Tuesday, August 21

Sun shines, nay, smiles on my wall

That's what Dipti Nair, a dear colleague of mine, probably thought after she finished a mural in her balcony.

A woman of many hats, Dipti loves Madhubani art, and the Sun God motif, which she says, is predominant in her creative pieces, be it pottery, paintings or cushions. That's why she did not hesitate to do up the balcony of her rented home in Bangalore few years back.

Here is her take on the make-story:
`It took a long time because I procrastrinated. Days and weeks would pass and I would not touch the half finished mural! I started out with painting the border first and for a long time, family and guests thought it was what I painted - a large terracotta red rectangle with a border.

One fine day, I was so disgusted with myself that I finished the entire mural in three days.'

And what a lovely mural it turned out to be!In spite of not knowing how to do Madhubani art!

Naturally, she spent a large part of her reading time in the balcony for years. A bigger tribute was in store later. When she moved from the house, the home owner decided to keep the mural intact.

Doesn't this balcony feel heaven! To add some more creative touch, she repurposed a chopped tree stump with cave painting figures. Here it is:

Dipti used Fevicryl white paint for the mural. She has started painting a similar one in her new home too.

Photo courtesy: Dipti Nair

Want handmade gifts with a difference?

A few days back, you got a glimpse of some really innovative gift wrapping by Lalitha Menon.
That was not all! Here is more from her. The gift occasion has been Christmas, but such ideas can be used for practically any time of the year.

Does the following picture remind you of Easter egg hunting? Or simply looks like a bird nest that lost its way to an office desk?

Lalitha Menon, the ever-so experimenting gifter, has done a lot of work here. She emptied the contents of egg-shells by making a tiny hole at one end carefully. She then washed and dried the egg-shells.

What followed, needed more dexterity. She filled small pieces of muslin with cloves, cardamom and cinnamon, tied each with a ribbon, and gently pushed it into different shells. She sealed the shells with white tape.

The nest, she made with Inja - a tree bark that is easily available in the ayurvedic shops of Kerala, India. And used a ribbon for the gift effect. So spices in the muslin are the gift. They can be pulled out and placed between clothes. And Inja is a superb body scrub! I bet it makes for a gift from nature, and far less expensive than the expensive body scrubs from big buck stores

Here is another one from her desk:

It's simply a gift placed inside an empty coconut shell - rather two shells of a coconut. The coconut was sealed by wrapping with tissue paper, and using a ribbon to hold the two halves. The post-it note reads -- `A great ostrich laid an egg just for u @ my farm!!'

And now for some patience:

Never thought you would pull out some cotton from the First Aid box or your medicine shelf for gift wrapping did you?

``The idea here was to rag the receiver, so it takes some time to unwrap the gift,'' says Lalitha Menon. Sure enough, the gift was wrapped with cotton at both edges and the center filled with colourful rubber bands.

The words on her post-it note read: `Santa ran out of `wrapping paper in the North pole...''

Wow, what a Christmas gift!

Pics by Lalitha Menon

Monday, August 20

Caricaturish bookmarks

I love cartoons, specially the classic Tom and Jerry and Mickey Mouse kinds. I love cartoons of the daily newspaper too, R K Laxman's Common Man being my favourite.

Drawing cartoons I thought was impossible. Not equipped enough. But a few tries really worked.

Here they are, cartoon expressions that made their way to bookmarks.

All I used was - cardstock or cardpaper that's off-white or cream, a brown Sharpie marker, brown thread with beads, Uniball Vision Elite black gel pen, a hole-punch besides some glue.

Not to forget the corner punch.

Glue two pieces of card paper of the same size and press them under books, or maybe your sofa. A day later, pull them out, draw expressions, give your words and tag the bookmarks after punching. Borders are optional.

Just being able to make the eyes and mouth gives you such a world of possibilities!

These designs look better off the picture than here. The pen work looks thicker.

I loved this Great Idea stamp, but am not so happy with the Happiness bookmark here. The result is tacky. My friend who came visiting loved it though.

If you wish to learn to make expression-faces, google images and try out on your sketch-pad.

Pics: Radhika M B

Saturday, August 18

Newspaper on the wall

Would you ever dare to put up newspaper on the wall other than for protecting them during a painting session?

Vidya Nair of www.whatsurhomestory.com, an amazing DIYer I have just met online, actually put up vintage newspaper on her wall, as decor! I wouldn't have believed that pieces of newspaper you would throw away as trash would liven up a wall, but for those pictures.

For me, it's always that `Ah! the smell of old newspaper!' feeling. Still it would be a dilemma in my visual head if newspapers could actually work as decor...never mind if the best of brains managed to make furniture out of that ubiquitous thing!

Take a look at these:

Is that not gorgeous! She has used painted birch bark and gingko leaves for that dry-souvenir look.
For those of you who do not know how gingko leaves look, here is a link:


Here is a couple of pictures more.

Me thinks it would have made lovely impact on wall decor of other dark colours too. But love this look here anyways.

For an idea how she made it, you could visit Vidya Nair's wonderful DIY website. Here is the link - Recycled Newspaper Art

Meanwhile, look out for more from Lalitha Menon and some `not so recycled' bookmarks from my end too.

Photo courtesy: Vidya Nair

Tuesday, August 14

Rangoli on a bookmark

If you are an Indian, rangoli is intrinsic to your growing up.  Although rangolis look simple to the naked eye, those who are good at it know that it takes precision, effort and imagination to make a beautiful rangoli.

Integral to India's visual culture, it transcends religion, so much that it is part of school and college contests.

