These dolls are distinct from the mass produced toys you'll find in shops.

Covida and Malar dolls made using scraps and crochetL: Covida | R: Malar
Features Toys Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 19:11

If you’re bored of run-of-the-mill stuffed dolls and mass produced toys for your children, options are aplenty. From toys made using paper to those made with reusable fabrics and crocheted dolls, entrepreneurs are not just making creative choices but sustainable ones.

Recently, there was the news of a woman from south Delhi making dolls using corn husks. Then there’s another Coimbatore-based woman who makes elegant dolls using just newspaper.

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And interestingly, most of them making these out-of-the-box toys are women. Here’s a list of one-of-a-kind dolls you can add to your children’s (or your) collection or to your golu steps, to make your Navaratri more unique.

Meet Covida, a sign of hope

She's a rotund, cheerful little doll, of a size that can fit in your palm, with thick hair tied into pony-tails on either side. She wears a string of beads around her neck and her body has minimal embroidery. Meet Covida, who was born out of a necessity, as a sign of hope.

The doll was conceptualised to sustain the livelihood of Lambadi (tribal) artisans based out of Sittilingi Valley in Dharmapuri district. Dr Lalitha Regi, who has been with Porgai Artisans since their inception in 2006, says, “Covida was born out of two reasons, one is to ensure our artisans had work and were able to earn through the lockdown. They are the only earning members in their whole family. Second, we didn’t have much fabric when the lockdown began, no money to purchase anything new. We naturally went back to bits and pieces of fabrics we had and started making Covida dolls.”

This way, the artisans were engaged, she adds. “We wanted to make a product that can connect with everyone. We also wanted to remain positive. That is why we thought of Covida. This is something that came out of our effort to remain hopeful. We thought, why not share it and spread it to everyone?” Lalitha says.

Made using scraps of fabrics and re-fashioned with Lambadi handiwork, the dolls are priced at Rs 21 each, and are sold in packs of 10, 25, 50, 100 and more. Covida can be pinned to dresses, bags, key-chains or just added to your children’s mini toy collection. The team of over 60 Lambadi artisans has been selling Covida since August 31 and so far, they have sent over 4,000 Covidas across India to spread hope.

Those wishing to buy Covidas can do so here or reach out to them on 09786743223.

Crocheting Indian dolls

Chennai-based architect Tirupurasundari Sevvel who has written a picture book for children called Malar’s Big House, illustrated by Ankhita Kini, has been working with a couple of women handicraft artisans to make dolls based on the character from the book. “As children we’ve played with Barbie dolls that did not look like us. I remember, when I was a kid, my paati would add a small dot to my doll’s leg, to match the mole I had. Just for that relatability and the representation. I wanted to bring that for children now, and so started with Malar,” she tells TNM. 

Indira (35) from Chennai has always loved crocheting, even as a 13-year-old, starting with the usual headbands and scarves. “Then when I had my second child, around 2013, I began learning new techniques from YouTube,” she shares. Indira’s crochet work is mostly used for newborn photography, as props. Her crochet toys are palm sized and can be customised on request. “I recently made a Captain America toy for my children. But now I am working on making Indian-looking dolls based on Chennai-based architect Tirupurasundari Sevvel’s suggestion,” she adds.

Pollachi-based Kirubashini (27) who now lives in Tiruppur, began crocheting dolls just recently, around May. While she began with cartoon and animal characters at first, Kirubashini has been encouraged by Tirupurasundari to explore Indian-looking dolls.

Indira can be reached on the Roseknits page on Instagram and Kirubashini can be found on Yarnarte on Instagram.

Creativity with paper

Over the past 10 years, 50-year-old Vijayalakshmi Sivakumar who lives in Chennai, has explored every craft possible. “I’ve made jewellery using quilling, silk material, fabric, crochet you name it… throughout the year I’d have orders from people and every year I’d keep moving to a different craft,” Viji says. But when her work took a beating due to the lockdown, Viji took a break. “I had spare quilling papers lying about in the house, so I just thought I’d make something to finish them. But now, I’ve again purchased more paper for Rs 3,000,” she chuckles.

Viji has been making miniature toys, kitchen sets, musician sets, pots, dining table sets and the likes using quilling paper. “I want to keep exploring more. People have asked me to make dasavatharam sets for Navaratri,” she adds.

Those wishing to buy from Viji can contact her on 09841979307 on get in touch via her Facebook page.

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