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.


You have probably seen similar wall hangers on road sides sold at very nominal rates.

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Though there happens to be a steady market for this piece of handicraft, there is a tribe of people who refrain from purchasing these floral hangings just because they do not have the stamp of being exclusive. Here is a something you can craft on your own by giving it your special personal touch.

For this you will need ice candy sticks which are readily available in the market. You can also buy a few rare varieties of artificial flowers like sunflowers, gerberas, buttercups, marigold or buttercups instead of the regular roses and leaves which will compliment the flowers. You will need a quarter meter of green ribbon, some gold or silver coloured sequins a tube of glue and some varnish.

* First apply varnish on the ice candy sticks to give it the glossy look.

* If you happen to have old and curdled nail polish add a few drops of acetone to it and use it instead of varnish the effect will be much more glamorous.

* Once the ice candy sticks are dry, arrange them in a crisscross pattern till you are satisfied with the resultant shape of the grill and glue them into place.

* Stick the chosen sequins in the mid points where the ice candy sticks cross each other to give it the nailed in look.

* Bring out the assortment of the flowers you have and arrange them in the company of the leaves till you feel good about it. (Please keep in mind that you should not go in for too many dissimilar flowers especially if your stick grill is very small.)

* Stick the leaves first and then glue the flowers onto it so that the leaves will appear to be in the background and also allow some of the sequins to peep from here and there.

* Fold the green satin ribbon into a loop, turn the grill over and paste the ribbon all the way across the diagonal of the crisscrossed grill.

* This will help the ribbon to bear the weight of the piece without any strain.

* Even if the green ribbon appears to peep out at places, it will not be an eyesore because it will blend with the leafy greenery which is on the front side of the grill.

* Now you will have your very own wall hanging ready. These finished pieces can be hung over study tables or even mantelpieces.

* They can really stand out in narrow or small wall areas. They look their best when they brighten the pelmet regions above the door or when hung on the doors themselves.

Christmas Décor

Christmas is round the corner.

If you have still not decided about the decoration for the coming event, here are a few eco-friendly and cost effective ideas to do up your place. Make sure that your attempt at beautifying gratifies all the senses.

Collect the outer leafy covers of maize and sort them out in terms of size. Bring out your water colours and brushes and streak the leafy covers in various hues and leave them to dry. Staple each whorl to the tip of the last whorl to desired lengths and hang them up as festoons.

Collect coconut husks and tear them apart with your fingers till they appear uniform in texture.

Spread them evenly on a newspaper. Bring out your turmeric or powdered food colours. Sprinkle the colour over the husk. Repeat the process with various colours of your choice. You can use the coloured husks as the flooring of the manger.

Bring out all the Xmas and New Year cards that you have received. Tie a string across the manger area and clip the cards on the string at equal intervals. You could fasten balloons in the gaps to add to the festive look. Bring out all the unused plastic water bottles and cut them in such a way that the conical part is separated from the rest.

Fill the cylindrical base with different coloured waters (use food colours or paints) and place them strategically in the main décor or as a border. Float multi-coloured sequins in them during the day and lighted candles in them during evenings.

When placing lit candles in open areas, place the conical section of the bottle sans the cap over them so that they serve as a unique transparent lampshade. Fill small plates with chocolates and toffees wrapped in bright colours as little mounds and place them between the candles. These can be given away to young guests and refilled from time to time.

If you have interesting pictures or posters relevant to the holiday season tape them onto the background wall tastefully.

Flower arrangement need not always translate into bouquets; buy a couple of yards of strung marigold or chrysanthemum which are likely to last for a couple of days in this weather and hang them as festoons. The smell of these flowers will keep the mosquitoes and flies away.

Light incense sticks and place them in potted plants, so that the ash can spill into the soil besides making the area fragrant.

Play soft instrumental music to please the ears while filling the home with harmony.

Button Décor

Buttons come in an amazing range of shapes and sizes. Some of them are so beautiful and exotic that one feels like fretting because we don’t have matching clothes.

Here is an idea that you could follow to create your very own special wall hanging using ordinary white shirt buttons.

Things needed: A poplin black cloth measuring ten inches by fourteen inches, one packet of white shirt buttons having twin eye-holes only (usually one gross),two or three strings of tiny silver coloured beads, some skeins of blue, green and pink embroidery thread, sewing thread and needle.

You could sketch of a picture of a swan, crane or any bird for that matter on butter paper and transfer the design on to the black cloth using white carbon sheet. Once your design is ready, you should cover the design by stitching the buttons and the beads over it.

Thread the needle with a double length of considerably long thread and knot it at the bottom. Start working at the head region of the bird and move towards the tail.

Pass the needle from underneath and insert one eye-hole of the button through the needle, then introduce two silver beads and then pass the needle through the other eye-hole of the button to the bottom of the cloth.  Repeat this process such that the buttons overlap each other uniformly in one direction giving the effect of smoothed feathers.

Once the bird is completed you could embroider a water line using the blue embroidery thread, an embroidered lotus could add ambience to the presence of the swan.

The completed work could be framed and displayed on your mantel piece to reflect your creativity.

Needle Craft

During most festivals in South India, women gift each other blouse pieces in random materials and colours.

Needle craft

This piece of fabric is almost never put to good use. Once the charm of the festival wears off, it is either discarded or palmed off on another unsuspecting soul!

All you need to do to transform this square bit of fabric is to let your imagination run riot as you embellish it, cut it and stitch it into something new, useful and exciting!
First, bring out all the blouse pieces you’ve collected over the months at weddings, pujas and house-warming ceremonies of friends and relatives. Divide them into neat piles in terms of their material.

The soft 2x2s and cottons can be converted into quilts, while polyesters and silks can be used to make cushion covers. Start pairing them: similar shades could go together or contrasting shades could make a pair.

