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The Story of a Master Craftsman:
Mr. Chandru is the son of Mr. Kenchayyawho is a sixty years Master-craftsman of Channapatna, lives in a small village, MuniyaponnaDoddi, situated 80 km south-west of Bangalore. Chandru is also an expert like his father and is the third generation artisan in the craft after his father and grandfather lived successful life as toy makers. They live in the interiors of the village on an acre of land with his large family. Chandru is one of six children of Master Kenchayya and his mother Kabalamma. He studied upto fifth grade after which he pursued craft of toy makinguner the guidance of his father and grandfather. Chandru’s grandfather initiated the making of the Channapatna Toys by hand and was the first in the village who trained boys from the village under him, after which they set up their own little workshops. Chandru’s father with the help of his friend Nizam started producing toys with the help of lathe machines and approached the Cauvery Arts Emporium on M.G road in Bangalore city to buy his toys. This is how large scale production of toys started and is continuing to date.
Chandru’s brothers work in various industries such as furniture,IT sector and the police force in Bangalore city, and her has a married sister. Chandru also has a daughter, who is married and has a son, Shrinivasa Balaji from whom Chandru derives inspiration to make toys for his learning and play. Chandru’s son pursues an Information Technology Engineering degree from Bangalore College. A small temple constructed by him and his father under a massive Banyan tree forms a part of his backyard, where his mother performs ‘poojas’ for the God Muneeshwaranda (Lord Hanuman) every morning at 10:00 a.m, for which people from the village duly attend the ceremony. His family god is Lord Balaji whose temple is in the centre of the village where major rituals and ceremonies are conducted. His uncle owns the land next to his and beyond that the village houses a Muslim Zilla.
Tools and Raw materials: The wood used for toy making is called ‘Aalai wood’ and is regarded useless for any other purpose except for the making of toys. Every Monday, a lorry carrying one ton of wood, costing Rs.3000 is brought to Chandru’s workshop. The waste wood dust and particles are packed into sacks of 100 kg each and sold for Rs.200 for religious fires in ceremonies. Simultaneously five kilograms of lacquer is consumed in a month’s time and is bought from the city by the craftsman himself at Rs.840 a kilogram.
Colour Making: Vegetable powder of various colours mainly yellow, blue, green, red and orange (derived from household powders such as turmeric for yellow)(approx.2 tablespoons) are mixed with one kilogram of lacquer to generate the colour to be applied for the toys. The solution is mixed with the help of long wooden sticks and is heated on a high flame for around 18 minutes.
Work Environment: The master Craftsman owns a small workshop that forms a vital part of his home surrounded by a spread of coconut trees. In his backyard, he stores stock of wood and leaves them to dry naturally for a month to drain the milk like sap before it can be used for toy making. Chandru sits in his workshop from morning to twilight and performs all the finishing tasks like hand painting the toys after it has been lacquered along with his father and generates new ideas and concepts. There are four workers working in his workshop who are from the same village. They work from 8:AM to 5:00 PM for six days a week.
The craftsmen are paid differently for the different kinds of parts they make. Chandru claims there are no health issues regarding the making of the toys as the wood dust does not affect the lungs. He does not wear protective gear as he believes it hampers the production process. He has deep gashes and bruises all over his hands due to hazards associated with the lathe machines. Chandru’s workshop supplies products to Cauvery Arts Emporium, situated on M.G in Bangalore. Total revenue generated from the supply is Rs.30,000. He sells around 2000 pieces in a month to the Cauvery emporium. Chandru sends samples to the emporium after which, the Emporium chooses which products to sell and sends him images and number of pieces to be supplied for the month. After getting the order Chandru coordinates his works in his workshop to produce the required amount of toys for the emporium. Chandru has no parallel business although he had land in his backyard to cultivate crops. He leads a content life with his craft business. Some of the products such as the whistles, rattles, wobble toys are the latest innovations and Chandru is proud to have been the first to introduce these in the extensively competitive market. Once a while the craftsmen of the village attend exhibitions in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai and display their toys along with their latest innovations.