Traveling Begonias

Bringing the world to you one artifact at a time

Kate in Toyland

IndiaKate BegoniaComment

Today we headed to Channapatna, about 90 minutes from Bangalore. This village is known for the manufacture of wood crafts. Today they were working on toys; the types of toys any parent has seen a hundred times over. The wooden duck your kid pulled around when they were 2? Likely made here. That abacus you paid too much for at Pottery Barn? Quite possibly their product. Spinning tops, key chains, toy instruments...yep, yep, yep. Many of us don't realize when we see something stamped, "Made in India" that in all likelihood someone actually hand made it, they didn't just operate a big machine that spit out identical wooden objects, they actually put elbow grease and artistry into making it.

The site itself is pretty unassuming. In fact I wasn't sure anyone was there when we pulled up.


Inside, 8-10 men worked in relatively tight quarters on a variety of toys.


The wood they use is a type of white pine that grows in the area. The men source the wood and bring it to the workshop themselves.


They each have their own specialty and churn those out.

This man specializes in small boxes which he forms on the lathe and then hand carves detail into each one.

While he does work quickly, each embellishment is unique and precise.


The colors are added after carving. They use a type of crayon made from vegetable oil that they apply with the lathe which burnishes the color into the wood. This is the red "crayon:"


The finished products have a similar aesthetic but the details vary by artist.

The best part of today was the realization that our purchases supported these hardworking artists. I hope you guys like the toys and wooden handicrafts I bring back.