After the tribes of Odisha, jewellery designer Gina Joseph looks to leather puppeteers for inspiration
CHENNAI-based Gina Joseph’s final project for her arts management programme at DakshinaChitra, featured temple architecture-inspired necklaces — Salabanjikas, Mada-nikas and Darpansundaris — fortunately they also set her on track as a jewellery designer. “The starting point of my collection was images from the book, Woman in Indian Sculpture by ML Varadpande,” begins the jewellery designer, who with the support of the Crafts Council of India, held jewellery making workshops with the Dokra Damar tribe in Orissa and puppetry artistes in Andhra Pradesh two weeks ago.
Retailing under the brand, Zola (meaning ‘a piece of earth’ in Italian), since April, Joseph says it is all about enhancing and creating sustainable livelihoods for rural artisans, particularly women. Having recently launched two collections — Tholu Bommalata (crafted by the puppetry artistes) and Toda (inspired by the tribal art in the Nilgiris), she adds, “I conducted a workshop in Nimmala Kunta in Anantapur district, one of the main centres for leather puppets. The main focus of the workshop was bringing in the designs, colours, shapes and forms of the traditional craft into jewellery design. The transparency and durability of the leather makes it perfect for statement necklaces and colourful earrings,” says Joseph, adding, “I worked with puppeteer Khande Anjappa whose family has been making puppets for generations. They date back to 300 years and have been really helpful,” she says.
Expect themes like Dasavatharam and floral designs on her jewellery. The 31-year-old has also fashioned jewellery with wood, papier mâché, dokra, patachitra, betel nut and even polang seeds. As for her future projects, Joseph will be working with the Aranmula tribes in Kerala.
Toda necklace starts from Rs.2,000 and puppet jewellery from Rs.400. Details: facebook.com/zolaindia/info
— Mrinalini Sundar