downs. Late. Mr. Bawas Miya is to be responsible for the development of channapatna traidtional toys. He was to one who brought a revolutionary change to the this craft. He initiated the use of latest machineries for shaping of the wood and helped artisans to improve their skills with better and effective tools. 12
GEOGRAPHY & ENVIRONMENT The town has a population of 71,942 of which 36,098 are males while 35,844 are females report released by Census India 2011, 11% of them are children in Channapatna with a ratio of 933. Male literacy-88.13% Female literacy-81.28% The population consists of a majority of Muslims with a small section of Hindus. The major languages spoken are Kannada and Urdu. Major occupations persuaded in the area are wooden lathe turned toys, twisting of raw silk, coconut, mango harvesting, animal husbandry and farming.
Channaptna taluk falls under Ramnagara district with its headquarters located in Bangalore-Mysore highway. The total geographical area covers 53,587 hectares of land. The town locted 70km south west of Bangalore at 12.65 North & 77.22 E with an average elevation of 739 metres (2424ft) Roads (length)-108.2km Water supply- 70.50 LPCD Temperatureâ€˘ Maximum-32C â€˘ Minimum-19 C
Channapatna toys were created due to the efforts of Tipu Sultan in the late 18th Century. It is said that the Sultan invited artisans from Persia (present day Iran) who came to Mysore and taught the local artisans the art of making the wooden toys. The tradition continued till modern times when the toys fell out of favor with the modern times. Currently there are about 6,000 artisans working in 250 home works and 50 odd small factories making these toys. They now have had the support of the Karnataka government and the KHDC now actively supports the marketing of these toys. Also the recent Geographic Indicator (GI) status to the Channapatna Toys have added further joy to the artisans. So under WTO norms these toys cannot be copied elsewhere.
ARTISANS AND LIFESTYLE between the wood supplied by the government and the local suppliers. Artisans play such an important role in passing on the passion & wisdom. The artisans at Channapatna have been involved in the process of toy making for years and many families make toys in their verandahs & backyards. The designs are usually not their own and very few make toys from their imagination and designs. The imagination drives them to explore new forms and shapes. Not really satisfied with the current market situation, they still continue to work on this centuries long handicraft because of their dedication. Their spirit conveys a sense of reinventing.
The artisans are the soul of this art, who put the hard work are the reason behind these toys. There are more than 600 artisans who work on a daily work basis and sell the products in the end of the day. These artisans work both in organized and unorganized markets. The artisans who work at units belong to the organized sector of market whereas the other working from home is the unorganized sector. They sell their own designs to the middlemen or agents and commonly use the old bow method. The artisans face problems in dwelling for the raw materials. The rate also varies 21
Artisans play such an important role in passing on the passion & wisdom. The artisans at Channapatna have been involved in the process of toy making for years and many families make toys in their verandahs & backyards. The designs are usually not their own and very few make toys from their imagination and designs. The imagination drives them to explore new forms and shapes. Not really satisfied with the current market situation, they still continue to work on this centuries long handicraft because of their dedication. Their spirit conveys a sense of reinventing life. A lot of them started making toys as kids and they believe that its all about honoring the craft. Happiness comes from within and the smiles are pure artisan. We came across few artisans who have been working with channapatna toys for almost five decades now. Mr.Syed Samiulla,an artisan residing in Kalanagar said that he feels delighted, working and making these toys despite the fact that he and most of the artisans are not getting any decent profits. Now, channapatna toys have so much of scope and are being exported in the international market but never got enough exposure in the Indian market Â because of the designers who are giving the craft a different edge. 23
There are established entrepreneurs who have tried to make the toys availaible in the metropolitan cities by bridging the gap. Mr Karthik, founder of Varnam says, â€œWe are not a fad, we are fashion.â€? Inspired by the colors and beauty of these toys he started working with the artisans in an attempt to bring some passion back among youngsters and people who take toy making as a mere hobby. Working with 20 artisans and now, Mr, Karthik Vaidyanathan designs lifestyle products and try to add colors to people busy life. On our visit to a nearby village in Neelasandra famous for its beads, we met many lady artisans sitting and working in their verandahs. The artisans use the old tools & techniques for bead making. The artisans seem to be satisfied with their peaceful lifestyle, they earn an average of Rs 200 in a day. The women are now been involved in a 6 months training programs at the units in the locality. The toy industry of India is mainly focused on the tiny cottage industries with nearly 4000 manufacturers. Since the past five years almost 40 percent of Indian toymakers have already shut their shops and another 20 percent are on the verge of doing likewise. Efforts made by the central and state government to help the small-scale cottage industries and freelance artisans havenâ€™t proved to be any helpful. 26
RAW MATERIALS Lac- It is produced from the natural dyes, pigments. Also extracted from Techinadria lacca, an insect found on forest trees, works as a polishing agent. There exists three varities of lac out of which the button lac is the best, which costs rs 120/ kg. The other variety costs rs 80/ kg whereas the third one being the cheapest costs up to rs 60/ kg. The darker the lac appears the lower the quality. Colors are usually a mix of vegetable dye and food grade pigments, with natural residue obtained from the trees of Kusum in West Bengal and Orissa. Referred to as colors extracted from naturally availaible sources that includes plants and trees and even minerals.
