A thoughtful process of Creation

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A journey of creation is a continuous learning process. How the journey of this key holder began? We, Indians, are staunch believers in positive vibes. We welcome everything new in our houses with celebration, positivity, and prayers. So, how do you welcome a new house? With something Shubh and what better than Om.

A key holder is a utility item in the house, but it can be turned into a piece of art. This is what we tried to achieve here. This key holder has the attribute of being compact and still has 4 key hanging hooks. Now comes the part of where we add art for it to look beautiful.

Firstly, which art should be used – kundan work, cone work or paper craft. Art doesn’t come with a set of rules, it is developed as we go along. So, cone work was chosen with interspersed kundan work, but it was left to how the cone work will look like and whether kundans would really be needed or not. As you see, the final result doesn’t have kundans. A variety of paper craft can be done for the key holder, but our endeavor is to create something economical for the customers.

So, colours were chosen thinking maybe this product will be placed at the entrance. It was thought for the colours to be bright but not gaudy in totality. While creating, it was thought which design should be made with different cone colours and going along the colour interactions were considered. Finally, the key holder was complete when cone work was apt and not overdone.

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There is a scope of improvement in the finesse of cone work. Moreover, we will most definitely incorporate feedback from the end users into the product. It will be great if you tell us your views about the Om key holder and the process behind it– just scribble a post on our page www.facebook.com/melangehandicrafts or mail us at melangehandicrafts@gmail.com

Signing off 🙂

My story with Terracotta and Ceramics so far….

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There is a ghastly difference when an artist buys an art piece and when any other person buys an art piece. My mom and I were checking out handicrafts at a store. I came across a glazed beer mug. My reaction, “Omg! So cheap!” and my mother’s reaction, “Omg! So expensive”. I realized it was glazed terracotta.

My fascination with clay dates back to 11th grade. I loved the clay modelling classes in school. The fascination just grew watching different clay pieces at Dilli Haat. Well! The fascination turned into curiosity as I heard terms like Terracotta earrings, Ceramic, Clay modelling, and Pottery. Thanks to Mr. A. M. Banerjee who recently encouraged me to learn Ceramics from Mrs. Vibha Sharma at South Delhi Polytechnic College that I understand these terms somewhat. On first thought, I decided to research sources on terracotta and ceramics and write this blog post, but then I thought why not write what I personally learnt.

Ever wondered why terracotta earrings are high priced? There is a huge process that goes into making them. Let’s begin with the design. So, firstly one decides on what you want to create. Clay preparation is a very important part that affects so much the ease with which one can create their work. The clay is kneaded till right consistency. If it’s too hard then cracks will develop as you work and if it’s too soft then your work won’t be sturdy enough. An interesting fact is that in clay work the adhesive used is clay itself. Slip – clay mixed with water- is used to hold clay parts together. Different dilutions may be used for different purposes. So how is this sticky, soft, and pliable material so hard at the end? It’s baked! But before it can be baked it is allowed to stand to dry completely that may take days. The clay pieces need to be hollow for air to expand else they will burst during baking. The baking goes on for min. 3 hours. The kilns varies in sizes. After baking, the finished product is yet not ready. The baked product is smoothened with sand paper and before painting coated with texture white. People in love with terracotta would prefer to leave it in its original crimson red color. To give it just a little shine, diluted fevicol can be applied.

Let me clarify the terms I mentioned above. Terracotta is natural crimson red colored clay, while ceramic clay is white in color and prepared by mixing different like china powder etc. Ceramic clay is more chemical in nature and thus hardens more easily. Terracotta is baked at a lower temperature than ceramic. Ceramic work is more technical. Color is given to ceramic by glazing. Glazing is like a huge lab experiment. A perfect formula of mixture of different oxides is reached to get the desired color. It is first tested in a smaller kiln. Glazing is what one sees on the ceramic crockery. So, ceramic is fired in kiln twice.

Pottery is higher skill than terracotta and ceramic. A minimum of 6 months is required to getting your hand set on a potter’s wheel. My journey in the world of clay continues. Clay sculptures make my heart pound. Future posts would speak more about this art.

Signing off

Shopping for raw material

Shopping is an exhilarating activity esp. for women, but is it so when you are fishing for raw materials to create your ideal product? Hmmm…a definitive YES for me. The moment I see the perfect material for my conceptualized product, my eyes gleam,there’s a perky smile, and at times I do a little joy dance too. A consumer may appreciate your product, but at the end of the day it comes down to the price. So, I feel buying good quality material but at wholesale rates becomes important. Now, this in itself was a challenge for me because having lived in Delhi for ages I never had been to wholesale markets. So lets analyse a “wholesale market”. A place crowded such that you have to save yourself from being hit by a cart or crushed between people, be ogled if you are a girl, and has niches of different goods. On the hand, it’s a hustling bustling mela of people, colors, and sounds.

My first task was to know which all and where all are the wholesale markets. Next, which wholesale market do I find my requisite raw material? In a span of two months, I roamed around Chandni Chowk, Chawri Bazaar, Sadar Bazaar, Kotla, Panchkuian, Paharganj and yet to explore Nai Sadak. I believe I have to visit more to remember the galis and find more of my requirements and yet at an even lesser cost. One thing I totally loved about these markets. Every shopkeeper is welcoming and helpful. If they don’t have what I need, they will still take out few minutes of their time to tell me which shop or gali I will find it. I believe this is the business sense in Delhi in general and a lovable trait about my city. This is where I come back to one of the reasons I began this blog. Supposedly, I watch a you tube video, it will say use “packaging peanuts” and sitting in India I will be like where on Earth can I find these???E commerce gives a solution but then the purpose of buying raw material at lower cost to offer your customer the best price is defeated. So it becomes essential to survey the wholesale markets, sometimes for a long time, to get to what exactly you want.

A bit of preparedness goes into these trips. First, jot down all the raw material, howsoever varied. The idea is to cut down on the transportation cost per product. Wear your best walking shoes when going for day long shopping spree. Always carry one big and one small water bottle, lots of quick bites like tiny biscuit packs or chocolates or swiss cakes, and at least two big chunky shopping bags. I mention all the sugary eats because they give you an energy boost that I think is needed to keep your spirits going.It is best to keep in mind your mode of transport, for instance, is there any material that metro doesn’t allow to carry?or is my car going to be able to enter small galis?One should anticipate the weight of materials they are buying so maybe you can buy the heaviest material in the end to save yourself some labor while walking or befriend a shopkeeper and station your material there. Another question for consideration is whether to go alone or be accompanied to wholesale markets. Personally, it feels safer with another person, there’s a second opinion, and it is a bonus if the person can bargain.Nonetheless, there might be more breaks in between shopping.

I think the most important thing while looking for raw materials in wholesale markets is to have a positive attitude and an observant eye. I find  things when I wasn’t even looking for them, but needed for some product idea. It is a tiring day, but quite fulfilling as it pumps my enthusiasm to create more beautiful products.

Signing off 🙂