What do you get when hobby, passion, art and craft are blended painstakingly with terracotta? You get Maatikaar, one of the few most divine handcrafted, terracotta jewellery created by Delhi-based Vasanthi Meattle.
A post graduate in Science, an MSc in Physics, Vasanthi has donned many roles right from being a wife, a mother, working in a nationalized bank as a probationary officer to a science teacher at a public school in New Delhi before she started designing jewellery with terracotta beads sourced from various artists around the country. She also designs jewellery in terracotta and wood for Fab India and most of her terracotta jewellery have been showcased by various cottage emporiums at Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata.
How did it all begin?
With an initial investment of one lakh rupees, Maatikaar was born in 1999. A sense of boredom, plenty of time and armed with no formal training, Vasanthi embarked on a new journey of making jewellery from natural mediums.
“I have always liked to put unconventional beads into some form of jewellery or the other for personal wear. I would often redesign the few pieces of precious jewellery I had, much to the consternation of my ma-in-law! But of course, she was lot happier with me doing that than investing in matti ke gehene!” quips Vasanthi.
The first piece of jewellery that Vasanthi created was for herself; which was a mixture of terracotta and wooden beads. “An oval shaped ear ring with a brass frame having wooden beads all around and a central terracotta bead is by far my all time favourite,” she adds.
The terracotta beads are procured from artists from Kolkata and Karnataka. “I also use the skills of various artists from other places like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and some of the raw materials are from Old Delhi as well. I started by assembling every piece myself. But as Maatikaar grew in popularity, I employed young girls and women from under privileged backgrounds to help me and earn a bit for themselves,” mentions Vasanthi.
Getting into the Market
According to Vasanthi, she draws her inspiration from the feedback from her clients and visiting exhibitions showcasing hand made products. She even started her own exhibitions during Diwali and took up a kiosk space in a mall. This was when she got into mediums other than terracotta.
She further adds, “Later, I also opened a small outlet in New Delhi. But the killing rentals made us shut our retail outlets. Now, my children have opened a page for Maatikaar on Facebook and it’s going great guns from there. During our retail days, we developed a lot of dedicated customers and now we hope to do so through Facebook as well. The page is called Maatikaar-Terracotta Jewellery.”
Maatikaar with a Cause
Every year, Vasanthi is invited to take part in the Nature Bazaar organized by Dastkaar. Dastkaar is an NGO which promotes Indian crafts. “Some of its staff members had visited my stall at the Blind School Diwali Mela and invited me to participate in their annual exhibition the Nature Bazaar which used to be held in Dilli Haat earlier and now in Indira Gandhi Centre for Arts and Culture,” mentions Vasanthi.
They work with various craft groups and guide them with their design inputs as well as marketing skills. They hold exhibitions like the Nature Bazaar to help sale of their products. It is during the Nature Bazaar that you will find the artisans conducting small workshops showcasing their skills.
Vasanthi further adds, “I hold only two exhibitions annually, one at the Nature Bazaar in Delhi and the other for The Blind School Diwali Mela. The response at both places has always been tremendous!”
The Blind Relief Association is a school for the blind in Delhi and the Diwali Mela is an annual fund raiser event in which stalls are given out on rent. “I have been associated with them for more than a decade now. It’s an opportunity for showcasing my products to the cream of Delhi who visit this very popular mela and the rent from the stalls are used for the benefit of the blind,” adds Vasanthi.
While Maatikaar keeps creating their own designs on a regular basis, they also take orders from clients as well. The time taken depends on both the size and nature of the order but an average sized order takes about 10 days to make. These dreamy and carefully designed terracotta jewellery are priced at affordable rates from Rs. 40/- up to Rs. 5,000/-. If someone wishes to purchase these terracotta delights, they can contact Vasanthi through her Facebook page.
“Our jewellery images carry the price along with product codes. So when someone wants to pick up a piece, all they need to do is mention the code and we’ll tell them how and where to make the payment and subsequently we courier the piece to them,” adds Vasanthi.
If you’re wondering who all constitute the clientele at Maatikaar, Vasanthi happily replies, “We are proud to have sold our designs to the writer and activist Arundhati Roy, actress Nandita Das, singer Shubha Mudgal, dancer Geeta Chandran , lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan, TV anchor Sreenivasan Jain, amongst others.”
“Fine finish, light in weight, a good mix of contemporary and traditional designs and use of vibrant colours is probably our USP,” asserts Vasanthi. The paints used are acrylic and hence the piece if required can even be washed or wiped with wet cloth. The jewellery is all baked at high temperatures and being very light are not as brittle as one would expect terracotta to be. But one has to be a little careful with the bigger chunkier pieces.
Because of the traditional as well as contemporary designs, Maatikaar jewellery can be worn casually as well as during special occasions, like weddings or parties. Some of the traditional designs are inspired by the Nizam’s jewels! So when you wear them, you can keep people guessing as to what your jewellery is made of! These are designed in such a way that they compliment ethnic as well as western wear.
These exclusive jewellery designs that are inspired by the jewels of the Nizams of Hyderabad are recreated in terracotta with a metallic finish. “Here I must admit that these works of art are purely that of one of my artists and my input in these is only by way of suggestions of colours and other minor details,” says Vasanthi modestly.
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