Doll makers go green, use vegetable products

New Delhi: The humble sponge gourd (`tori`) has had a makeover, literally, with its net, along with jute and sunflower seeds, being used to make dolls and small wall decor pieces. These were among several patterns that were displayed at the recent Indian Handicrafts and Gifts Fair (IHGF) held in Greater Noida that attracted around 5,000 buyers from overseas.

Crafts from the northeast adorned the theme pavilion at the fair. Additionally, six of the exhibitors from the northeast put up their stalls at the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd. (NEDFi), an arm of the Development of North-East Region Ministry, ensemble inside the main building. "We had several inquiries from foreign buyers. Though the whole process of orders to supply of finished products takes some time, the response to several of our products was quite encouraging," says Manoj Das, NEDFi deputy general manager based here.

"Among the many innovative products were dolls and home decors made of sponge gourd nets, jute and sunflower seeds and water hyacinth, bamboo and cane items," Das adds. He said baskets, mats, bags and furniture made from water hyacinth continue to be a hit among buyers.

The theme pavilion was designed by the National Centre for Design and Product Development (NCDPD), under the Ministry of Textiles.  NCDPD executive director R K Srivastava says, "The northeast theme pavilion was a rich representation of the region with myriad crafts like handloom, home accessories, candles, decorative items, shawls and wicker ware. The products were all natural and handmade."

The annual fair, organised by the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH), saw nearly 1000 product lines, styles and designs and a collection of eco-friendly handicraft items prepared by over 2,000 craftsmen. The fair was open only to bulk and trade buyers.

Another participant had garments made in Sikkim with fabric from Mumbai and embellishment like chikankaari made in Lucknow.

Jesmina Zeliang, EPCH convenor (northeast), says new designs have come up with lot of improvement and innovation. "We have tried to experiment with bamboo lamps in a more upgraded manner for the high-end market," she says.

According to EPCH sources, the four-day fair generated an approximate business worth over Rs 900 crore. EPCH is a nodal agency under the Ministry of Textiles working for promotion of Indian handicrafts and has been organising the annual IHGF since 1994.