“Hey, what are you doing!? This is no way to eat, please show some manners and use a spoon girl!,” my mother said sternly, while she noticed me eating my favourite dal-chawal (lentil and rice) with my hands. “Mom, it is delicious, I cannot resist. It is such a good feeling to eat using your hands and then licking your fingers, you too must try,” I said teasingly. “No way!!” she said in disgusted. “Mom, look how beautifully the colours are coming out, merging into each other – the red, the orange and the yellow…,” I screamed on the top of my voice for her to hear me while she was working in the kitchen… as I swirled my fingers round and round creating new patterns on the paper. Seeing my hands, all dipped in paint she said, “Oh my God! How many times do I need to tell you this. Your teacher said, please use a brush!”. I uttered, “Mom but…”. “ No!”, she said.
Working with my hands, creating something new each day, enjoying these little things in life comes naturally to me but, what does it give me? Why do I feel like creating a new pattern on a plain blank sheet? Why do I get that urge to twist and turn paper and make an object out of it? Why do I not get bothered over the messy clothes and fingers dipped in those colours? Happiness and joy is what it gives me and maybe I feel I add something to that idle piece of paper. I somehow have always felt great happiness while working with my hands, somewhere it gave me peace even as an eight year old little girl. I have always believed that working with your hands is good for your mind, body, and your soul rather than sitting on the desk for eight hours of the day and using that keyboard.
As a child I was always drawn towards paper, colours, ribbons and glue . I remember the time while I was in school, in the third standard. While the teacher was busy taking the class, I was engrossed in making those little birthday cards and diaries under the table! Naturally, I was caught but yet the feeling of accomplishment on completing the “illegal activity” overpowered the punishment.
I use paper of varied textures, colours and of different shapes and sizes. How beautifully every single piece of paper can be crafted, differently each time and every new creation has several emotions, thoughts and even mood swings behind it. A new story is created ,secretly shared between me and the paper. I started making little envelopes , diaries and pretty paper bags and slowly gifted them out to friends and family, often without any special occasion. Just a small gesture of gifting hand- made things itself created the occasion, special moments and memories of love and sharing.
It was my Aunt’s birthday when I gifted her a photo frame which did not even come out well enough according to me. She unwrapped it and exclaimed, “Oh my God! You made it especially for me… it is gorgeous”. I later on thought how it added to her happiness and excitement when she got to know that it was hand crafted. It made her feel special and loved.
There were times when I often sat in a depressed mood, when I did not feel good about anything but then, there is always something which we feel happy doing. For me, it was always working with my hands, my art. Initially, I was using this as a hobby to escape from difficult situations and bad moods but slowly I realized that more than just an escape, it was my way of expressing myself, learning a skill and creating something. The craft work proved to be the perfect healer in my life!
The process of turning the raw into the refined in itself is a treasure. Every new piece I start seems like an adventure to me, beautifully transforming into a heartfelt accomplishment. Now, I use wood, wooden frames, cut outs, paints and even the tiniest scrap at times which looks absolutely gorgeous when its finished. As I sift, shape, move and address my project I feel the inner being moves too, with a fresh inspiring energy.
There are times when I feel blocked and overwhelmed with all the raw material around me and I don’t know where to start and what to make. Sitting silently with all the colours and shapes floating in my imagination helps. Out of the blue a light bulb shows up revealing a creation that is born out of a space of this silence. The next step is simply jumping into action with full enthusiasm and the craft happens once again! At times it takes a few minutes and at other times an entire night. Patience and perseverance is the key.
A deep sense of satisfaction and smiles on the faces of others is what all this action brings. From the magic of the hands and the warmth of creating from the heart, emerges a soulful story of every artist.
by Sheetal Rastogi
Photo credits: Anurag Rastogi
To know about what brought more joy into this craftpot’s life, just click below-