Lac, a material taken from insect resin, has been used in Indian craft for centuries. Coloured lacquer is applied to wood by heat through turning with a hand lathe. In the process, the artisan maneuvers the lacquered colors to create patterns by hand in kaleidoscopic designs. This form of lacquered patterning is found only in Kachchh.
The Vadhas are a nomadic community that moved throughout Kachchh through villages like Nirona and Jura. They collected natural stones and colors from forests, created lacquer goods, and bartered them with the Maldhari community, who they had close ties with.
The descendants of these Vadha artisans now are permanently settled in Kachchhi villages. There are only a few traditional lacquer artisan families continuing the craft in Kachchh, and they are challenged socioeconomically. Now, they depend on the tourist market for seasonal sales, and buy their natural resources on the open market rather than finding them in the environment.
The entire family is involved in lacquer work and they make beautiful wooden spoons, candle stands, bangle holders, etc using a hand operated lathe. The process is so eco-friendly and sustainable that all the materials are organic and locally sourced. The water-resistant resin is collected from the bark of a local tree, mixed with colours sourced from other natural sources and made into bars of coloured lacquer used in this process.
Lac turned wood is practiced using simple tools- a self-made lathe, a string attached to a bow, and sticks of coloured lac. Each lathe is demarcated by two iron rods which are bent toward each other fixed in the ground. The distance between them is dependant upon the length of wood the artisan is turning, the wood must be held firmly between the rods pointed ends. The artisan begins by carving the wood. Once the wood is carved into a product, artisans apply lac on the wood to create kaleidoscopic colour patterns on it, unique to Kachchh. Traditionally, the lacquer was colored with vegetable dyes. Now, artisans use brightly coloured chemical dyes
At Craft Canopy the Craft Artisans of Nirona would be guided through Government Schemes to establish small enterprises. The Brand Awareness would be created and this would help them in increasing their incomes and help in reviving their dying craft.