Toy story.

Other day I was having a conversation on recent ban on China toys, suddenly someone questioned, who is a toy designer? I recalled my post graduation days, when I was doing specialization in Toy design. Everyone thought it would be like making soft toys. It took long for me to explain that a toy designer does not make only soft toys or toys for babies. There is much more to explore, when we use the word TOY.

Apart from sewing soft toys, a toy designer works with many materials – wood, plastic, metal, rubber, bamboo, steel, paper and natural materials (like weeds, leaves, flowers) etc. If the material possibilities are not limited, then how the possibilities of areas could be?
It could be designing toys for sports, fun and education, special children, for teenagers, for adults (Sex toys!), toys for corporate (team building etc), stress busters, meditation and exercises, and even toys for old age people.

It could be anything from a social initiative to a fun filled activity to source of money.
And mind it designing a good toy is far more difficult than designing consumer goods. Money once spent on a gadget will not make you throw it even without using it. But if a toy is not attractive and not able to capture the attention of child; s/he might not play with at all.

Why there is URGENT need.
In early 2009, a lawsuit was filed by Consumer welfare of India on the basis of finding lead (and occurrence of Lead Poisoning*) in Chinese toys. India has banned the Chinese toy imports for six months. And as China was one of the major importers of toys this is going to provide Indian toy maker ample opportunities to take Indian toy industry at a different level. The global turnover of toy market was above $110 billion in year 2007 where China has 35,000 crore global market share where as India stands nowhere with 700 crore.
BUT China has grabbed 60 per cent of the domestic toy market. So are we ready? Can we grab this opportunity and show the world, our talent and skills to make these toys? It’s a difficult one. We have a Toy city in Greater Noida, we have many localized toy makers (Wooden toys from Uttarpradesh, Karnakta) but we need more conscious toys makers. Who takes this challenge and make toy more child’s friendly.

Let’s make a Toy Plan!
Being a country with a lot of diversities, we have a lot to offer when it comes to designing. One should just target one area from making toys for edutainment to fun to ecological and the possible ideas will come out by own.

Use of recyclable material, natural colors and more eco-conscious will not make a toy buyer happy but also keep a child healthier and happier.
There is one such cool example of greener toy- Fastronauts – Powered by Play

After all, what fun is a toy if you can’t play with it?

Crafty Story – 1

Craft is such subject that how much you explore will make you more inquisitive. It opens the vision to look beyond the current lifestyles and takes you to the tradition where it evolved to how it reaches to other cultured areas. India is full of crafts. Just like there are endless traditions to follow, there are lots of crafts to do. That gives customer a wide variety to choose from. And if taking about Indian craft the best place to buy at one place; none other than India’s very own Dilli Haat.

There is a fair ongoing – Savan saras, 2006 with crafts from all states of India. There were awesome toys collection made of wood, paper, coconut & jute etc. But today I am just fascinated with paper.

papier mache pots.

Paper is such a versatile material that how much you appreciate it is less. The history of paper is very old; originated from papyrus and in between somewhere comes the papier-mâché. It’s a french word means chewed paper. Through at times textiles, wood grains or all-purpose floor etc can be use too. This art originated in China, no exact years are defined but patented by Henry Clay of Birmingham, U.K. It was one of the common techniques to make puppets, dolls in 19th century. And till date it is an appealing craft to entertain children.

After all paper is one of first composite material that’s used to make strong structure. I was surprised to know there were paper boats that really floated in river. (Not our childhood days paper boats)Yes, Paper canoe that was hit in 1800 in America. Paper strips are added by using glue or other way is making a papier-mâché paste by using one part water in one part flour. Or at times by adding diluted glue and using different moulds to get a shape. Paint, decorations or varnishing happens when it get dried.

Lamp shades A mask -papier mache.

This way the creation of a papier-mâché object can be divided into two distinct categories 1.Sakhtsazi (making the object) and 2. Naqashi (painting the surface).

So how did this amazing craft reach to India, that too paradise of earth (Kashmir). Sultan Zain-ul-Adidin was the person behind bringing it to the valley in 15th century. Kashmir is famous for papier-mâché intricate painted tiny boxes and huge vases.

The colors used for it are obtained by grinding and soaking various vegetable mineral dyes in pigment or stone form. Evergreen patterns in papier-mâché are sparkling running streams, lotuses blooming in Dal Lake, green fields contrasting with white snow capped mountains, tiny songbirds perch & nest and other colorful floral designs. Gold, silver are also used to make big articles.

Dolls and much more.

This craft is also practice in other part of India, like in Kerala for making huge Kathkali masks, in Odisha to depict the deities so in Gwalior (Mandhya Pradesh) for largely making the toys. A differentiating difference can be seen in products made in tribal parts and the people who use wooden mould to do papier-mâché. It gives fine finishing as compare to products made by giving shape through hands.

Palki- traditional mode (a ritual) for carrying indian bridal after marriage.

