DIY– Food Grain Jewelry

Have you ever thought of adorning your walls with your favourite collection of jewellery, simply to add bling to your bare walls? Mostly not! Ornaments invariably cost a pretty penny especially if they are set in precious metals, and besides it is not a sensible idea to exhibit it where everyone can see.

Yet if you want your decor to be different, you could put your artificial fare on show but they are likely to lose their sheen over a period of time.

Here is an idea you could use to make your own designer costume jewellery with cost effective-material and use it as wall decor?

All you need are food grains of different varieties, hard cardboard, purple or maroon coloured velvet paper, fabric glue, some gold and silver sparkle colours and a transparent nail polish.

Wash the chosen food grains and let them dry completely.

The most authentic looking gemstones will be found in the green gram which can pass off for jade, masoor dal for pink pearls, boiled rice for rice pearls, black gram for black pearls and cow peas for agate.

First cut out the cardboard in any other shape of your choice. Paste the velvet paper over the board without forming any crease.

Arrange food grains in patterns that your imagination fancies and paste them as necklace, a pair of ear-rings and a finger ring. In other words simulate a traditional jewel box that houses a set of jewellery.

Apply the nail polish carefully over the food grains. They not only will provide them the sheen but will protect them for a long time to come. You could intersperse the grains with dabs of gold or silver paint to give it the metallic touch.

Once the adhesive dries, punch a hole at the centre point towards the top and pass a piece of satin lace and knot it into a loop.

Then, place a thin film of transparent plastic sheet over the work and tape the same firmly at the back. This measure will protect your work from dust and the active fingers of curious admirers.

Select a spot on your wall to hang your work of art.

Shall We Tell Leafy Tales

Folk art

Age-old: The colourful art of ‘tala patachitra’. Photos by Dilip Banerjee

Centuries before paper was invented, our ancestors hit upon the idea of using hardy dried leaves as paper.

They were known as patra, which means both letter and leaf in most Indian languages. Students processed palm leaves not only for their use, but also for their teachers and scribes who were engaged in making copies of important manuscripts.

Processing palm leaves was no mean task, but it was certainly fun–filled too! Palm fronds cut freshly from the tree were allowed to dry partially for a couple of days in sunlight and buried in swamps for a week so that they became sturdy.

Later, the leaves were washed and dried completely in the shade and cut along the borders so that they formed rectangular pages measuring eight to 12 inches in breadth and about an inch or two in height. Sometimes, when longer sheets of palm paper were required, they were sewn together using plant fibre.

Once the palm paper was ready for use, a fine tipped iron stylus (pencil) was used to etch the words or diagrams on the leaf so that they made a depression without actually damaging the leaf.

Then powdered vegetable dyes, usually charcoal powder made from burnt coconut shells, were mixed with sesame oil and rubbed over the leaves in such a way that the colours settled down in the depressions. The palm leaves were then coated with turmeric powder mixed with sesame oil to add sheen and strength to the leaves. Other colours rarely got an entry in the form of writing.

If at all they were used, they were subdued tones used as fillers. Vegetable and mineral colours were used for highlighting or painting in the traditional form. This ethnic art form essentially consisted of inscribing letters and artistic designs on palm leaf, mostly cut into standard sizes and held together with two wooden plank covers stringed through a hole in the centre.

They were then bundled together and wrapped in silk or cotton cloth for safe keeping. Our ancient texts like the vedas, puranas, epics, scripts of plays and treatises have been passed on to us on palm paper.

Over a period of time, when paper was invented and mechanisation made it possible for it to be easily available, paper made from palm leaves made an exit. Today, these processed leaves are used as canvas on which creative artists showcase their talent. Thus was born a new genre of art called tala patachitra.

The creative artists of Orissa decided to explore the possibilities of using the processed palm leaf to give expression to their sketching skills. They translated scenes from the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata and mythological lore like the Dashavatara and Bhagavatha in the form of paintings.

Some artists lent their imagination exclusively to different poses of Krishna, particularly as Jagannath, the reigning lord of Puri. As time passed by, artists experimented with different motifs which they etched ever so delicately on the fragile looking yet sturdy eco-friendly canvases.

This art was so charming and fascinating that the artisans who were interested in the art congregated in the district of Puri and worked together on various projects.

