Toys & Games Crafting
Wooden toy-making is a traditional craft of Uttar Pradesh, India. Bright and colourful lacquered toys are made by clusters of skilled craftsmen. According to the craftsmen, their ancestors specialized in ivory carving that enjoyed good patronage during the reign of the Mughal emperors and the British. After ivory was banned by the Government of India, they shifted to woodcarving. Wooden logs are sourced from nearby areas and the craftsmen now predominantly use wood from the eucalyptus tree. Pieces of wood are cut out from the logs according to the size of the toy that is to be made. Each piece is heated slowly to remove all the moisture from the wood. This process is time-consuming. The piece is sanded in order to smoothen its surface. The wood is either hand-carved or shaped using lathe. In hand-carving, first the design of the toy is drawn on the wood. Then, the wood is sculpted with chisel and hammer according to the design. Once shaped, the surface of the toy is smoothened using a file and the toy is sent for painting. Toys are given several coats of paint, and finished with a clear or colored lacquer. Paint brushes made out of the hair from squirrel’s tail are used for painting fine lines. Lacquering may also be done on a lathe. For slender and delicate items, hand-lathe is preferred. A lac stick is pressed against the toy which is fixed to the lathe. While the toy keeps revolving, the heat generated by friction softens the lac, making it stick to the toy.