Hyderabad: The All India Crafts Mela at Shilparamam has been taking a number of measures to sustain itself in an ever-changing world. A team of handloom and handicraft designers from the centre is studying market trends and advising weavers and craftsmen on their products.
The team which is based in Bengaluru and New Delhi gives inputs to the government department which are passed on to the craftsmen months in advance and the best trends are brought to Shilparamam.
Usually its the handloom and junk jewellery which stands out and is also the most sought-after in the festival season. For this reason, there are about 150 handloom stalls and 27 junk jewellery stalls which provide a wide range to choose from and also to bargain.
The crafts mela has wood work in small and large designs which are popular. This year, craftsmen from Karnataka, Odisha and Assam have got large wood work designs which are in demand.
On the second day, December 16, a huge wood carving was sold at the festival for Rs 1 lakh. This is being seen as a good start for the festival. Mr Kishan Rao, special officer, Shilparamam said, “We give a prize every year to the stall that sells the highest products. This is one way to motivate them and ensure that there is something different and also attractive at the festival.”
With the onset of the marriage season, the crafts mela has had a lot of people flocking to buy exclusive gifts which would be different from what is available at the stores. With the festival going on for the last twenty years, there is now a renewed effort to ensure that there are products which are different and also trending in the market to attract different customers.
This has now become the main thrust of the festival as the price compared to the market price is 20 per cent less. After doing away with middlemen, the government is now focussing on providing trendy products which people see online and even in offline stores.
Shilparamam has an internal team as well, that studies the online market price and accordingly guides the artisans to fix prices which are reasonable. However, bargaining is one chance that no customer should miss at Shilparamam as it will definitely be value for money.
While the festival is a great platform for all kinds of art, the entry for artists is limited as only those who have the Development Commissioner Handicrafts or Handlooms (DCH) cards are allowed.
Regularly, Shilparamam has around 250 to 300 stalls, but, during the festival there are more than 500 stalls. The highlight are the award winning craftsmen, who come with their work and are most sought after as they also get special orders to deliver products later.
Ms K. Priyanka, a regular at the fair for five years, explained, “Antiques are cheaper if bargained for hard. In handlooms too, people can find that there are items, which are cheaper here than in Jaipur market.”
The variation can be seen in the other art items in the market as well, according to a Bidri Artist. The normal Bidri art product, for example a medium-sized flower vase, would cost Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,000 by the time an artisan finishes the work in his hands, but that would go up to Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 at the end of the day, when it reaches the customer. But, at the fair, the artist can sell directly to the customer.
Utilising the platform, many young artisans are expanding their reach for eco-friendly hand-made items. Ms Sanskriti Bhagat and her partner, from Madhya Pradesh, who were newcomers at the crafts mela, mentioned that they were here with Baatik Scarves, which are special to their state, where melted wax is used for drawing patterns on them. They were also selling many eco-friendly items such as books and candles, which are prepared by a small group of people in their native state.
Another member, Mr M.D. Rahman, from West Bengal, mentioned that he has had a stall at the festival since the last 15 years and has been selling jute bags of various kinds, for which their state is quite famous....