The act of contributing their talent and enterprise on a large scale continues till date. In fact, it is very heartening to note that the Government of India has allotted an exclusive area called Craft Village in Raghuraipur in the district of Puri.

The tourist department of the state has included a sojourn to this haven of art to ensure that all the visitors to the state have an opportunity to have at least a glimpse of this intricate art in the making.

Even small children of this village are encouraged to learn this art form. They generally start with etching figures of landscapes, animals, birds and flowers on their own. They are then guided into the primary stage of the art of fine etching when they are taught engraving short popular verses from the Bhagavadgita, Bible and Koran with a steady, beautiful hand.

Of late, some enterprising artists use fabric and acrylic oil paints to colour their art. They have also evolved colourful stickers of the traditional art which can be transferred to the processed leaves. These ravishing stickers appear exotic but are bestowed with a very short life (for they peel off when scratched accidentally) unlike their original counterparts which have withstood the test of time.

This novel method is only a couple of years old and is used mainly for making book marks, greeting cards, invitation cards, company annual agendas and brochures. Several prestigious companies of national and international repute are opting for this art form increasingly.

Tala patachitra artists are very possessive and proud of their rich heritage and do not want to compromise on the well proven ancient technique. Moreover, the response of the market for their native art is steady and is going global — enough to keep their hearts and hearths warm!

Make Your Own Zany Bookmarks

Are you sometimes at a loss as to what to do when you are bored? Why don’t you make bookmarks for yourself and your friends?

Usually bookmarks are long strips of thick paper with cartoons, cool pictures or funny sayings.
Here’s a quick and simple way of making very special bookmarks. You would need a few ice-cream spoons, varnish, two round brushes numbered triple zero and a set of fabric paints.
*  Apply varnish on either side of an ice-cream spoon
*  Paint the hair line, eyebrows, eyes and eyelash of the Indian woman’s face with utmost care, in black
*  Use a pale shade of red to draw a line to suggest the nose.
*  Use maroon to paint the lips and mark a bright red bindi on the forehead
*  You could dab tiny green and gold in dots along the neckline to imply a necklace
*  You could sign and write a brief message on the back of the spoon with an ink pen
Your exotic Indian face is ready for use as an unusual bookmark.1 (5)

DIY-Stylish Stand

Stylish stands

Many of us hesitate to light incense sticks in drawing rooms and halls because the remnant ashes may cause a mess. Here is an idea to make a useful item like an Agarbatti stand which will not only hold your incense sticks but will also contain the ashes, thereby preventing them from spreading all over the place.

Some flower bouquets bought from florists are arranged in small earthen bowls with a mesh wire covering to hold the flowers in place.  Once the flowers wilt, the earthen ware loses its utility and is usually cast away because it is too much of a trouble to remove the mesh.

It cannot be used as a pot to grow ornamental plants because it does not have a drain hole and make for perfect agarbatti stands. Once you identify the bowl, find some sea shells, snail shells, odd beads, glue, old or thickening nail polish and some acetone.


Step 1: Wash the earthen bowl well and paste the sea shells on them randomly so that there is very little gap.

Step 2: Paste beads or snail shells in the gaps such that they appear ornamental.

Step 3: Thin your nail polish with acetone and apply a coat of it on the shells to hide the frayed or scratched look and add to its sheen.

If you have a flair for painting, you could work on a similar base to give it a quaint painted look. Wash the base thoroughly and run a sandpaper over it. Bring out you fabric paints and let your imagination loose by trying out various motifs.

Once your Agarbatti stand is ready for use, you can place it in a corner even in your drawing room and add aroma to your environs in a unique and practical way.

DIY — Wired Penstand

The next time you come across a lot of plastic bottles, think twice before you dispose them; they could be turned into covetable objects of utility and beauty if you care to spend some time and imagination.

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Look at the picture alongside, to make a similar stand which can be used to place stationery, spoons or toothbrushes you need, used one-litre water bottles, a skein of plastic wire usually used for making clothesline, blade, adhesive, sequins, a lighted candle.


Cut the bottle, so that it measures five or six inches in height by using a hacksaw blade. Clean the base of the bottle thoroughly and rub the open end on a rough floor or stone to even out rough edges.

