Diwali Gifts are here!

It’s Diwali again. The time of the year when everything is so happy and festive. The time when winters are here and so are the hot chocolate and coffee sessions with friends. I am particularly fond of candles, little diyas and I cannot have enough candle holders at home. On one my trips to Udaipur in Rajasthan, I found this beautiful hand-carved marble piece. I got one for myself and the many compliments I’ve received over the months has inspired me to make this a part of the Diwali Gift Hamper.

Here is how the lit one looks. It casts a beautiful shadow all around it.

Gift Hamper from CraftCanvas (GS001). Combined with dry fruits and scented candles, the marble tea light holder is packed in an attractive box. Priced at Rs. 699/-

Another one with a little ‘Dhokra‘ Ganesha from Dhenkanal, Orissa- one of the Ganesha’s from the band. Priced at Rs.599/-.

Boxes made in subtle, yet rich Diwali colours. Perfect for Diwali gifting.

You can click here for more photos and email craftcanvas@gmail.com in case you are interested.

This item is available at our eBay Store.

Wall murals from Molela

After the overwhelming response on my wall project, I had to write about the craftsman who made those wonderful plaques.

Local myth claims that a blind ancestor was granted vision by the local deity ‘Dharmaraja’. The blind man sculpted the god’s shadow on a two dimensional plaque. Thus evolved this practice of making plaques, instead of three dimensional figures.

Molela is a quaint village, the one that you will normally miss on your way to Nathdwara. The only signboard is usually hidden under layers of movie posters. Once you get there, the rows of houses with their terracotta wares is the first sight to greet you. I wanted to visit each one of them. I started with the first one, spent around four hours and reluctantly left the place without any time for the rest.

I visited master craftsman Jamnalal Kumbhar’s home. I entered a workshop where his entire family was involved in making these plaques. Here is the picture of his wife putting in the final finishes on the plaque.

The entire household revolves around his work. Stacks of these plaques are found everywhere. While I was there, Jamnalal was working on an order for a thousand plaques for a home in Delhi!

The clay is collected from the local river bed, dried and beaten to a fine powder. This is then mixed with donkey dung (binding agent)! and water. The mixture is used to make the plaques. For the details, balls and strings of this mixture are used. The basic idea is in the craftsman’s mind, which is further improvised on the go.

The local deity is ‘Dharmaraja’ and during the months of March-April,  tribal communities from as far as Madhya Pradesh come to Molela to buy these brightly coloured plaques. These are then carrried on their heads back home as a ritual. The winter sun is just right for making these plaques that are sold during the summer. The summer sun is quite harsh and can lead to cracking.

 A plaque with ‘five sisters’ is used as a symbol of welcome in homes. These sisters are believed to welcome the good and ward off evil.

A series of scenes from village life are made using these plaques. When the demand for Dharmaraja idols dwindled, these smart craftsmen started introducing new designs.

This mural has all the major designs used in this craft. Jumnalal made this thirty years ago. Though replicas of this piece can be commissioned, this one is definitely not for sale! 🙂

Please click here for more pictures.

Terracotta on my wall..

It’s been three months since I’d picked up a few terracotta plaques from Molela, Udaipur. I knew the wall where I wanted it, but I was contemplating a design. Initially the plan was to intersperse this with a few black and white pictures taken during my travel. Then it was a mix of paintings and finally I decided to give it a go. Without the paintings, of course and I am very happy with the result.

The wall where I wanted to do this installation. The plain white walls weren’t just right. I wanted something that was warm, Indian and would contrast the red terracotta brilliantly.

However much I was impatient to have my yellow walls, I had to wait for the process. And it takes time!

Yellow is definitely a difficult color. Too bright is tacky and too light is dull. I bought the brightest yellow possible and manually mixed white colour and applied patches till I was sure (almost!).

All that effort was definitely worth it. The wall turned out beautifully.

Since they were going to be riveted directly to the wall, I had to get the placement right. I tried a lot of combinations and decided to take my friend Shivani’s advice. She said the more intricate ones neeed to go at the end. That would be visually more appealing.

Terracotta is tricky. One crack and the whole thing falls apart. I hadn’t really planned it in my head when I bought it. So I had exactly 9 pieces! So it was such a relief once all of them had holes drilled in. One of the plaques chipped a bit, but I cleared this round without much incident.

I’d rather be safe than sorry. So I decided to use two screws diagonally on each plaque to fix it to the wall. One piece of advice for hanging art- ideally the mid point should be 57-60 inches from the floor. Mine is about 64 inches, but then there is a lesson to be learnt in almost everything in life! 🙂

The beauty of handicrafts is in the imperfections. The similarly (almost) sized tiles look fabulous when put together. I used some red color and cement mixture to camouflage the rivets.

I cannot even explain how happy I feel, everytime I pass by. The colour is perfect, the setting is right and brings a lot of character to my home.

If you like this and want something like this for your home, just message me!

Pokharan’s Potter

I always knew Pokharan only as the first underground site where India tested its nuclear weapon detonation. So when we stopped over there on our way to Jaisalmer, I was surprised to see a typical bustling town. Dotted with jewellery stores selling the beautiful kadas (bangles), old men smoking their bidis and soaking themselves in the winter sun, we walked through a busy market selling fresh vegetables. We passed by beautiful havelis (most of them in very bad condition and close to ruins) and reached the potter’s place. The potters stayed in a colony of sorts. I had just enough time to pick up a few souvenirs from this place, before hitting the road to Jaisalmer. Asharam’s home was the first one on the street. This (picture above) is what I found! A whole lot of his products. Though terracotta is such a common material that we encounter in our everyday lives, it never fails to fascinate me. Asharam has a very serious look when he works. His deft hands give the finishing touches that make the whole thing seem so real.

A giraffe pot for plants. Asharam also makes other interesting pots with bulls, elephants, even birds!

The process of making a Giraffe pot!

Some of the other designs that he makes. The animal collection of pots, a huge lion (almost life-size) and even a fountain fitted with a small motor! Asharam’s father makes Urns like the ones above. The entire household is built around his work. The clay is stored in the backyard and offer a wonderful play area for his children.

A smile for the road! For more pictures, please click here..