When life gave me Paper…

In the monsoon laden June of 2010, the husband is asked to take on a short term project in Mumbai and we decide that I would be tagging along. We are happily sent off by the family with exploding packets of VaggaraNe Avalakki (flattened rice) & Besan Ladoos (sweets made with gramflour and tons of ghee) stacked in an otherwise empty suitcase. After being bombarded with a list of “Don’t do this” & “Don’t do that” by paranoid relatives,  we taxi up to the airport with the silent thrill of uncertainty hovering in our minds.What transpired over the next three months is a journey even my day dreams failed to conjure up.
We drench in the sultry monsoon rains of Mumbai, savour piping hot Vada Pavs with a side of fried green chillies everyday at 8:30am and cross paths with the warmest of people ( some of whom I continue to stay in touch with). I fall in love with a city that isn’t Bangalore…
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The company offered to put us up in a nano-sized hotel room, owned by a nice Sardar couple. The A/C blared louder than the television. I clearly wasn’t prepared for the city’s soaring temperatures. A marsala maroon bedspread over a vibrant, printed Rajasthani bed sheet was my make do sofa. I had the added comfort of tucking in my feet in a cosy blanket. Midday wafts of Dal Tadka flooded the room coupled with sounds of mustard seeds sputtering in hot oil. A grey-black granite slab jutting out from the wall became a prayer corner.  While the husband was at work, I was cooped up in this tiny space and while the first few hours were spent organizing & devotedly basking in laziness, the rest of the day felt like eternity. The kind owner lady assured me that she would scour for hobby classes through her evening walk. The next morning  I enrolled in Paper Quilling classes. I knew I had found something to kill time.
What I didn’t know was this: Being cramped up in a hotel room, many miles away from home would wind up extracting oodles of creativity from me. I didn’t know was that the little granite slab would become a workspace strewn away with strips of pastels, flaming reds & ombres. I also didn’t know I would indulge in a whirlwind romance with paper & glue.
I quilled my heart away for the next three months oblivious of the rains that pitter pattered out our window….rolling, gluing and putting together flowers, leaves & abstracts. The devils workshop of an idle mind vanished deep into the recesses of my brain with every idea that sprung on sleepless nights. Reveries transformed from shoe shopping at Linking Road to gleefully idling away at the craft store in Nadco Complex.
This is where it all began….
(Mumbai holds a special place in our hearts and I hope to write & share sometime,more of the happy things we experienced in that very loving city)
A couple of months later we found ourselves in Jersey City and in the two years that followed, I quilled almost everyday (sans the days we vacationed), conducted classes and sold some creations online & at bustling art markets. Then it was Hello Bangalore! once again. Bangalore was kind & welcoming because I found myself hustling between classes at home, several happy students going in and out. I like to think that I learnt more than I taught.I also think I have a long journey of learning ahead.
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Quilling is the art of rolling paper strips into a design…simple, complicated, miniature, massive. When students perplexedly remark that it appears more byzantine than they would like, I always assure them this : It’s not as hard as it looks. Additionally, the scope it offers is  as versatile as that offered by brush and a palette of paints. This is a tangled labyrinth they won’t regret being lost in.
Quilling has taught me that Amma’s (mom) patience lending genes have indeed taken precedence over my father’s contrasting ones and have made their way through to me since every composition takes a certain amount of time to achieve. It was in that little room in magical Mumbai that I learnt the meaning of being passionate about something.
Romantic gloomy days coupled with a warm cup of tea & a plethora of coloured strips continue to be my panacea. I’m currently in the midst of getting an online Etsy store ready and rather chuffed about it. Lest I forget, I’m thankful to the teacher in Mumbai who introduced me to this world that has caught me by addiction albeit in only positive ways…

I’ll admit I’ve barred & hidden all the initially made kitschy pieces but here’s a minuscule display of my work….I do hope you like it…
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Oops! I stained the Coffee Table!