Burn one end of the wire at a burning candle to prevent it from unwinding at a later point of time. Apply adhesive on the bottle’s surface and wind the wire around evenly from top to bottom and see to it that the layers do not overlap each other. Burn the end of the wire again at the end of the exercise to ensure that the wire remains intact. Stick sequins of a contrasting colour in a pattern of your choice uniformly around the pen stand before you put it into use.

DIY —Glass Mantapa

You can create a special mantapa for your family deity if you spend a little time and employ a little patience and creativity.

You need to buy 4mm glass and one gross of smallest sized glass bottles (Usually available in shops selling laboratory material), some colourful marbles, a glass marker pencil and a tube of glue. Get the glass cut into five squares measuring. Two of which should measure as a twelve inch square and the other three measuring 10, 8 and 6 inches respectively. Even if you happen to choose some other geometrical shape, keep in mind that the proportion should not alter. Two glasses meant for the base and the dome should be identical in size and the other should become smaller in uniform proportion. Get the edges of the glass ground so that they do not cut your hands while working on them or cleaning them later.

Wash the glass and the bottles in soapy water and allow them to dry and wipe it clean so that the dried up water droplets are not seen. Remember while pasting the glasses one on top of another, the opening should always face upwards. Draw diagonals across all the glasses with the marker. You can wipe the markings off with a swab of cotton after the completion of your work. Mark points on the four ends of the glasses with the pencil so that the point is exactly one inch away from corners of the glass and appears on the diagonal.

Take the twelve inch square glass and paste three glass bottles on each corner and let it dry.
They will form the cornerstones of your relic. Turn the glass over and work on the plain side. Place a glass bottles on each marked point and once you are satisfied with the symmetry glue it on. Place the next four bottles on the previously pasted bottles and repeat the process till it reaches a height of eight inches. They will form the pillars of the mantapa.

Place another glass measuring twelve inches on the four pillars and glue it on.

Once again place the glass bottles on the marked point, check out the symmetry and glue it on continue working on the new pillars till they measure two or three inches
Place the ten inch glass on the newly formed pillar and repeat the process and then place the square glass measuring eight inches and glue it on.

Now you have reached the topmost panel of your mantapa. You can place the bottles all around forming a small corridor on the terrace and glue them on.

You can use your imagination and pile the bottles in several ways to build the dome according to your taste. Usually a pyramid shape compliment a square base  best.

Paste the marbles on the open ended bottles to give it that touch of glamour.

DIY— Plaster Of Paris – Elephants

Most streets in big cities and highways are generally dotted with wayside vendors who sell plaster-of-Paris idols.

Unleash your creativity: How about some craft this Deepavali to serve as a decor element.PHOTO BY THE AUTHORMost of these remain uncoloured while a few are stained in golden, silver and bronze shades. These statues and flower vases come in some delightful classical and mythological forms. They are light and are available at relatively competitive prices.

A little effort, talent and patience on your part can transform these figurines into fabulous looking artifacts. You will need oil-based primer, water colours, fabric pearl colours and sparkle colours. Flat brushes numbered six and two round brushes numbered one and triple zero will see you through the transformation.

The only drawback with this form of art is that it is extremely fragile and can break if handled with excessive pressure. Take care that you handle the item with care when working on it. Wash the plaster of Paris articles thoroughly with water to remove the dust and grime from it. Apply a coat of oil-based primer using the flat brush and let it dry.

Use the round brushes numbered one and apply water colours according to your taste. Then, apply a primary coat on the figurine. You can overlook the nuances and the small embossed sections of the statue at this stage. This procedure will be helpful in giving the final product a fine finish and also will help you conserve considerably on the use of the expensive pearl paint. The water colour layer can be covered by pearl paint of similar or varying shades of the base colour.

Once the pearl colouring is done with, use the triple zero brush to work on the finer points to highlight the work on the figurine. Apply sparkle paints at strategic spots to highlight the work. Observe the intricate designs on the caparison and the forehead and trunk ornament of the elephant; you could innovate and integrate creative aspects according to the necessity of the statue that you may be working on. The finished product will certainly turn out to bring you much pride. As far as possible, place the painted artifact in a glass showcase so that it does not gather dust.

You can wash it with plain water when it gathers a lot of dust and let it dry on its own. This care will preserve your artistic endeavour for years to come.