Five families in Oldpet area here are engaged in doll-making for a livelihood. For them, doll-making is not only an economic proposition but a passion. They have been mastering the craft of making the doll for more than three generations.
Though the doll business is seasonal like Navarathri and Vinayaka Chathurthi, the family members have to toil for the whole year to meet the demand from Khadi-Craft in Salem, Krishnagiri and Hosur and wholesale dealers in Mysore.
During the festive season, the family members work 18 hours a day to meet the demand.
K. Chengilakshmi told The Hindu that though the demand was seasonal, they have to toil throughout the year (except one month gap after Deepavali). Her husband K. Kumar and son K. Suresh are also engaged in the trade. Bulk buyers such as Khadi-Craft place orders in March/April. Once the orders are obtained, the procurement of raw materials begin.
Ms. Chengilakshmi said the dolls were made of clay, papier-mache (mix of powdered cigarette boxes with paste made of tapioca powder) and plaster of paris and cement.
Casting the die was a challenging task because it involved creativity and closer attention to detail, she added.
Die-making would take about four months and the drying process another one month. Painting of the idols would then begin. Clay idols were fast moving, particularly during Navaratri, Krishna Jayanthi and Vinayaka Chaturthi, she added.
She said this year special products were a set of Twelve Alwars (price ranging from Rs. 4,000), seven pieces of Parkadal (Rs. 2,000), Thirupathi Swings (Rs. 5,000) and Mysore Dhasera (Rs. 5,000).
As the doll-makers had to stock the finished products for months together, they appealed to the government to grant bank loans at concessional rate of interest, to be repaid at the end of the festive season.