Wood- the making of Channapatna toys is completely based on production of the indigenous, regenerating tree of halae mara (Wrightia tinctoria), commonly sold at a rate of rs 35 per kg. Rosewood (Grevillea robusta) & sandalwood (Santalum) are the most common wood after halae mara that are also being used widely. This wood is mildly hard and is easy to turn into shapes, has low moisture and oil content. Silver wood, teak wood (Tectona grandis). The seasoned woods are kept in a dry and low moisture region to protect it from swelling. Over the decades, its manufacturing has been diversified to other woods like rubber, sycamore, cedar, pine and teak. 31
Maya Organics 32
Various colors are made thatâ€™s are eco friendly in nature. Lac is a natural resin. Lac can be colored using both synthetic and natural pigments. These colors are made by the artisans in the units itself when they are out fo color and require more. They are also purchased in wholesale by some units. A lot of toy retailers sell toys with synthetic colors. These colors contain many toxic chemicals like Barium Sulphate and zinc sulphate mixed with lac which makes it to loose its transparent property. These synthetic colors include a mixture of posters colors.
The wood hale mara is an indigenous wood only found in and around Channapatna. But this wood can also be found in some areas of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. List of villages where this miraculous tree is grown in patches. Bhadravati Shimuga Ramnagar Magadi Salanpur Durug Kakankatta (dada ka pahad) Godeghal Halvoor Satnoor Kanakpur Sangam Raikotta 35
TalegiriÂ (Pandanus odoratissimus)Â is also known as screw pine. This palm-like evergreen tree has bunches of long thick leaves and can be either densely branched or have a clear bole of up to 6 m in height. Found on the coast and along banks of rivers, canals, fields and ponds, the screw pine often has aerial roots. The leaf is an important accessory in lacquerware production. Used for polishing, it imparts a translucence to the finish. Bundles of 100 leaves cost Rs 20. Bunches of these leaves are bought and dried under the sun for a few days before using the leaves.
ALTERNATE MATERIALS There are some other materials such as wax, poster paints, varnish, teak wood etc. that were used than the conventional raw materials as well Rose wood Poster paints and Varnish Sandal wood Jamun wood Wax Silver wood Rubber wood
Rose wood All genuine rosewoods belong to the genus Dalbergia., is an evergreen rosewood tree. . This wood has a strong sweet smell, which persists for many years, explaining the name rosewood.
Poster paints & Varnish Poster paints were being used to make design on bangles and other toys. The articles were painted first and then varnished. But in some cases the object was painted and then coated with colorless lac. The paints and varnish were locally available in the market and are not very expensive as well.
Sandalwood is from genus Santalum. The woods are heavy, yellow, and fine-grained, and unlike many other aromatic woods, they retain their fragrance for decades. Jewellery beads and other accessories are common products.
Jamun wood is an evergreen tropical tree and is water resistant.Water is stored in a jamun glass overnight and in the morning, the same was sieved using a cloth and then consumed. Such a practice carried out regularly had dramatic results in controlling diabetes. Keeping it in contact changes the colour of water (brownish colour) till morning. In this process all the nutrients of the wood get dissolved in the water.
Jamun Water Therapy
Fill the Jamun glass with fresh water and leave it overnight. Keeping it in contact with wood changes the colour of water (brownish colour) till morning. In this process all the nutrients of the wood get dissolved in the water. Use this water early morning before eating anything, after filtering.
Although it had been used on a small scale before and has become much more common in recent decades with the development of chemical treatments to protect the wood against fungal and insect attacks. There are extensive rubber plantations with mature trees.
