Artists with leather as canvas

“This is an art,” says Dhayalan K. The shoemaker rhythmically beats a leather sole with a hammer at his shop in Mamallapuram. He pauses to add, “There’s so much to learn. I’ve just started.” He is talking about shoe making, a craft that he learned from his uncle. Dhayalan’s hands can create magic with leather — he sees it as a canvas he can play with. The craft contributes a significant amount to the seaside town’s tourism economy — Mamallapuram’s Othavadai Street alone has around five shops that custom-make footwear.

Priced from Rs. 300 onwards, a pair of leather slippers can cost up to Rs. 1,500. Dhayalan and his colleague K Thukaram work inside the cramped shop that’s located a few metres from the beach. “I come from Poonthandalam village in Arcot. It’s been 30 years since I started making footwear,” says Dhayalan. He hasn’t gone to school or college, but the 49-year-old knows his craft like the back of his hand. He is the designer, he is the craftsman. “If all the necessary materials are available, I can make a pair in half a day,” he adds. On any given day, Dhayalan makes six pairs of footwear. At Mamallapuram, it’s common for tourists to place an order on their way to a restaurant for lunch and pick it up after their meal.....Read more


Source web page:The Hindu

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