You know how little kids bursting with an overzealous creative effulgence wind up drawing the most haphazard but one-of-a-kind designs making for the most adorable wall art,  sometimes capable of even putting a Picasso to shame.Well,  I’m no child but admittedly ridden with a perpetual itch to create, to slather empty spaces with paints & splotches, to suffuse the blank with prints and finally to render to that my very own signature.Long story short, I’m on a relentless hunt for a Blank Canvas. To help make this all a reality, I’m blessed with a husband who may not know his way around a brush or pencil but whose mind is a store of ideas and is guilty of many, many light bulb moments.  Like when a sober looking ivory wall in our Bangalore bedroom constantly tickled the right side of my brain: The following weekend, we painted the wall a nice light sap green and framed an old, frayed, gold & ivory satin cloth to make for wall decor. And Voila! Life turned a tad greener, fresher & so much better.
Now that you get the picture, let’s move on to the chief protagonists of this article.
Back when we were in Jersey City (if only I had a dollar for every time I used this phrase!), we had just moved into our studio and were on a constant lookout for inexpensive furniture. An apartment above ours turned into our very own flea market, replete with abandoned tables, shelves & cupboards. We drank in the treasure but a 30″ coffee table became the object of interest to the both of us and the same evening, it had our name on it! The table seemed rather antique, with a rosewood like finish which was polished off in a jiffy after a visit to Home Depot. What grabbed my attention though was the spotless glass top, enormous, hefty, mundane and most importantly, Empty……
The next couple of weeks, I donned my messy apron and austerely immersed myself in a tunnel of colors, hoping to make it my own. Nothing beautifies glass like imitation Stained Glass Painting and after a round of thick outlining, I have to admit, painting it was a breeze. I wound up using a ton of crimson to keep in tandem with the The Wall of Warli & our red ottomans. Here’s the outcome, the table which inevitably became a part of many date nights, got a taste of all my experiments from the kitchen, that selflessly lent itself for my crafty projects which also meant tolerating sticky glue stains , held freshly baked birthday cakes with candles and became a significant part of that home.
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Onto the next part of the story. The other protagonist. For obvious reasons, we couldn’t carry this 80 pound glass top back to Bangalore and saw ourselves yearning for another center table that permitted tea spills, provided a temporary home for my books, friend-ed & accommodated the extra set of my students and for those rare meal times when we were tempted to stretch our legs & indulge in a nail biting televison series. The long and short of it, every home deserves a coffee table, so did this one.
Glass switched with wood & paper this time and weeks of intense imitation Minakari Painting, transpired in this.(The original Minakari Painting is a gift from the very talented artisans of Rajasthan and can be seen adorning palaces.The one you see below is just a imitation and made using fevicryl products). The copper bronze finish was implemented in order to compliment the brown beige cushions & carpet. I jazzed up these earthy tones with some hot pink & yellow, in other words, the perks of unshackled creative freedom. (Once the painting was complete, a very kind person who specializes in framing paintings did the needful aka framed it, fixed the additional wooden logs for legs and fitted it with an appropriate sized glasstop.)
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(Please ignore the red mat below)
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After a two year stint in Bangalore, it was time to move again although this time the table made it’s way, flying 9000 miles, to Canada. The husband has now cleverly transformed my work of art into a little high top dining table.
But, this home still lacks a coffee table and my brain is on overdrive…..

I do hope you liked this one!

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When age is just a number….

Before I begin, the two beautiful people/students of mine,  who are the inspiration behind this post, are the loveliest ladies with chubby little grandchildren to boast of. (and thanks to technology we still keep in touch) .
Now, let me a paint the background. Back in Bangalore I was busy running & managing a little art/craft school . Working from the comforts of home, it was more than just something done to pass the time. The passion for art combined with the satisfaction of teaching made the experience incredibly satiating & divine. Every morning & evening, I delightfully welcomed students of all ages, introduced them to my world  ( a possible topic for another post), invariably putting a smile on their faces. Some were kind enough to let me be a part of their lives and we went on to become friends, relationships I will cherish for life. Every moment, a coveted privilege.