STORAGE AND SOURCING The locality of Channapatna is surrounded by not only hale mara but many other trees perfect for this craft. The villagers and reidents believe its a boon because of its indigenoous nature. This wood is grown in patches and is scattered in and around channapatna. Villagers owning those patch lands are usually the one gaining the benefit by cutting and selling it in the market. Villagers cut the wood and carry it to the market on a mini truck or smaller carrying vehicles. They are expected to pay almost half the price for the wood transportation at the checkposts. The police charge them and the artisans profit margins have dropped. Since transporting wood is ille gal, artisans now are hesitant to even buy wood. Infact, selling it to clients staying in a different city has become impossible for the artisans. Their earning is negligiable and artisans are forced to sell their products to local business men or middlemen who sell it to the stores in the city at thrice the real price. Paying at the checkposts is not a problem for them. The artisans are aware of this fact but are helpless since they are unable to communicate and they can not travel.
Mr. Syed Samiulla, Kalanagar
Mr. Syed Yakhoobâ€™s storage unit, Kalanagar
Msya Organic storage unit, Sathnoor Circle Road
SEASONED AND UNSEASONED Its important for the wood to be dry and should not have any moisture content inside before being used. This is known as the pre processing of wood or simply, drying process. the first step follows the wood cutting, where its cut into smaller pieces. There exists three different sizes in the milss. the wood pieces have to be cylindrical for further use. Both seasoned and non seasoned wood are being sold and bought. Seasoned are the dried wood which are ready to be turned on the lathe whereas, unseasoned are wet ones. It can be naturally dried where the wood is just stored and kept for drying for 2-3 months. The other process involves the artifical way of heating the wood so that it gradually loses its water. Big oven are used and takes approximately 15 days. Many artisans follow a third way as well, where they use the unseasoned cut pieces, shape them on the lathe and keep them to dry naturally. When the drying processis comlpeted they then polish it using the talegiri leaves.
Maya Organic, Kalanagar
Files and chisel: various different sizes and types of tools are used by a craft person or artisan for shaping the wood in order to develop a product. • Matulayi -blade • Round headed chisel: Kyuli • Marking tool: Bayergay • Bow for hand lathe: Bilkolu • Hand lathe: Patri • Jaw of hand lathe: Muday • Vice/tool rest for hand lathe: Dubbay • Stool for hand lathe: Kalmadey • Clamp: Chandrike • Chisel: Bacchii • Sharpening tool: Ugruli • Small holes : Burma • Smoothening of wood: Chirana
TOOL MAINTENANCE Oiling in electric motor barring is required from time to time which maintains the drift and protects the lathe from jamming. The machine is easily detachable and maintaining the machines and removing the dusts and wastes becomes easier with greasing. The artisans usually buy the blunt, old junkyards tools. Also the government provides tools for rent at the price of rs 90 per month. The continuous use of lathe tools makes them blunt after a period of time, so in bigger workshop artisans have electric grinders to sharpen the tools. Artisans also rub the tools against the stone to achieve the sharpness.
Making Of Tool The local blacksmiths make the chisels, files and other tools. They use a blower locally known as charkha, which is rotated manually. This ignites the fire using charcoal. A metal rod piece is heated taken out and then hit with a hammer on a round metal slab. The desired shaped is obtained and lastly dipped in water. The blacksmith then fixes it on a wooden handle.
Hand lathes are used to make the toys on a bigger scale production by the use of mechanized lathes. Eight small machines are run on a single motor in work shed. The motor usually runs on electricity and has a conveyer belt connected to one end that provides power to lathe machines. Craftsmen usually customize these machines; they can also be dismantled and assembled anywhere. The belt is manually removed in order to stop the lathe machine from the main line, which does not affect or switch off the other lathe machines.
THE BOW LATHE The bow lathe seems identical to the strap lathe except the motive power is supplied by the bow. It reciprocating movement is created by moving the bow backwards and forward by wrapping the string of the bow around the work piece. The strap lathe usually requires two people to work on it, whereas the bow lathe requires only a single person. The drawbacks would include the availability of power to be less and the turner having just a single hand for controlling the tools. In certain situations the person has to use their feet to help steady the tools. Due to a lot of drawbacks only small pieces of wood can be shaped or carved on the bow lathe. Artisans in Neelasandra are usually seen working on a bow lathe using their hands and feet. While one hand would be used in making the lathe rotate using the bow the other hand would be used to hold the tool, whereas one foot would be used to take support from, while shaping the object.
