A team from Mumbai consisting of the core team of Graminno, and some guests who joined the workshop for the first time traveled to the Graminno Community Makerspace workshop in September 2021, to work together with the villagers and learn to make furniture from branches collected from the land around the village, and plastic chord made from used mineral water bottles.
The journey from Mumbai to Atale, where the workshop is located is a beautiful drive through thick forests and waterfalls everywhere.
The first step is to go for an early morning walk in the forest to look for fallen branches. For the villagers, this is a daily routine. They normally collect these branches for firewood. Now, instead of burning the branches and adding to the pollution, they make this elegant hand-made furniture!
The next steps are to cut the branches to size to make the main A-shaped frames of the chairs. The branches are all odd shaped, and so they are first tied with coir ropes to test the fitting. Then the joints are cut with interlocking slots in the wood, and glued together.
To reinforce the joints, the team cuts and trims wooden pegs. This is a painstaking process but results in joints that are free from wear and tear due to weather. Normally, furniture is made using metal joinery like screws and nails. The metal and wood do not expand and contract the same way in changing weather conditions, and eventually rust or loosen the joints. Instead, the wooden pegs become an integral part of the wood, and is able to withstand any temperature or moisture changes in the weather without affecting the strength of the joints.
The children from the village love to spend time at the workshop too. They are busy drawing their ideas on the recycled paper that was provided by some sponsors to the workshop.
At the end of day 1, the main frames are glued and ready for surface finishing on the next day.
On the next day, we learn to make a jig to strip plastic chord from used mineral water bottles. In this video, Tushar is testing the jig under the watchful eyes of all the other participants. Luckily the jig is working, and we are in business!
We then use the plastic chord to tie the branches that make up the seat of the chair, and then heat it to contract and tighten the joints. The children are very keen to try this on their own!
Hemani helps the children make their own small chair for the toy monkey - Funtoosh. They work in a team, and are eager to see the results of their hard work.
Meanwhile, the team is busy attaching the seats and backs for the chairs with plastic chord. The mineral water bottles were collected and brought to the workshop by the participants from Mumbai.
The kids are ready with their chair, and Funtoosh the toy monkey seems to be very comfortable sitting in it!
The team is beaming with pride on completing their chairs!