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Making of Channapatna ToysI visited Channapatna along with two other photographers with the intention of seeing how they make wooden toys. Channapatna is en route to Mysore from Bangalore. Having traveled on that route many times, I have seen wooden toys being sold by the highway. However, I have never actually seen them being made. We managed to locate a factory that still employs fairly traditional tools to make these toys by hand.

Sri Beereshwara Arts and Crafts wooden toy factoryWe were welcomed into the factory, and asked to wait. As the board says, the factory is open to public and anyone can walk in to see a demo. However, there was a power cut at that time, so we were waiting in their showroom which is also inside the factory.

Inside a wooden toy making factory

We spent some time shooting the empty workbenches, while the artists were hanging around outside waiting for electricity to be restored. The workbenches were completely filled with wooden debris. This actually made the entire setting very interesting.

Hand tools in a toy factory
Hand tools to make wooden toys

Once the power was back, the artists slowly started their work. Most of them were quite old, and seemingly very experienced.

Artist making wooden toys
There is a electric lathe constantly running. The toy maker attaches a block of wooden and uses sharp tools to bring out various shapes. He also uses gummy lacquer to bring color and shine to the finished product.

Using a lathe to shape toys
Applying lacquer by hand
The toy maker first carves, then sandpapers a wooden vase. He finally inspects it before it is sent to be painted.

Making a wooden toy vase
Some of the toys go through a round of spray painting. This happens up stairs. Notice the big exhaust fan? It is to suck the harmful spray paint away from the worker’s face.

Coating a wooden vase with spray paint
During the tea break, one of the workers took us to another area of the workshop. Here, we saw a person hand painting wooden vases. He demonstrated great skill in free hand painting. It was quite mesmerizing to watch!

Handpainted wooden vases
Painting of toy vases by hand

After having spent a good amount of time, we had a word with the proprietor. We learnt that the art of wooden toy making is fast dying. As always, the reasons include penetration of the market by cheap Chinese imports, and lack of support from the government. Indeed, the huge hoarding on the highway that reads, “Welcome to Channapatna – the land of wooden toys” seems very out of place! Nevertheless, we were glad to see this factory still surviving. We thanked the owner and bid good bye.

Traditional wooden toy musicians
Round Wooden toys for kids

Shelf full of various wooden toys at Channapatna factoryI recently printed this series on Red River Aurora Art White paper. This is matte paper with very fine texture. The processing on these photographs look great on this paper. I’d love to show the prints to you in person.

Showing 37 comments
  • Laksh
    Reply

    So happy I stumbled on this! It’s beautiful, thought provoking and informative. I was curious about the toy making process and was wondering if it was worth a visit… Now, I will definitely take the trouble when I pass that way!

    Thank you; the pictures and your write up was a lovely experience.

  • Puja
    Reply

    Hi Pratap , 
     Your blog was quite informative , especially about the “Live demo” given in the factory . 
    I was planning a one day trip to Channapatna (would be starting from Bangalore on bike)  are there any things I should be prepared for? 
    Since I don’t the regional language will that be a barrier or should Hindi suffice while communicating with people there?

    • Pratap J
      Reply

      Hi Puja,

      You should be able to interact in Hindi. The workers don’t communicate much, but the owner is a friendly guy. Thanks for stopping by.

      Pratap

      • naveen kumar
        Reply

        hi pratap. am an architecture student from SPAV college. thanks for the valuable info. i would like to do a documentation on these toy making procedure, right from the raw wood to finished toy…i dnt know d regional language properly…so wud hindi/english/telugu can be mangaed there….? or any people speak these language der ?..how do the people react for having negotiation ??
        very much delighted to have a reply from you. thank you in advance

        • Pratap J
          Reply

          Hello Naveen,

          Yes, you can speak in Hindi. I am not sure about the bargaining aspect as we did not purchase anything.

  • naveen kumar
    Reply

    hi pratap. am an architecture student from SPAV college. thanks for the valuable info. i would like to do a documentation on these toy making procedure, right from the raw wood to finished toy…i dnt know d regional language properly…so wud hindi/english/telugu can be mangaed there….? or any people speak these language der ?..how do the people react for having negotiation ??
    very much delighted to have a reply from you. thank you in advance

  • Vinisha
    Reply

    Hi Pratap,
    Your pictures are wonderful and insprie a visit :).
    Would you please tell me how I can get to this place from the Bangalore Mysore Highway?
    Thank you in advance.

    • Pratap J
      Reply

      At the town of Channapatna, please ask for Beereshwara Toys. It is just off the highway.

  • Mahendra
    Reply

    Hi pratap,
    I am very happy to sèe the blog.
    If you can give me your contact no i would like to discuss few things with you on business

  • Vijay
    Reply

    hi pratap

    have a look at http://www.oodees.in

    a completely new spin to channapatna toys.

    we have brought in contemporary designs and come out with delightful toys and home accessories

  • Malati
    Reply

    Hi. My understanding is Channapatna toys are painted with natural vegetable dyes. From the article, it appears that this is not the case. Quite disturbed since I bought some of these toys as gifts for toddlers. I hadn’t realized they use chemical spray paint. Saddened that they have given up the old ways and the toys may now be toxic.