Using water wheels or produced and further transferred to the lathe using line shaft. This progress in technology has lead to fast and simple carving. Electric motor started replacing mechanical power generation and line shafting at the beginning of the 19th century. The belt on the motor lathe was attached to the pole on the top causing the belt to rotate when it had been attached to the shaft of the lathe itself. On one end of the rotating of the lathe the wood would be placed for carving and on the other end would be a plastic fan to provide workers with air as well as fly the saw dust away. Later on, more advanced lathe machines were introduced which did not require any man power. It was a simple process that started with feeding the design into computers after which the lathe machine replicated the pattern, producing upto 400-500 number of objects in an hour or two, further increasing the production rate. These machines can also replicate complex design in a very short span of time, these machines can be found at the crafts park.
TOY MAKING PROCESS Toy making process begins with sourcing of the required raw materials from either the supplies provided by the government or the local market suppliers. Artisans mostly get it from the local market because of the cheaper rates and season them for 2-3 months. Sometimes they use artificial oven method to dry the wood, which takes around 15 days. The sawdust is not wasted. Itâ€™s used in the process of artificial wood seasoning. The dust is collected and put in the oven to create smoke, which dries the wood. The seasoned wood is then cut into circular shapes of different sizes and is prepared for the turning process. It is made sure that the wood is properly processed to avoid cracking and micro organisms influx. The maximum width of wood piece to be used on lathe machine can be 75 mm and length of 200 mm. These small pieces are then mounted on the lathe machine and are shaped with chisels and other tools like ugroli (to sharpen), shapoli (used to create intricate designs), matulayi (cutting or detaching the wood piece from lathe), etc. Once the shaped is derived, sandpaper used to give the finishing to the product surface.
Usually application of Lac is done after completion of the sanding process. While a piece of wood is turning of the lathe color is applied by pressing a single color stick against the wood after which the lac usually melts cause of the heat caused by the friction and sticks to the wood. The lacquer is then spread uniformly using a palm leaf called as thalegiri or pamli by the artisans. A toy unit can have a separate room for assemblage of toys. After all the parts of a toy are made they are sent forward to the assembling room where another artisan uses different threads to summon and tie all the pieces of a toy. The thread or string usage depends on the design of a toy. Some may also require sticking. Now that the product is finished and assembled it is time for its packaging. The less experienced artisans usually participate in secondary steps like assembling and packaging. The more skilled artisans make the pieces on lathe. Packaging depends upon various factors such as- if the products have to be exported to international markets, if the product has to be sold in the domestic market. A lot of toy retailers sell toys with synthetic colors. These colors contain many toxic chemicals like Barium Sulphate and zinc sulphate mixed with lac which makes it to loose its transparent property. These synthetic colors include a mixture of posters colors.
Artisan working in a unit, Kuvempunagar
Post-Production: Finishing, Polishing and Assembling Packaging depends upon various factors such as if the products have to be exported to international markets, if the product has to be sold in the domestic market. The whole packaged toys are then stacked and packed in a bigger carton to be delivered. The finishing and other detailing like facial expression, is then done using highlighters and pens • Bell rattle • Kit kit rattle • Moeebead red • Duby duck • Tuhu red • Birdie rattle • Wind chimes
A toy unit can have a separate room for assemblage of toys. After all the parts of a toy are made they are sent forward to the assembling room where another artisan uses different threads to summon and tie all the pieces of a toy. The thread or string usage depends on the design of a toy. Some may also require sticking. Now that the product is finished and assembled it is time for its packaging. The less experienced artisans usually participate in secondary steps like assembling and packaging. The more skilled artisans make the pieces on lathe.
Bharat Art and Crafts, Kuvempunagar
TRAINING INITIATIVES Oragainzations like Self-help groups are voluntarily created organization and they solve financial and other common problems of artisans and craftsmen. These groups consist of local entrepreneurs generally from the same background or community. Such groups are non-governmental organization and tries to uplift artisans, give them strength and collectively help the needy on a local level. Shilpa trust is a Bangalore based, which was mainly created to bypass the intermediaries to make it beneficial for the artisans. The trust was established Shilpa Trust in 1992 and also provides educational assistance, free health check-ups, skill training and product development. The artisans now a days are equipped and participate in training sessions, organized for beginners and others. Karnataka Handicrafts Development Corporation runs an artisan training institute (ATI) which was established almost 90 years ago. The artisans are trained and given some amount to compensate the loss while training. Maya Organics (MO), created in the year 2004 work around artisans, their skill enhancement and training. to be in the household sector. They continue working for the local market
They majorly support artisans and small entrepreneurs through correct marketing and product development. Women’s participation was lesser which led to the idea of providing separate training classes for women and they started teaching more and more women. Any women above 18 can get trained. Its been observed that the women’s interest has declined and they stop working after they get married. Most women continue to be in the household sector. They continue working for the local market. It’s noticed that in the urban area the no of women artisans is comparatively more than the rural. They majorly support artisans and small entrepreneurs through correct marketing and product development. Women’s participation was lesser which led to the idea of providing separate training classes for women and they started teaching more and more women. Any women above 18 can get trained. Its been observed that the women’s interest has declined and they stop working after they get married. Most women continue to be in the household sector. They continue working for the local market. It’s noticed that in the urban area the no of women artisans is comparatively more than the rural.
