Sunil and Padmaja Jalihal, founders of Indic Inspirations, have found a unique way to try and breathe life back into the art of wooden toys.

By giving a contemporary vision to a traditional craft, they are making Channapatna merchandise exclusively for the Indian Research and Space Organisation (ISRO).

The initiative is a ‘win-win-win’ — tracing the history of ISRO while empowering artisans with better livelihood and introducing Channapatna to the citizens of India.

Close to 400 artisans are associated with the organisation, of which 40 are directly involved in Channapatna toys.

Indic has a collection of 50 ISRO-themed products, which include jigsaw puzzles, rocket models, t-shirts, DIY models, mugs, stickers, board games, etc. ISRO’s historic missions, such as Mangalayaa and Chandrayaan, have also been incorporated into the designs.

One board game is about collecting resources on Earth to set up a colony on Mars via a rocket.  Every product informs the buyers about ISRO’s operations,” says Sunil. The response of ISRO products has been interesting, says Sunil.

“People mostly talk about NASA. So when we launched ISRO collectables, we saw a pent up demand from space and technology enthusiasts, as well as children.”

Indic works with Fairkraft Creations, an organisation comprising Channapatna artists, and gives them designs. Noorulla, one of the master craftsmen with Fiarkraft, has been making Channapatna toys for the last 30 years.

He has witnessed the downfall of the craft, his co-workers switching to a different line of profession, and the sudden rise in demand for Channapatna.

What makes Channapatna unique is the lacquer made from vegetable dyes, with which these toys are coated.

The artists do not use any non-toxic colours or raw materials, thus making the toys safe for children.