From Carpenter to Artisan: The Pandemic Journey of a Coconut Shell Crafter

Handcrafted items from coconut shells.
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Discovering a New Passion

In the heart of Thrissur, at Ramdas Mohan’s home, visitors are greeted by an impressive array of handcrafted items, primarily made from coconut shells. What appears to be the collection of an avid hobbyist is actually the fruit of a newfound passion Ramdas embraced during the pandemic.

Until 2020, Ramdas’s life revolved around his job as a carpenter at Silver Yacht Dubai and his family, with little room for hobbies or leisure activities. When the pandemic hit, the lockdowns left him with an abundance of free time at home in Kerala. To fill this void, he sought out new activities and stumbled upon the art of crafting handmade items.

The Humble Beginnings

“I never thought of taking up a hobby at the age of 45. Creating handcrafted items was completely new for me. I never knew the basics. Initially, I intended to make free time at home productive,” Ramdas shares.

Coconut shells, readily available in his vicinity, became his medium of choice. His first attempt was to make a kitchen ladle, but it was a complete failure. Undeterred, Ramdas turned to YouTube to learn the nuances of the craft. His breakthrough came when he created a lamp from coconut shells, which garnered praise from his family and neighbors and encouraged him to continue.

Crafting Through the Pandemic

After returning to Dubai in October 2020, Ramdas’s creative journey was expected to slow down. However, his manager at Silver Yacht Dubai encouraged him to continue his crafting endeavors. “My manager Subair came to know about the crafts through Facebook posts. When I make some good craft decor items, I post them in WhatsApp groups to share with my friends, who then post the images on Facebook tagging me. This is how my colleagues came across my work. Once I returned to Dubai, my friends and the company management asked me to continue making more crafts,” says Ramdas.

Despite the scarcity of coconut shells in Dubai compared to Kerala, Ramdas found a way to source them from supermarkets, which typically discard the shells after grating and packing the coconuts. He reached out to these markets to collect the shells, ensuring a steady supply for his projects.

A Collective Effort

Ramdas’s creative efforts in Dubai are supported by his five roommates, who assist him with suggestions and ideas. “Their support makes me want to do more,” he says. Balancing his job with the sea trials he conducts as part of his work, Ramdas still finds time to create a variety of items. “The satisfaction I feel upon completing a piece, whether it’s an elephant or a turtle, is immense. The pleasure I get from creating this work is beyond words. I sometimes even dream about them,” he adds.

Continuing the Journey

Ramdas’s journey from carpenter to artisan is a testament to the unexpected paths we can take when faced with new challenges. His story is a reminder that it’s never too late to discover a new passion and that creativity can flourish even in the most unlikely circumstances. As he continues to craft beautiful items from coconut shells, Ramdas’s work stands as a symbol of resilience, creativity, and the joy of handmade art.


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