It is assumed that In 10 years there will be no toymaker left in Channapatna. In the current scenario, the small channapatna settled business men are forcing artisans to sell their products since the artisans have less knowledge about the market.
In the late 80s when there were almost 5,000 artisans in the locality they used to make interior decorative items such as napkins, curtain rings, etc when orders for all such items started declining and exports went down during the late 90s. Later, India started exporting toys worth Rs.245 crore according to data from a report Productivity and Competitiveness of Indian Toy Manufacturing Sector. It was only after 2006-07 that the imports exceeded the exports. The import to export ratio rised after that.
MARKET INNOVATIONS The market is changing dramatically and the age-old tradition of working in small household units is collapsing. The Chinese toys and industries using cheap chemical colors are rapidly increasing and trying to take over. The booming international market for channaptana toys demands better quality standards and large orders. Larger orders have led to automation of electric lathe and are being spread across many households. One major reason behind mechanization of techniques is meeting better quality standards. As a result of these changes this industry is categorized into organized and unorganized sector and thatâ€™s how the concept of middlemen and agents have come into existence.
Mr. Suhel Parvez, Bharat Art and Crafts Residence: Islampur I finished my graduation in animation, got placed with a good package but had to refuse to take charge of saving this dying art of channaptna toys. now, I am the only one from my generation in the industry and I strive to create better working situations fo the artisans. There are a lot of organizations who claim to work for the betterment of the artisans and infact they have brought some changes here in channapatna. The artisans are getting better profits and help from those institutes. they conduct classes for people belonging to any age group. But the artisans dont know is that these owners sell it for double the price and minting money like anything. Most of the artisans are not educated and get fooled many times. the artisans are not getting any proper support from the government as well. the process of getting the benefit is extremely slow that the artisans have stopped believing in it. I, myself have written many letters to concerned government official regarding the problems including the electricity and water issues but did nit get any positive response. But I am determined to make the artisans lifestyle as good as possible. 133
Mr. Syed Yakhoob Residence: Kalanagar I have being making toys since I was 14 years old but only 15 years ago I started wood selling business in Kalanagar. I have storage room and have few helpers who cut the wood into different sizes. The wood logs usage depends on the product. Products like top, sindoor box is usually prepared with the shortest cut wood. In the beginning it used to be good and we used to bring wood from nearby villages but now its different. We can not even have it stored in the town itself.The police charge us money for the permission to keep the wood. The situation is getting worse and we are hardly earning 50 paise for one cut wood. All of us are unhappy about the fact that our artisans are going through all this. They hardly earn 100 rupees a day.
An initiative of ministry of textiles, supported by Ministry of Rural Development, Office of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts and Handlooms), to provide a platform to the artisans from all across India, this program focuses on uplifting the artisan’s life and their skills. Under Ambedkar Hastashilp vikas yojna, this gives them means to communicate and sell their products in a better market place. The objective is to provide them the right exposure and NIFT’s presence, which gives a wider reach of crafts around the country. It’s a learning opportunity for the students to interact and work with the artisans from these developing handicrafts industry.
One major problem faced by individual artisans is that they do not have any commutation with the the market segment, which usually leads to a poor earing â€˜cause the middlemen buy the products from the artisans in cheap rates and sell it to shops for more price. The situation these days are such that the artisans donâ€™t want their kids to be a part of this craft. They want their kids to be financially in better condition and hence they do not teach them the craft form. The younger generation is leaving the town for pursuing their dreams and to earn higher salary. The government plans for the artisans but the process is very slow and they hardly get any benefit. Also, the basic facilities are not provided, people face water and electric scarcity in and around channapatna and also live in unhygienic condition. Recently there was 3 days power cut in the area which was supposed to be pre-informed.
“We are not a fad, we are fashion.”
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