Wednesday, September 30

DIY Ganesha to go green this festival

Every year brings heartwarming efforts on the part of devotees to worship their favourite elephant god by respecting the earth that nurtures us. Every year brings heartbreaks too, when visuals of post-festival idols turn garbage of toxic proportions on our beaches.

The silver-lining - over the years, I see more interest in the effort to stick to unpainted clay Ganeshas, or to innovate with other materials.

Here is a quick round up of this year's efforts, as Navratri grandeur approaches soon.

My friend Hema Sampath, who misses her trips to Lalbaug Raja every year at Mumbai, continued her personal tradition of Ganesha worship this year. She dunked the painted Ganesha idols, for a homemade one.

``I had the clay in my fridge. I had kept it for my craft work. It came in handy for my Ganesha instead,'' says Hema, who loves lord Ganesha.

Creative in a lot of things herself, Hema is a super-busy mom to a beautiful one year old, who still manages to find time for craft ideas.

The deep blue box you see below her altar shelf, is not actually a box. It is a rangoli coaster that she uses to decorate the altar.

Worship has to come from the heart more than outside it, which is why one needs to set aside the conventional love for big size. In Mumbai, it can be a challenge, with the entire city and its outer cities turning the streets into Ganpati party zones, and large idols making the atmosphere euphoric during the nine days.

Still, a friend Sridevi Appari managed to do just that. All she needed was about half a kilogram of turmeric and water.

The result is divine, earthy and attractive at the same time.

Notice how a couple of vases with flowers add to the profusion of colour even more. And how the oleander strings sit comfortably on Ganesha and the kalash.

Sridevi's mom had such a Ganesha too, in a larger size. And needless to say, their steadfastness to stay green inspired TV coverage by a Mumbai TV channel. Here is how her Ganesha looked before the pooja.

Turmeric was what I used too, in my own personal tradition, of not buying the festival idol. I did not indulge in creativity to make the idol - just stuck to making the turmeric cone that is used in other festivals for a token Ganesha pooja, with some besan (chickpea flour).

Notice the little turmeric hill on the beetle leaf in this plate. A packet of flowers and some grass from the garden outside. And I was comfortable to go.

Those yellow circles with kumkum to decorate them, are symbolic of the lord's clothes. The bead-like cotton encircling is to symbolise his sacred thread.

I did manage to make a super quickie umbrella.

This one, is made with the end of a plastic garlic net bag, a bamboo skewer, some dried bamboo plant leaves, and rice in a brass crush bowl. Another flower to top it. The umbrella is integral to many households where people make it using cardboard. As the story goes, after all the war, Ganesha went for a stroll on his mouse, belly full and an umbrella on hand. And the moon laughed at him.

The rice went into our bellies later, while the leaves went back to soil. As for the net, it hangs around home for another use, perhaps in some other craft project.

I do not have a better picture of this, but it looked a lot better during the worship.

A chunk of my extended family still sticks to picking up paint-less Ganeshas a day or two before the festival. My own experience in Mumbai when I lived there, was their complete absence in the sea of painted idols.

An option when you get an idol that is not painted, is to add some decor element to it yourself.

My schoolmate Sujatha Ratnala and her family did just that. They got their idol through an NGO that makes, sells and teaches to make eco-friendly idols - To Make A Difference.

``They charge less than 50 per cent of the market rate. And they deliver it at the doorstep, just to save lakes,'' says Sujatha, who has been picking up these idols from them for the last four years. This year, nine of her neighbours got them too.

As for giving the deity a personal touch, she got her son to paint it a little.

The family used muggu rai - or the chalk used in millions of Indian homes for home rangolis. They dissolved it in water and the boy used a paint brush to decorate the idol.

Other embellishments around home came in handy.

``The crown, we had from earlier festivals. And the cloth too. For the forehead, we used a beaded rakhi,'' says Sujatha. As such, such crowns can be found in many religious shops.

A small piece of white cloth that makes for the dhoti, is a piece of Kerala dhoti tied using a string. She cut the cloth to the size of handkerchief, and tucked the pieces in pleats to the string neatly.

The highest form of worship is when you offer yourself to God, selflessly and in spirit. I remember a beautiful Hindi poem at school, that talked of offering to God, the flowers on trees, as they were, without plucking them, and water from the oceans and rivers, without taking from them.

Being aware of the environmental hazards of toxic paints going into the water bodies, and defying societal frenzy by staying true to your heart are essential to one of our most important festivals.

It is heartening, going by the rising number of hits that the DIY Ganesha posts on this blog get each year, that as a population we have been taking interest in going green for worship. Wish we did that for every festival, every day worship, and every activity.


Pictures courtesy: respective owners or devotees -- Hema Sampath for the homemade clay Ganesha, Sridevi Appari for the turmeric Ganesha, Radhika M B for the tiny turmeric cone Ganesha, and Sujatha Ratnala for the NGO sell eco-friendly Ganesha.

Pictures have been used with permission from respective owners.

Any further use of the pictures requires permission from Imprints Handmade, and needs to attribute the use of these pictures, to Imprints Handmade. Copyrights for the pictures rest with the owners.

