Craft Corner

The West Bengal State Handicrafts Expo has anchored near Eco Park. Brinda Sarkar scans the items on sale

  • Published 24.11.17

The West Bengal State Handicrafts Expo or Hastashilpa Mela, that residents would have to trek to Milan Mela to attend every winter, has come close to home. Touted as the country’s biggest handicraft fair, the expo is anchored opposite Eco Park’s gate 1 till December 10.

The fair was inaugurated on Saturday by Swapan Debnath, minister of micro, small and medium enterprises and textile department. “This industry has immense potential and we want those employed in the handicraft industry to become self-sufficient. So we are trying to host as many fairs as possible to help market their products,” said Debnath. Oficials of the state export promotion society and Biswa Bangla were also present at the event.

On the opening day, the ground was uneven and the rain had left it slushy. The organisers promised to tend to it and the artisans too were optimistic. “I take part in this fair every year and see great sales. I don’t know much about New Town but the authorities are trying hard and I’m hopuful,” said Babita Banerjee, selling leather bags.

The fair is open from 1pm to 8.30pm till December 10 and entry is free. Here are 10 items to look out for at the expo-

Leather trucks and animals

The stall has piggy banks in Santiketan leather style shaped like trucks, autos, cycles — anything but pigs! “I try to introduce new designs as children look for them,” says Pathikrit Ghosal, the artisan who is a resident of Jadavpur. The banks have buttons at the bottom to take out the money.

At another stall, Babita Banerjee sells leather coin bags shaped like cats, frogs, butterflies and pandas.

Where: Kolkata Kollolini pavilion

Price: Rs 250-300 for the piggy banks; Rs 60 for the coin bags.

Wooden bangles

These inch-thick bangles are made of pine wood and have folk and tribal motifs on them — right from Jamini Roy and Warli art to Aztec and Inca designs.

“The wood has been given special treatment so it stays unharmed even if it gets wet and the colour won’t fade even under the harsh sun,” says Sangita Das, who has made them.

Where: Kolkata Kollolini pavilion

Price: Rs 150

TAKING THEIR PICK: Visitors throng the handicraft fair on Sunday. Pictures by Mayukh Sengupta

Rose-shaped hairpins

“These big roses are woven out of crochet. They come with single pins as well as U-pins, to hold up different kinds of hair buns,” said Alpana Saha of Bagmari, who has created the designs for the first time. The roses come in colours like blue, green and red-and-white.

Where: Kolkata Kollolini pavilion

Price: Rs 50

Personalised sculpture

If your wife has decided to roam the fair all evening and you are a tad bored, you could sit before this artiste who would sculpt your portrait in a matter of hours. “Four hours is the minimum duration for a face’s sculpture on clay. But if you give me four months I shall make a full-length life-size fibre statue of yours,” says Pradip Dey, who has come from Kumartuli. In the picture, Dey has posed with a sculpture of himself.

Where: Kolkata Kollolini pavillion

Price: Rs 1,000 for a four-hour sculpture of the face. Rs 1,20,000 for a full-length figure.

Sea shell Durga

This installation of Durga and her family is by a winner of the state-level handicraft competition from East Midnapore. It uses shells of different sizes and textures and some are painted over.

Where: Karubhasha pavilion

Price: Rs 10,500

Kathakali dancer of seeds

This bright image of a Kathakali dancer has been made of seeds, by an artiste from Hooghly who is a winner in the state-level handicraft competition.

Where: Karubhasha pavilion

Price: Rs 5,000

Triple-layered saris

“3D saris are the flavour of the season,” said Joydeb Garai, who has come from Bankura. “This is the trade name for saris that project three differnt colours — on the top, in the middle and at the bottom.” Such saris are available especially in Baluchari, tussar and gicha silks.

Where: Bankura pavilion

Price: Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000

Rickshaw sculpture

Among beautiful sculptures of Buddhas and Ganeshas, stands out a 2ft x 1.5 ft figurine of a hand-drawn rickshaw. “This was a made-to-order piece for a customer but when I realised there’s steady demand for this I started making replicas,” said Kamal Das of Budge Budge. The fibre piece has a coat of melamine for glaze and is washable.

Where: In the open stalls

Price: Rs 6,500

Colourful tools

Take home a set of moras with deep maroon cushions if you want elegance. And take home a set of differently coloured tools if you’re looking to add a fun element to your living room. “The cushions have velvet covers and the cane base has exquisite craftsmanship,” says Rabi Das, the artisan from Baghajatin. He also has chairs with triangle-shaped seats. 

Where: In the open stalls

Price: Rs 850 to Rs 1000 for the tools

Gamchha vases

Look closely and you’ll notice that the print on this vase is that of a gamchha. “Instead of simply painting on these burnt-clay vases, I have managed to stick sheets of gamchcha on them. Then on that chequered background I have fabric-painted designs,” said says the artisan Sangita Das.

Where: Kolkata Kollolini pavilion

Price: Rs 250 for an 8-inch vase