Two among this family,  that remain to be special are Uma aunty & Lakshmi aunty (I call them “aunty” out of respect, them being around my mom’s age) and I unapologetically call them my favorite students. As you read further, you’ll see yourself agreeing with me.

When I first met them, hardly did I know that these two friends would gain the honour of becoming the “back-benchers” of my little classroom. Since they catered to a multitude of responsibilities at home, it almost always ensued a late arrival to class but the loud burst of energy they brought with them was infectious at the least. Always attired elegantly in the crispest of cotton saris painted in an array of pleasing colors & prints, it would be a matter of moments before peals of laughter reverberated through the walls of my living room. Rare lackadaisical mornings merely expected their presence in order to be uplifted. They beckoned us to look beyond that room, beyond art, beyond craft, beyond the paper & paint because “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” and if not for them, I probably would have been ignorant of that lesson. Their affable nature was undoubtedly popular among adults but I always thought it’s their experience that procured them the very prized attention of the little children.
Having said that, none of this hindered their progress in class. Be it paper art or painting, they were pros and constantly brimming with creativity(take a look at the pictures below). They were always battle ready to learn new forms of art, a thirst I failed to spot in the hearts of most of the younger generation. Maybe it’s because we delve in the turmoils of uncertainty and prefer to procrastinate,  that we neglect the “present” that is so gloriously offered to us. Lesson learnt.
I won’t deny that I taught them the ways of the paper strips & the brush but the truth is I learnt more from them than they did from me. I learnt that age is just a number, I learnt that being happy or making someone else happy is hardly dependent on the pitfalls of life. Although they are much older than I am,( and not that I expected it), they showered me with the respect they would offer a teacher.To be honest, it spoke more of their humility rather than anything about me. Another lesson learnt.
But, before I conclude, the one thing I am certain I will never learn from them is the magic they pour into their spicy, flavour jammed Indian Mango pickles & the myriad of chutneys, for some things can  never be replicated…..

Here’s  glimpse of their creative journey…..
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The Wall of Warli- A Painting & A Story

Back in 2010, the husband & me had a little studio for a home in Jersey City, NJ. No complaints though, smaller spaces make for quick cleaning & easy maintenance. With a dreamy view of a shimmering New York Skyline, the only thing  amiss was privacy. The living room directly merged with the bedroom space & though the house seemed bigger, we would have been happier with a make do seperator. We scoured Ikea, Amazon, & Craigslist even in the quest to find the perfect room separating apparatus but in vain. That’s when the husband had a jolt of an idea & the Wall of Warli was born. Continue reading “The Wall of Warli- A Painting & A Story”

Spring!- Quillography

The anticipation for spring grows as I see a grey and white landscape outside my window. As much as I find peace in looking at the frozen lake & snow laden trees which make the words “winter wonderland” a reality,  the mind can’t help but yearn for a little sunshine and a little colour. The Weather Gods obviously will have it their way and I’m going to be made to wait a tad longer but this creation, for me,  is much like a trailer, a preview of the beauty I hope to encounter this spring.
 

Continue reading “Spring!- Quillography”

#tbt – Peach Quilled flowers on a Jute background

Time again for some throwback! This Quilled Clock was made by me as an order. First off, I’m a huge fan of arrowhead flowers that are seen in this picture and as you will spot in many of my coming posts as well.
One of the things that I concentrate on when I’m making a flower arrangement such as this is the ratio of flowers to leaves. It’s important to rest the flower on a big bed of leaves in order for the flower to take the spotlight & for the arrangement to look bounteous. Yes, it takes immense patience, a ton of twirling & swirling & gluing & shaping but it’s so worth it!
I love trying different backgrounds & this one is a red, jute one from Itsy Bitsy in Bangalore. To keep some order, I’ve lined the pretty peach petals in red. I do hope you like this creation!

Continue reading “#tbt – Peach Quilled flowers on a Jute background”