Friday, September 25

An O-ring on my ear : Thrifty idea to upcycle hardware joint sealers

Jewellery crafters across the world have a common problem. No amount of beads and tools can ever be enough.

If you are a crafter with a million ideas, expenses towards beads and findings can hit the roof. How about getting that zing on the style quotient with less or no cost at all?

All it takes is a trip to the neighbourhood hardware store. Ask for o-rings.

Wondering what they are? O-rings are really miniature gaskets, donut shaped, and used to fasten joints for various hardware projects. If you are aware of the pressure cooker gaskets, just imagine tiny versions of it They come in various sizes and a few colours. Although they are integral to the hardware DIY and tools world, o-rings have found favour with thousands of crafters across the world.

They have the recyclable star, can come in not just umpteen sizes, but a bunch of materials - plastic, neoprene, rubber and the like. Plus, they are dirt cheap. I have not checked their prices in India. But just walk up to one of these stores and check out for yourself.

I got lucky with a pack of silicone o-rings. And raced to get my jewellery making pliers.

This simple project needs you to get a hang of turning the nose pliers and flat-end pliers, and the cutters. Once done with a bit of practice, this one takes just a few minutes.

Here is what you need:

-- Fish hooks among jewellery/jewelry findings

-- jump rings

-- o-rings of the desired size, in this case I made do with o-rings of 3/4th inch diameter

  (material of o-ring here is silicone)

-- another size rings, preferrably smaller, from a jewellery finding stash or store (perhaps the craft store actually sold me o-rings in plastic)

Most importantly, jewellery/jewelry pliers -- nose plier, flat nose plier and cutter

Simple steps...

Fix the jump ring to the o-ring, and next on, attach the smaller rings to these using another jump ring. If the jump ring is flexible enough, you could use your fingers to do the fixing.

After this, fix the eye-end of the fish hook to the smaller ring, using another jump ring obviously.

You will need a plier for this. as the eye-end of the hook is tiny to handle.

Your new pair of earrings is ready.

Another option, is to use eye-pin headpins among jewellery findings. If you do, make sure that the `eye' of these eye-pings is large enough to hold the thickness of the o-rings.

Otherwise, you may use jump-rings to do the trick.

I have tried this second pair using two beads that were tucked away in my beads box. 

So you need a pair of beads, and eye pins.

Insert the bead into the eye pin, and bend the part of the eye-pin just above the bead in such a way that you can make a loop.

Roll the hanging end of this loop over the pin's part exactly above the bead, to hold the bead firmly.

Note here, that once done, you will have the eye pin's eye below the bead, the `eye' formed above it, and the loop available when you insert a jump-ring to the `eye' below the bead. To this jump ring, add the o-ring. And fix a fish hook, to the loop on the other side of the bead.

Your new pair of earrings is ready. You can give it a shot, using o-rings from a hardware kit, in different sizes. Wear these as work jewellery, or gift them away. Pick up other colours of o-rings, and start off your own little projects. Mail in about your effort.


-- deal carefully with the pliers and cutters

-- if you need to cut off extra part of the eye-pin after looping over the bead, make sure you use the pliers to blunt the cut edge

-- if you do not want to use jump rings for the first pair, you can attach the two with super glue

-- when you use beads, use them above the ring rather than below the ring, because silicone rings are somewhat elastic...they may bend or assume a different shape if burdened with weight

Pictures Courtesy: Radhika M B

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Friday, September 18

How to make plastic bottle cap stamp

Hi all, how did your Ganesha festival go?

Mine was good, super simple and satisfying. I tried something new for the elephant lord's umbrella, that I shall share in a later post. For now though, here is something I have been thinking aloud.

What exactly do we do with plastic bottles that only threaten to gobble up our lives with their volumes? The ideas are many, but there is an option, to recycle them.

We would of course wait for the local recycle shop guy who comes by the doorstep to collect them, in my parents' place.

In USA, the options to recycle plastic bottle caps are limited. It is not encouraged to put bottle and cap together into the recycle bins.

How about thinking up ideas for crafts with such caps? The possibilities are big.

I looked up the internet and was overawed with things one can do! But a simple idea struck me. And that of course is about converting them into stamping tools for home crafts! If you have kids who need to be kept busy, nothing like this.

The project I tried, gives a way out for the thermocol and styrofoam food containers that have inundated grocery stores and supermarkets too.

bottle cap recycle + handmade stamp

That is my new plastic bottle cap stamp, sitting against my favourite mug.

What you need for this super quickie project:

Materials for plastic bottle cap stamp + stamping ink pad + thermocol container

-- a used thermocol or styrofoam container...wash it thoroughly, and wipe off any residue of food

-- stamping pad or alternatively, some paint and brush

-- important important ....a plastic bottle cap of the size you want

-- a pair of scissors

-- multi-surface glue

-- pen or marker

Next on:

Thermocol container for plastic bottle cap stamp

DIY thermocol container stamp

Draw out a shape you like, or make your kid draw one. And cut it. Be sure, to draw on the flat surface of the container...a curved surface may not sit well with the glue.

