What magic can be done using a few humble seeds, some wire, and bits of paper? “Create jewellery befitting for a princess,” says Ramawatar Singh confidently; he has been designing jewellery with hand-picked seeds since 2005. Ramawatar, who has travelled across the country to conduct seed jewellery-making workshops, was recently invited by a hotel in Jaipur to teach this art to the guests. A naturalist, he also helps organise self-healing workshops, organic farming walks and cycle yatras.
During farming expeditions and bird walks through the forest, this unusual jeweller would notice seeds of different sizes, shapes and hues scattered everywhere. One day, a spark was kindled. “There are a thousand types of seeds and a million ways to use them creatively,” says the 41-year-old self-taught designer, who grew up in an agricultural household in Ajmer, Rajasthan. He believes there is no better learning space than Nature. “I have collected 100 varieties of seeds till now,” he says.
In the first year of his project, Ramawatar discovered that many of the seeds he collected had medicinal properties. “I discovered that these seeds were becoming rare. Now, when if I find one of these, I immediately hand it over to native doctors who know what to do with them. I collect seeds of mostly local plants, which grow in profusion everywhere,” he says. Ramawatar is one of the pioneers of the ‘Swapathgami’ network—the ‘walkout-walk-on’ system, which supports people who leave the education field and the corporate world to follow their passion for Nature. His seed jewellery is not for sale, but are used in workshops as symbols of a sustainable lifestyle in tune with Nature. “Leaves, flowers and natural designs would always leave a strong impression on my mind, which in turn reflects in my work,” he confesses.
On his journeys across the groves and fields of Uttarakhand and Central India while following his unique passion, Ramawatar is never without a cloth bag to bring home a bunch of seeds. His parents wanted him to complete college and find a government job, but he preferred farming and dropped out of school. Later, he taught at Barefoot College and worked as a coordinator of the alternative schooling programme, supervising 150 schools across five districts of Rajasthan. In 2003, he joined ‘Shikshantar’ in Udaipur; a movement that works for a rethink of present education and development systems. “This shift has had a huge impact on my life and way of thinking. It has helped me follow my true passion and live my life with more awareness.” Seed jewellery has become Ramawatar’s life-long mission to bring people closer to the environment in a creative manner.
Ramawatar has collected 100 varieties of seeds till now. The collection has Marodhphali (the Indian Screw Tree), Kaknasa (Tiger Claws), Talwar Phali (Sword Bean), Ratti (Crab’s Eye) and Raktachandan (Red Sandalwood) in majority.Most seeds are of native plants, which grow in bulk in the forests of Uttarakhand and Central India.He uses seeds from his collection for workshops also.