Rural Kerala Potters add French touch to make exquisite gifts

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Kochi, Oct 14 (UNI) Next time you are hunting for an exclusive anniversary gift for your parents, e-mail their wedding photograph to the Integrated Rural Technology Centre (IRTC) in Palakkad, where potters will transfer the picture onto an exquisite terrocotta pot to make a memorable memento.

About 70-odd potters living in the rural areas of Palakkad district of Kerala have been trained in the past three years in the French decorative art of ''decoupage'' (decorative cut-outs) by the IRTC, an NGO supported by the Kerala Shastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP) and the Union Department of Science and Technology.

''We have been imparting the three-day training module to the potters, including women, through a group of professional artists.

This has helped them to transfer their ordinary pots into exquisite art pieces with paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci embossed on them,'' Dr Lalthiambika, Project Coordinator, IRTC, told UNI here.

The decorative pottery has found a good market in places such as Mumbai and efforts were now on to take the artefacts to 'Dilli Haat' in the national capital, she said.

The IRTC provides technical and marketing assistance to the potters, who are now able to earn anything between Rs 100 to Rs 300 per day, depending on their skill. The work is available to them almost throughout the year, Dr Lalithambika, said.

The IRTC has put up a stall at the ongoing ''Swasraya Bharath 2007' exhibition here, organised by the Swadeshi Science Movement, as part of the National Self-Reliance Week Celebration from October nine to 15.

The decorative pottery, priced around Rs 150 to Rs 175, was sold well. Especially popular were pieces with known Raja Ravi Varma paintings such as 'Shakuntala with the Swan' and Da Vinci's Mona Lisa on them.

Adding a personal touch to the artefacts, the potters can also put family portaits or personal photographs given by the buyers on to the pots. These were particularly popular as gift items in Mumbai, Dr Lalithambika said The technique of ''decoupage'' involves pasting laser stencils of the pictures onto the pots and then painting over them.

''The potters have been able to master this technique and were able to skillfully transfer the picture on to the surface of the pottery, which is made especially smooth for the purpose. The painting of pots is a delicate task, as the colours have to blend in perfectly,'' she added.

Thus, an exclusive gift for a buyer is also a helping hand for an artisan.

UNI

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