And what papier-mâché do offer, a range of souvenir to gift on Christmas, and on other occasion from light weight toys to bright and appealing boxes & vases. And painting style on each object will tell the story from where it is coming. There is so much to cherish with this brilliant craft which has no definitive way to do still anyone can make awesome articles with little bit understanding and unlimited imagination.

Papier mache animals!

* This is series of post on Indian crafts & toys made by using paper, wood, cloths etc.
** All Photos taken by me are from Dili haat’s different stalls.

All about Top!

Now a day I am seeing lots of articles on history of football and the interesting post on clothes peg.

So I also thought of writing on something specific like – spinning top- it was extremely popular at certain phase now it lost its charm and replaced by other similar kind of toys like BeybLades. But before writing anything I am just missing my friend, who used to be literally ‘mad’ about tops. Even she designed few tops in her academic years.
I watched an awesome film by Charles Ray on Tops.

Charles Ray TOP filmLight emitting TopsMagnetic topsKeychain top

It was awesome short film; starts with spinning the tops to all tops stopping.

The history of tops is so old that the exact period is unknown. Might be it was invented by rotating a sharp pointed stone or something like that. Or just took the inspiration from the earth and other objects in space that turn around their axis. That’s different it is one of the earliest toy that patented in USA. There were interesting stories about tops in 1800-1900 time. If people in India call it ‘lattu’ then in Chinese its called Da-bo-gai and Thai calls it by Too-loo name. Check this page of language.
Even different countries have own preferences over types of tops like the large plunger top in America. And in Europe whipping top was more popular. It spun by hitting it with a lash or whip. The peg top is spun by winding a string around the top and throwing the top to unwind the string and make the top spin.So are the
tops which gives special effects while spinning like -Light, sound, colors, drawing, round or elliptical motion, pieces come out, lifting and optical illusions.Beside spinning around tops has been used for gambling, prophecy and some gamers use it as a dice for generating random results.
The action of top is because of the gyroscopic effect for its operation.
Precession of Spinning Top

Typically the top will at first wobble until the shape of the tip and its interaction with the surface force it upright. After spinning upright for an extended period, the angular momentum, and therefore the gyroscopic effect, will gradually lessen, leading to ever increasing precession, finally causing the top to topple in a frequently violent last thrash.

Some more interesting facts there is top museum in Wisconsin, USA. And Mr. Chang Tai-Yuan is World Top Record Holder! Hall Graham spun a spinning top for 2 hours 52 minutes 11 seconds before its rim made contact with the ground, at Woodstock High School, Georgia, USA, on December 18, 1998.And if you already like top and good in spinning you would be happy to know about International Top spinners association. Browse this to know the tricks that you can do with your new spinning top! And yes, 11 October is world Top spinning day

Toys for tomorrow.

What does a toy means in simple words – A toy which brings joy on the face, toys that makes the person to play with it. Remember the days when you were child, what kind of toys you possess. Every country, cultures have own special toy or fables associated with it. That have very own charm. Just like if you think of your toys collection, you could come up with own world; made of several stories with vivid characters. Ahh, what were those toys, so good!
Good, what does a ‘Good toy’ means? That have more play value or expensive with good quality. Well, I would say a good toy would be that make a child to play with it again & again without getting bore. That could give! a new possibility to smile, learn & observe every time you play with it. Same time it has the power that it not allow to rule over the kid’s fantasy. A good toy could make a child empower enough to cope up with real life. Again, what does ‘good toys’ means? Should it be simple so that children could also make and low-cost so that people could afford it.

Good toys means loosing up the imagination while playing. But what if there are good toys but no more good children to play with it. What I mean, with too much exposure to media, TV, and internet children loosing their innocence far quickly and that’s making them mature fast in terms of emotions and intellect and they are no longer willing to play with toys. Who is responsible other than media etc. Isn’t soc! iety, family plays a major role in children upbringing. After all so m any factors are responsible like, children’s situation in today’s family (Nuclear), Children relation to new technologies & media, children & consumerism and all factors related to child care & play. And play with toys has a major role in child-child, adult- child relation and child’s relation with its environment. This way children and parents need to spend more toys. Awareness among teachers to understand the importance of toy and play. Requirement of proper environment for that like play space. Otherwise what the use, child will hardly play with those toys and switch back to television. Or finishing off the homework on time is the best way to please parents, teachers and in all this forgetting about the importance to play.

Seriously today’s children life become so much Mechanical kind and that ‘tomorrow’ is not far away when there would be hardly difference left between a child and a robot. Introducing some good toys that really make them feel like to p! lay as well as making their parents, teachers understand the importance of ‘Good-playing, good-living’. That could connect them to their families, society and environment. That could bridge the difference and make the life much more playful by telling their parents, teachers how a good toy helps in improving the observational skills, creativity and leading to more intellectual level. Because toys are not merely objects of consumption but also important for the overall development of a child.