Lounge Loves: Sari dolls by Anavila and pottery from Studio Ataash

Anavila Misra’s sari dolls are cuddly and body-positive in a folksy, wise, women-of-the-world way, while Ambika Shankar first learned pottery in Thailand


Sari dolls by Anavila

Designer Anavila Misra’s sari dolls evoke a bundle of emotions. The stab of nostalgia brings a smile to your face. They may remind you of mummy, aunty, maasi, didi, dadi or nani, or of the handmade dolls you learnt to sew and stuff in school craft classes if you were growing up in the India of the 1970s.

They are cuddly and body-positive in a folksy, wise, women-of-the-world way. They look like friendly playthings made of safe and soft fabrics but they are, really, cultural symbols. As Misra says, “Our sari dolls are conceived to tell little girls why wearing saris is a part of our cultural ecosystem and convey a comfort level with the sari.”

These dolls wear handwoven linen saris with specially styled blouses, petticoats and little trinkets, and come with a fabric duffel bag for Rs9,800 each, all inclusive.

In February, after Mattel, the makers of Barbie, the world’s most famous doll, launched the toy’s new versions—curvy, tall and petite in different skin colours—Mint Lounge had argued the case for an Indian fabric doll called Bhumi. Happily enough, Anavila’s sari dolls fill that need-gap.

At Anavila, Dhairya Apartments, 11th Road, Khar (West), Mumbai (09820814910).

By Shefalee Vasudev

Pottery from Studio Ataash

It was five years ago, while working as an assistant designer, illustrator and spoken English teacher in Thailand, that Ambika Shankar first dabbled in pottery for three months. Today, Shankar, who owns Bengaluru-based Studio Ataash, is into pottery full-time, and sells her work online.

“After Thailand, I returned to India and spent one and a half years at Mantra Pottery in Auroville, learning under its founder Angad Vohra. That’s where I learnt most of what I know today,” she says.

Teaching pottery and painting at a local school, she saved up enough to set up a studio in her garden at home.

“What inspires me changes from time to time, but I’m mostly inspired by nature,” says Shankar. Once, a white river-like pattern on the leaves of a bottle-gourd plant inspired her to create a new glaze for one of her pots.

Many of Shankar’s tumblers and coffee mugs, planters, vases, and bowls carry abstract designs, strokes and patterns that use this glaze.

Under the banner of Studio Ataash, Shankar has held two pop-ups so far in Bengaluru, one at Kitsch Mandi’s Junta Art Market at Om Made Café, in collaboration with an illustrator-friend, in June, and one at the Studio Potters’ Market in the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in August.

To order, email Shankar at ataash.studio@ gmail.com. You can find her on Instagram @studio_ataash.

By Vangmayi Parakala

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