Bring out your sewing kit with its secret cache of lace, zari, sequins, beads and buttons that you’ve been squirrelling away so that the final product can be embellished accordingly.

If you want, you could stitch dresses for your daughter’s dolls and curtains for her doll’s house. You could even make string bags and dainty purses to store your trinkets, beads and baubles. Best of all, you could make flowers which in turn can be strung into ‘thoranas’.

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Cut the cloth into perfect circles of varying or uniform radius. Run an even tack with thread and needle along the circumference of the circle. Draw the thread in such a way that the circle transforms into a little bag. Gently pat the side on which the stitch lies till it flattens into a little flower and fasten the stitch into a knot.

Make covers for your electronic goods and other household items and paint them. The blouse bits can be stitched into one large length of fabric and then stitched on the lines of a pillow cover, keeping one side open.

Cut the two-layered, multicoloured cloth into desired sizes and then stitch the open side (on the lines of a pillow cover) leaving a little opening to reverse the bag. Sew the opening and then iron the cover before you paint it.

Plait the cloth according to the instructions given below and make your own fancy mats on which you could place telephones, vases and fruit bowls. Picot the edges of the cloth and cut it into three, equal pieces. Place the three pieces one over another and stitch them firmly at one end.

Plait the three ribbons all the way till the end, stitch the plait by placing the three pieces one over another. Coil the plait in any shape you want and glue it on to a rexine sheet of the same shape. Happy sewing!

Jumbo Lamp DIY

How about making your own designer diya this Deepavali? Here is an idea to make your own jumbo lamp.

For this you will need traditional earthen lamps, M-seal, oil-based primer, black and white sample tins of enamel paint, fabric paints, two flat brushes numbered four, two round-tipped brushes numbered triple zero, coloured sequins , some mirrors and fevicol.When choosing earthen lamps for this project make sure that the lamps have considerable depth. Note: This feature is essential for giving the lamp the jumbo look.

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Take two earthen lamps and seal them together back to back with M-seal .Take some more M-seal and roll it into an oval shaped ball and pinch one end of the ball and shape it into a trunk. You will get the shape of an elephantine face. Seal this face onto the inverted lamp. Shape elephant ears with M-seal and fix them on either side of the countenance of the elephant. You could roll out a small lump of M-seal and fix the tusks of the elephant.

Once the structure of the elephant is ready apply primer with a flat brush and let the piece dry. Mix black and white paint on the palette so that it turns into an elephantine grey and apply it evenly on the elephant. You can use colours of your choice for the inner and the outer surfaces of the lamp. Once the lamp is dry, mark the eyes of the elephant using black paint. You could also mark the outline of the feet and mark a tail at the back with black enamel paint using the triple zero brush.

Use the white paint to colour the nails on the feet of the elephant and also the tusks. You can embellish the jumbo by applying vibhoothi or a nama (sacred tilak) using white paint with the triple zero brush and put a red dot as kumkum. You could fix sequins and mirrors to beautify the outer surface of the lamp of the elephant in a colour of your choice and now your elephant lamp is ready for use.

Name Plate DIY

The tradition of naming buildings bestows it with a distinct identity…


These names are displayed in a variety of materials and designs in both traditional and creative styles. Earlier, people used skilled workers and dollops of cement to engrave the names and the date of construction. Then these nameplates were painted in bright and contrasting colours to draw attention. Later, home owners started to use different materials to engrave names. Twisted electric bulbs which represent the alphabets are used in a coherent manner and are placed on top of high rise buildings. Some people also illuminate the names of homes by fixing tiny colourful, shimmering zero-watt bulbs in the aspect of the alphabet. The digital era has meant names are displayed on electronic screens. There are options such as the use of  brass and stainless steel for the engravings. These letters are nailed in or screwed on to boards and are placed in strategic spots on the frontage or on the terraces of constructions. Material like wood, wrought iron, pebbles, marbles and even gravel have been used ingeniously to highlight names in a creative manner.

Here is a suggestion to make a nameplate for your home or office which will appear like designer’s stuff basically because you have crafted it yourself. For doing so, you’ll need a random plank of wood which is at least two feet in width and a foot in height, two or three tubes of m-seal, some fabric paints in metallic shades, carpenter’s wax, varnish, one round and one flat brush numbered six and a meter of brass chain or a meter of strong nylon cord in a colour of your choice.  Get the edges of the plank rounded and the surface smoothened on either side by a carpenter if you cannot do it yourself.  Get two holes drilled at comfortable intervals at least two inches below the top edge to facilitate a metallic or an acrylic cord to pass through it. The geometrical shape of the wooden plank is of no essence because the base of the name plate needs to be unique in a natural base of its own. Do not bother to correct the shape or arrive at some symmetry.

In fact, if the edges are awry the effect will be better. Once the base is cut out, apply carpenter’s wax wherever you see fissures and apply a coat of pesticide followed by a coat of varnish on both sides of the wooden base.

Use a light pencil to write out the name in the given space. This way you could correct, adjust and alter to the desired effect. Once you are satisfied with the lettering and the spacing of the name, you can knead m-seal and draw it into a thick cord. Then firmly hold the m-seal cord with one hand and twist it in such a way that the net result appears to be uniform. Then place the length of the m- seal on the lettering. Once the letters are fashioned on the wooden base. If you have a penchant for art you could fashion little flowers, birds, geometrical shapes or spiritual symbols in m-seal and place them around the name in order to embellish it further.

When the m-seal dries, bring out your favourite metallic colours and paint them gaily. This board can be used on either side of the name plate. You could use English lettering on one side and the local language on the other.  Pass the brass chain or the plastic cord through the drilled holes and hang the customised nameplate.