Who doesn’t like to keep decorative sets of crockery in their cupboards? Or artefacts made up of clay? Most of us like to decorate our shelves and garden spaces with trendy terracotta products. But, have you ever heard about a Fridge made up of clay?
Yes, a fridge that requires no electric input or maintenance but keeps your food as fresh as collected from plants. Madhu Rana of Gerda village in Balangir district is the creator of this unique model. As pottery was his family business, he refurbished the traditional earthenware into modern pottery to sustain himself in the competitive market. Apart from fridges, he also makes filters, cookers, plates, Tawas, toys and other terracotta products with attractive designs.
“As the terracotta fridge is composed of soil, it is free of toxic chemicals and keeps the whole vessel cool. It only requires water which acts as a coolant in the vessel and helps preserve fruits for at least ten days with the same taste.”
The metallic utensils and electronic gadgets undoubtedly comfort our lives. Thus, the budding inclination for these gadgets has gradually faded the terracotta business. Still, few Potter families have continued their ancestral profession by fusing the art of pottery with the changing fashion.
Madhu has been a rational businessman who withstood the critical time and learned new skills and ideas in the terracotta business. In 2013, he underwent training to acquire knowledge regarding items going with trends and other techniques from skill development programs facilitated by the State Government.
The scorching heat of summer and the emission of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a major greenhouse agent pressed Madhu to come up with the idea of a ‘terracotta fridge’. It keeps food fresh just like an electronic fridge with zero CFC emission. To make it functional, Madhu has divided the whole fridge into two compartments – one for the fruits and the other for storing water that keeps the fruits fresh and hydrated. It takes a day or two to make fridges of different sizes. The cost of the fridge varies as per the size.
At first, he uses the earthen products at his home to observe the tenacity and effectiveness. As the innovation brings out positive results, Madhu introduce them in different district and state level fairs. He has exhibited his unique artefacts in the public forums and received intense appreciation from the people for his work. Till now, he has exhibited his terra products in fairs such as ‘Murtikka’, ‘Mission Shakti Mela’, ‘Toshali Mela’ etc.
“People get astonished on seeing my products and appreciate my efforts to make such trendy and unique products. At every fair, people eagerly purchase products mostly the terracotta fridge, filter and cooker from which I make huge profit.”
Earthenware is an integral part of our lives. Even today, Indians prefer to light terracotta diyas, drink tea in kulhads and store water in earthen pots. This terracotta fridge of Madhu Rana though first of its kind, but fascinated the urban populous immensely. On the other hand, amidst the current global scenario, such products may trigger people to think of ways to adapt to the traditional lifestyle.