I remember visiting the Dharmaram Seminary in Bangalore that owned Christ College where I did my Bachelors, not just for Christmas, but Onam too, that was celebrated with gaiety.

Halls and halls rangolis - with huge pookalams (rangolis made using flower petals) - all of them made by wannabe priests of church or Brothers who were still years away from their ordination! In Mumbai, rangolis came alive during Diwali (festival of lights) and assumed modernist design. Some neighbours would make use of a quiet corner between the elevator wall and the wall adjoining their door to create a lovely square rangoli and not disturb the smallish aisle. Others would prefer to empty their living rooms for a huge one!

Back in my childhood years, our mothers and aunts would get up early enough to wash the cement walk-ways in front of homes to draw a rangoli with rice powder or chalk.

I did not make rangolis on a daily basis when in India. In the US of A, it is more difficult to make a rangoli outside your door. Most times, the outside of your door is carpeted. At other times, if you do have a cemented walk-way to your apartment, you are not allowed to make changes like using colours that may alter the floor's look.

Even when I did not manage the daily rangoli outside my homes at Chennai and Mumbai, I moved them to another level. I filled my bookmarks with them. And these pictures keep me going. They inspire me to do more here.

Here are some bookmarks I made when in Chennai.

I used the inside of a cardboard carton and trimmed it for this one. It's one of my beginner pieces.

To make it thick, I sand-papered the glossy side of two pieces of the carton's and stuck them. After that, I pressed the bookmark under a pile of books. Pieces of a saree border that I bought from a crafts store did the job of some design.

Next was to look up an easy rangoli design online and draw it out here. On top of the rangoli, I drew mango leaves- toranam or door-usher design. The grey here reminds me of the cemented floors, although painting the rangoli white did not work out.

Here is a set of tinies - from the inside of a large-sized Mysore Sandal soap.

Satin ribbon borders helped here. These bookmarks are two inches by three inches in size. So they can be alternated as gift tags too.

This one's design did not turn out the way I expected, but wanted to snapshot it anyways. It is again, the trimmed back of a Mysore Sandal soap.

Inspired by the countless rangolis I have seen on cement floors and red-oxide floors, I came up with the following.

Am not so good with brushes, but gave the pieces a try anyways. They are thin pieces and came in handy as gifts to the religious elders in my extended family.

If you see the word `Om' done using the dotted rangoli style, let me tell you I also used this design to make two other bookmarks with the words - `Dream' and `Hope'. My cousin gladly grabbed them.

You could try them too if you wish to. If there are queries, mail me:) radicreative@gmail.com

Pictures: Radhika M B

Saturday, August 11

Gift-wrapping just got innovative!

What do you do when you get a gift for someone you cherish? Spend your precious currency buying a shiny gift wrapping paper? Or even more for a gift wrap? Or simply pick up from gift papers that you saved when they came from other gifts?

Lalitha Menon who I am so lucky to know through this blog, uses her heart not just for gifting, but her creative cells for thinking up unique gift wraps too.

Look at the following picture...

They are yummy tender mangoes soaked in brine! Feeling them pieces in your mouth already? What better a gift to give your close one? They are wrapped in butter paper I guess. Instead of placing them in a glass or plastic jar, Lalitha got some coconut husks so readily available where she lives - Kerala, and tied a satin ribbon to hold the bundled mangoes between the coco-peels. The best wishes message was simplistic, on a post-it note, and stuck up on the blessed friend's table.

Lalitha Menon, who is a corporate soft skills trainer, MC and has lived in Mumbai, Africa and now lives in Cochin, says she loves to make her gifts unconventional. ``I love to see smiles on people's faces when they receive these gifts.''

Take a wild guess what the picture below could be all about.

Alright. You do see banana leaves, frangipani and red flowers.

Now this looks more like an exotic towel rolled and wrapped beautifully. It's actually a jar of Payasam, the deliciously sweet porridge, made with love. Such a thoughtful gift would make anyone want to grab that gift, not just foodies or those with a sweet tooth! Besides, not a sheet of paper got lost in wrapping it!

The string-bag above is a Christmas treat. It's a Santa bag made from old fabric, and topped with cotton to give it that snowy Santa effect. And another post-it note for the gifted one.

There is more from Lalitha. But let me save some of her work for another post. Meanwhile, do let your creative head soar with ideas, naturally!

Saturday, August 4

Handmade clock

My maddening move, first perceived as, for India, and after a last minute change, for New Jersey, kept me off blogging for a while.

Am back. For those of you who loved the CD-case made of CDs by my friend Ramakrishna, here is another piece he came up with - a styro-foam wall clock.

While the clock is not a perfect piece of art, there is something homely about it. And speaks volumes of how love for one's child can spur creative projects in a household.

This is tissue paper pasted over the styrofoam board that has been cut to a quadrilateral shape. A clock mechanism was probably pulled out from another worn out clock, and fit in to the center. Digits were done by taking prints on paper from a computer.

This is heartening and looks like a low-cost-best-result piece, because I spent about $ 10 at Michaels for a clock kit. And am still dreaming of making it, sitting in the make-shift home (read Extended Stay America).

Pearl paint was used to give this metallic copper look. Just so you get an idea about its dimensions, take a look at the picture below. It's the wall clock, placed in contrast with the other home-made decor pieces displayed on the other end of the wall.

If you have experimented with creativity on your own, go ahead, send me pictures and a brief description of how you made them, where you sourced materials and how much it cost you. Creativity is all about imperfection and experimenting. Am looking forward to receive info about your projects. Mail me: radicreative@gmail.com