All that needs to be done now, is to stick the foam on to the cap.

Tips here: 

If you want the glue to sit well on the cap, rub the surface of the cap with sandpaper a little. And delicately roughen up the glue-side of your foam shape.

A problem that may crop up in the project -- the foam sheet may be too thin for the cap if you need it to protrude enough for stamping. As a back up, cut the same shape twice or thrice.

You can use the foam shapes for kid projects that most craft stores sell these days instead of this cut and paste  bit. But using a discardable foam container is more satisfying...what say ya?

Stick on now.
Plastic bottle cap + bottle cap repurpose + make your own stamp + DIY

In case the shape is too thin, or the glue is excess, stick another piece of the shape on top of the current one. And another still if you are not happy with the protrusion yet.

For my piece, I thought the super glue I used was a mistake because it was spreading too much while getting absorbed the foam surface. 

So I cut out another teardrop shape and stuck it on top of the layer, with multi-surface craft glue.

And here it is:
Make your own stamp + plastic bottle cap +

You can stick a layer or two more of the shape, going by the result after stamping...see what works for you.

Styrofoam and plastic bottle cap for stamps

That is how my piece of paper looked after stamping up a little. I love the different texture this stamp brings in. It's gonna be rockin' useful for my projects - bookmarks, greeting cards, gift envelopes and more.

Don't throw away that water bottle cap or grocery item cap. Keep it and experiment.

Pictures Courtesy: Radhika M B

Permissions to use: Write to Radhika M B at

Friday, September 11

`Fruity' barrette clip with used 3-D stickers

Hi gals, am back with another post, thanks to the gentle nudging by a friend.

A few weeks back, my cutest little neighbour kept me on toes with her need to play and do stuff at home. My sweet toddler friend knows where exactly at home things that amuse her the most get stashed - my craft paraphernalia. Ribbons, stickers, beads, papers, tools, embellishments and more! And heads for them every time she fancies. Her dad was surprised by how familiar his darling girl was with stuff around our place.

Her objects of affection on this visit, were the bundles of stickers that I use for various craft projects. All I gave her was a white sheet or two. Peel and stick, peel and stick, she picked up whatever she liked by the second, and off they went, to stick to the paper. What a sight that was! I loved watching the enthusiasm in the little girl. And wondered how exhausted her mom must be, in keeping her occupied.

Kids love their stickers don't they?

I just love the abandon with which she sticker-painted this sheet.

At the same time, we adults get a headache trying to keep our hair ornaments and other jewellery together. They get lost, break or simply find no use after a while. When you end up with those barrette clips from which the decor pieces fall off, what do you do? Here is where my idea fits in.

For this quickie project, I have used new barrette clips. You could use a functional old clip that has either lost its charm, or you want to give a makeover, or a new one that you can pick up from craft stores online and offline. I peeled off the 3-D stickers from that sheet and used them for a kiddy barrette clip.

Here is how they can look on completion:

Let me tell you, my arrangement was slightly different when I started off. Read on.

What you need for the project, is of course, barrette clips to begin with.

You also need,

-- some multi-surface glue...I have used Superglue (such glue is available in craft stores, and stationery stores...make sure you check the instructions before buying)

-- a stirring stick and toothpick (optional)

-- some acrylic paint, or whitener

-- an old cloth, or newspaper, tissue paper, or packaging sheet to absorb spills if any

Now, for the how of it.

Carefully read the instructions on the glue container or packet before you start. When you apply glue, you must be cautious enough not to let any amount of the liquid touch your skin. Make sure you adhere to first aid if it accidentally spills.

Meanwhile, pull out a few stickers to see which of them fit your barrette.

I arranged the emoticon-type fruity stickers to get an idea of the dimensions. Some left over adhesive on them helped as it stuck on and did not fall off.

Now gently squeeze a drop or two on the barrette surface that is bulged up. Place the sticker on it, and press the two surfaces hard. Use the blunt end of a pencil, the stirrer or your fingers.

If using fingers, careful please. Should some glue squeeze out when you press, do not try setting anything right. If it falls off, let it drop on to the cloth or paper below.

Let it dry for a while. And move to the next sticker.

In my case, I messed up a little on gauging the size of these stickers with their angles. So the apple sticker that you see in the picture above, did not stick well. I pulled out a few more stickers - melons, bananas...finally a pear sticker came to my rescue.

It is not the most perfect fitting one, but good enough to fix on a little girl's hair.

This is how it looks. You can bask in how well it turned out. But wait... Flip over.

 You don't mind these smudge marks on the rear don't you. I did not mind one bit. But then, I realized that the left over glue can mess up a little girl's hair. Wait till the barrette and stickers have dried. And dab a little white paint on the stirring stick, apply on the surface that is not sticking to the barrette clip.

Let this dry out as much as possible. Optional: I did not try it out, but you could probably pad on some decoupage glue or Mod Podge to give the rear a glossy finish. Otherwise, simply use it on a little princess' hair.

Let her go rock at that party...and you can stay happy these stickers did not go into trash.

Try this using cloth flowers and other materials, and let me know how it went.

Pictures Courtesy: Radhika M B

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