They are then glued together with an adhesive made of crushed tamarind seeds. Both water and oil colours are used to paint the toy or figurine. Painting is done with soft and thin paintbrushes made of goat's hair. The toys depict scenes from actual life, animals, rural folks.
Deities and characters from the epics. Kondapalli soldiers, pen stand, Dasavatar set and the Ambari elephants are among the famous items produced by the artisans.
Kondapalli toys are colourful, hand-crafted and have been around for over five centuries.
The dolls are crafted from “Punki” a wood which is obtained from local forests and seasoned for years.
The legs and the torsos are done from a single piece of wood, then the arms carved separately and joined to the main body.
To give a seamless effect, makh - a paste made of sawdust mixed with cooked tamarind seed powder - is applied over defects, and to build up features like hair knots and turbans. This is smoothened on with the horn burnisher.
After the figure is filled, it is rubbed with batana - cooked tamarind seed powder in paste form - on a cloth. The gold paper is stuck on with resin gum from the tumma tree and the figure is painted with powder paint mixed with the same gum. Men do the carving while women mix and apply the paint.
Small changes have crept in, like using Fevicol instead of gum. Originally, natural dyes were used, making the Kondapalli toys safe for children, indigo used for blue, turmeric powder for yellow, and both mixed to create green. In recent years, some artisans use enamel paints to make them look shiny with less effort. Gold and silver foil for embellishments have been replaced by strips of silver and gold paper.
The themes vary from mythological to the modern. Some deviations are present, where miniature household utensils are made for the children to play with. The Krishna theme and the Dasavatharamare popular with the artisans, and there is reverence in carving these figures, considering they are better crafted.