I discovered Studio Bommai long time ago while browsing through Etsy and it was such an eclectic find. Ambika the lady who paints these dolls is an alumnus of NID Ahmedabad is also an illustrator for children’s books. She is the co-founder of an independent publishing venture, Yali Books, that showcases the diversity and richness of South Asian cultures. Bommai is the Tamil word for Dolls and she calls these Art Dolls.
“Studio Bommai began as a hobby. I was trying to build a collection of dolls for a Golu display for Navaratri and my initial experiments with clay and paper were quite spectacularly unsuccessful. I live in Upstate New York and my access to traditional Indian dolls is quite limited, as you can imagine. My search for the perfect doll medium led me to the wooden Japanese-inspired Kokeshi doll and I fell in love with the possibilities of painting on wood. “
“I started listing my dolls on Etsy just to get some feedback. Honestly, my first sale astonished me! I haven’t looked back since. Etsy is a great place for small artisans. The back-end tools are so easy to use and the community of sellers is warm, friendly and very knowledgeable. I also enjoy the quick-and-dirty way Etsy lets me test new ideas for a reasonable listing fee. I would highly recommend anyone thinking of starting a handmade or vintage business to check out Etsy. “
“Each doll begins as a blank wooden shape, which I purchase from wholesalers and other Etsy sellers. I sand, coat these shapes with a primer, and then sketch each design by hand. I use non-toxic acrylic paints and a non-toxic sealant to finish each piece. These steps are spread out over many days to allow for different layers to set and dry completely. I haven’t really kept track of the time it takes to complete a piece, honestly. They are a labor of love! “
“I love mythology, which is reflected in some of my creations. I am a devotee of the Devi, so each Devi avatar is crafted with deep devotion to the Goddess. I am still learning something new everyday about the amazing diversity of cultures in India and the larger South Asian region. Our land, our people and their stories continue to inspire my work”
Etsy is a truly wonderful place. Some of the dollmakers I admire are – Kokeshi Clan (Shop – temple7e), Marcela (Shop – MagicWool), Ana Bossa (Shop – Murtiga) and Adatine (Shop- Adatine). And one more – Barrantundo. Of course, there are so so many more fantastic makers on Etsy.
If you wish to purchase these beautiful lovely Indian dolls check out Studio Bommai’s Etsy Store here
And here is to upcoming Valentine’s day celebrating our multi cultural , diverse spirit of love .