Maya Organic, India

The village of Neelasandra near Channapatna town, about 60 km from Bangalore, has a cluster of closely built houses. Every house has a porch. Under the porch women of the household sit on the floor and use a hand lathe to chisel wood from the Aale Mara tree into shape to make toy components.They colour the parts with lac, a natural resin, and polish them to a glossy finish. The components are then bought and assembled by toymakers. The women earn up to Rs 500 a day compared with Rs 70 eight years ago.Behind their rising income is a tale of revival. Channapatna is called the Toy Town of Karnataka. It has been making wooden toys – called lacware toys because they use lac – ever since Tipu Sultan, ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore, brought in artisans from Persia in the 18th century and thereby introduced the craft in India. For two centuries, the town produced mostly dolls for domestic consumption. The influx of Chinese toys battered its market and the town’s products were reduced to being souvenirs people would pick up when they stopped by on the way to Mysore.

However, the town’s fortunes are now turning around thanks to niche toymakers focused on lacware, e-commerce websites and designers who want to make these toys contemporary and popular again. The state government has also played its part, with the Karnataka Handicrafts Development Corporation providing marketing support to Channapatna artisans, who number around 2,000.

Maya Organic, a not-for-profit organisation, employs 60 artisans in Channapatna and sources components from 40 others – a toy has at least 10 components. The company started exporting toys in 2004. It now sells about 80 per cent of its toys outside India – in Japan, Europe, the United States, South Africa and parts of Asia. 

How it's made

ALL OUR MAYA ORGANIC TOYS ARE:

Hand crafted
- Non toxic
- Coloured with natural vegetable colours.

Proudly presenting our most popular toy

HOW IT IS MADE

Maya Organic wooden toys are child-friendly, simple wooden toys made by skilled artisans from Channapatna, near Bangalore in southern India. The toys are manufactured to high-quality standards using the traditional lacware handicraft technique that has been used in India for over 200 years.
Everything starts with the Hale or rubber wood that is used for crafting all Maya Organic toys. This kind of wood is fast growing, comes from non-forest and agricultural land, and typically does not require the whole tree to be felled so that it grows back. What we also love about it is that any wood waste generated from the production like wood chips or wood dust are used as a raw material for the incense stick industry in Channapatna and surrounding areas, so nothing get’s wasted.
For the coloring process, Maya Organic uses Lac, a natural resin that is a non-toxic natural material secreted by microscopic tiny insects on a certain tree bark, which has been used in India for thousands of years. It requires no chemical treatment and is perfectly safe according to EN71 and ASTM standards.

For the yellow color, we use the root of the Turmeric plant, which is dried to make the powder. To get to the red color, we use the local Manjishta and Kanchi Kum Kum. For orange, we use Kanchi Kum Kum Powder, which is traditionally made by mixing turmeric and lime. Bluish-black and Bluish green comes from the Indigo Powder, which is being extracted from the indigo plant. For the Green color, we simply mix Indigo and Turmeric color.

The Lac tablets are heated on charcoal fire and melts. Once it’s melted, the different vegetable colors dyes are being added. After mixing it is kneaded and made into long rods and after that cut into small lac sticks before it hardens.

Once the wood piece is cut into the required length, it is fit on the lathe, using a chisel and various hand tools, to turn the wood into the shape needed. After being finely sand brushed, the lac is applied on the wood by pressing the lac stick of the desired color against the wood while turning the lathe.

Due to the frictional heat, the lac melts and gets applied to the wood.

The lac coating is then evenly spread and polished to a shiny gloss finish using a dry screwpine leaf. This whole process is also referred to as Lac-turnery.

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