Fashion

Foliage Musa Kraft: bananas over baskets

Janani Karthika  

“My life changed with a gift I received in 2017. It was a letter box made of banana fibre”, says Janani Karthika. “It looked beautiful. I never knew such a product can be made from something that we can find in abundance locally. So I decided to try to make banana fibre products.”

Karthika is now the founder of the Pollachi-based Foliage Musa Kraft, which makes banana fibre products. The first basket that she made had a loose weave and an uneven finish and it took a month of trial and error before she made a woven dustbin that met her standards. “It started as a hobby and I used fibres of varying width resulting in a non-uniform weave. Though I checked online as well, it was only with a lot of patience and practice that I got it right.”

Baskets

Baskets  

Karthika first sold her baskets at an exhibition in Chennai. A good reception there gave her confidence to take it up as a full-time business. “I did more research on banana fibre and other products that can be made with it. Now, I have a small unit with six women to help me.” Karthika sells handbags, laundry bins, picnic baskets, magazine holders and dustbins. She makes things to order and says she buys banana fibre from the local market once in a month. “I use the outermost layers that are not edible. This way I am upcycling what would have gone to waste. The fibre is strong with a composition of cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin. It also absorbs moisture and is bio-degradable.”

She cuts the fibres into equal width and sundries them for 20 days. They are then soaked in a solution of fungicide for 30 minutes. “The fibre is woven before it dries completely to prevent breakage. This treatment helps increase the life of my products,” explains Karthika.

Basket

Basket  

In order to give structure to her products, Karthika uses steel frames. The fibres are woven and wound around the frames. The banana fibre is usually six feet long. “I need the fibre of one banana tree to make a medium-sized basket.” It takes around four days to make a laundry basket and around two days for a handbag. Some of her products also use leather and fabrics along with the banana fibre. She also supplies to traders from Erode, Salem and Chennai.

Price and Availability

Website: www.foliagemusakraft.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Foliagemusa/

Store: Woods Garden, RS Puram

The products are priced between ₹350 to ₹10000

Info you can use

If well looked after her products can last up to 20 years, she claims

The products should be kept away from excessive heat and moisture

Dragging the products on the floor can break the fibre and loosen the weave

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Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 10:58:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fashion/janani-karthika-handcrafts-handbags-baskets-bins-and-magazine-racks-with-the-banana-fibre/article23968219.ece

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