Sponge has become a sought-after medium among artistes in dressing up the floats for the pageantry organised in the capital on Monday to bring the curtains down on the Kerala Tourism’s state-level Onam celebrations.

In the 85-odd floats in the 2009 edition of the pageantry, sponge has been used extensively compared to the conventional plywood, thermocol and other medium normally used for making the floats. Sponge is an effective medium as it can be given bright colours enough to grab the attention of viewers who throng the road.

It was reputed artiste C.B. Jinan who was instrumental in using sponge in the floats for the pageantry in the 1990’s. The other artistes who are now engaged in dressing up the floats on the themes given by the departments are following the footsteps of Jinan.

‘The flexibility to work with and the attention it can grab is unmatched while using sponge. Bright colours need to be used as the floats move along from the starting point often after the sunset’, says Shyli Radhakrishnan who got the opportunity to prepare the float of Thiruvananthapuram City Corporation and that of a jewellery.

The sponge is also less time consuming compared to other medium, he adds. While sponge had been used to convey the disaster and create a huge butterfly for the City Corporation, the artiste had used plywood as the base in the other to showcase the rulers of erstwhile Travancore.

The floats designed by other artistes for the Kerala State Literacy Mission, Keltron, Farm Information Bureau and Priyadarshini planetarium had substantial use of sponge.

Jinan’s dexterity with sponge and plywood was reflected in 14 floats. “I was approached by 18 firms to prepare floats this year, we took the order only from nine this year’, says Jinan, who had also bagged the gold medal four times for creating Kerala Pavilion at India Trade Fair in New Delhi.

The Golden Peak resort of KTDC in Ponmudi, to be unveiled later this month, had a huge tiger and landmark gate of museum of Department of Museum and Zoo, huge crows of Nemom Block panchayat, Thrissur pooram of Steel Industrial Forgings and Vegetable basket of State Horticultural Mission created by Jinan, Binu Haridas and their colleagues were eye-catching.

Each float, which costs Rs. one lakh, is the hard work of a dedicated team of designer, carpenter, welder, spray painter and electrician. “We commenced the work in Balaramapuram 20 days ago. It was a round-the-clock work for 40 odd workers. All the nine floats were moved to Tagore theatre premises two days ago and finishing touches were given to them’, says Subash, who is working with Jinan for the last 10 years.

The inclement weather in the capital for the last few days was the biggest hurdle for those behind dressing up the floats for the various government departments, public sector undertakings, cooperative institutions and others.