    • Vijay
      Reply

      malati

      ur correct.

      some local manufactures use synthetic sprays.

      please buy with reputed toy makers.

      have a look http://www.oodees.in

  • seema
    Reply

    hey, Pratap, myself Seema Awasthi  a craft designer .i’m searching for some local channapatna toys artisans to provide them sustainable platform, from their they will be able to sell out their exquisite crafted products…if u have any contact no regarding same plz share with me. 

    • Vijay
      Reply

      seema

      we are interested.

      we work with artisans.

      like to talk 9986418515

    • Shujath
      Reply

      Hello Miss Seema.

      There are numerous toy manufactures in Channapatna town. I’m a Law student at Law centre-II,Delhi University and I belong to Channapatna town. If you can drop me you mail id on Syedshujathmehdi@gmail.com i’ll be able to help you provide contact details of few of the Toy makers in channapatna. Thank you. 

  • Vinodh
    Reply

    Hi I would like to source some toys for my child who is 4 months old. Can someone help me with my requirements.  Some help would be highly appreciated.  

    Thanks and regards

    Vinodh

    • Pratap J
      Reply

      You could visit Chanapatna to purchase toys.

  • Vijay
    Reply

    hi vinod

    you can buy OODEES toys on Amazon.

    check for OODEES on amazon.

    we are sure, you shall love our toys.

    • Lalitha
      Reply

      Hi Can i get the contact details of that factory. I want some things get done from them. 

      • Pratap J
        Reply

        Hi Lalitha, I don’t have the contact of the factory. Sorry.

  • vidushi
    Reply

    hey……..thank u so much for sharing this information…..i am design student and i am working on a project on channapatna toys….it turned out to be really helpful .
    if possible can i get the address of this factory…i want to visit it since i want to collect information for my project…..also if u have a number do share it as soon as possible.

  • Dr Malavegowda RN
    Reply

    Hi Pratap,I being a native of Channapatna thank you personally and on behalf of Channapatna people for your efforts in portraitng the toys of Channapatna.Re-recognition of these toys is need of the hour as there is a lot of competition from cheaper China make toys.So many families still live on this home industry and finding difficulty in marketing,state and central govts should take some steps in protecting and promoting these kind of home industries.
    Your photography is super and perfect.
    Thanks once again,
    Dr Malavegowda RN
    Ortho surgeon.

    • Pratap J
      Reply

      Thank you doctor!

    • Arpitha Rao
      Reply

      Dear Sir,

      Since your from the same place.. Can i get the information/Address where we can buy the best toy for doll show. If you have any contact information. Please do share with us.

      Thanks & Regards,
      Arpitha.

      • Pratap J
        Reply

        If you visit Chanapatna, there are several places that sell the toys.

  • Samruddhi Kadolkar
    Reply

    Hello Sir, Your blog was very informative as i am working on a research project about Channapatna Toy making…and was looking for some interesting things related to the toy making. Your “visual explanation” was indeed very helpful to me. Thanks once again.

  • Prathap Ghorpade
    Reply

    Hi Pratap,

    I along with my family are planning to trip to Channapatna to purchase wooden toys for our daughter. I went through your blog and found “Beereshwara Toys” to be the place to where I need to go. Can you please share location details of this place. I am not able to find this place on google maps. I am planning to travel this weekend and I am starting from Bangalore.

    Thanks,
    Prathap

    • Pratap J
      Reply

      Unfortunately I don’t have the location details. Channapatna is a small town. You could ask for directions to “Beereshwara Toys” once you are there. The factory is not very far from the highway.

  • Ram
    Reply

    Hi Pratap,

    I am doing Toys retail business. am interested to purchase channapatna toys.
    do we have wholesaler’s in channapatna.
    can you give some contact details.

    • Pratap J
      Reply

      Yes there are. If you can visit Channapatna you can speak to the manufacturers directly.

  • karan patel
    Reply

    hello pratap ji..
    muje ee sab toys kharidne hai..
    lekin muje directly jo middle class log banate hai unse kharidna hai..
    taki me unhe kuch help kar saku and mje har 3 mahine me order dena hai…
    mera number 7405743998, 7874404446

  • sandhya
    Reply

    i want a pair man and woman wooden dolls for my show case . Where can i get it ?

    • Pratap J
      Reply

      Try the Cauvery emporium in Bangalore.

  • bhavana
    Reply

    Hi,I am Bhavana a faculty with interior design college.I could like to visit this factory along with my students to give them an understanding of toy making craft.If you could be really helpful if you provide me the factory information to my email id – bhavana.murli4@gmail.com

    • pixelshooter
      Reply

      Hello Bhavana. Please visit Channapatna and ask for Beereshwara Toy Factory.

  • Niranjan K Mendon
    Reply

    Hello Mr. Pratap, First of all I would like to thank you for exploring the beautiful toy world to all of us.
    I heard that in recent days Toy industry of Chennapatna is dying becoz of the market domination from the chineese toys which is avavlibale at cheaper rate when compare to Channapatna toys.
    Hence it is our responsibilities to support this industry for the its survival.
    Thank you again for educating us.

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