Transparent Beauty Accents


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Radha Prathi, January 8, 2016

The ever-rising urban buildings are making it increasingly difficult for the vintage homes that don’t go beyond the first floor at best to get their fair share of ventilation, despite the fact that they have not flouted a single rule about leaving enough space around their homes.

Though not much can be done about the new buildings, a little thoughtful makeover can actually lighten up the place. If you want your home to glitter and glimmer on all days and all times of the day, glass is the way to go.  You don’t have to actually construct a new building to integrate glass in your building. A little imagination coupled with some professional help can translate your home or office into a state-of-the-art premises.

These days, we get glass sheets that are as strong, if not stronger, than corrugated sheets. They can be bullet-proof, transparent, smoky or featured with visibility from one side. You can make an educated choice about this. Once fitted, these partitions will prove to be cost effective in the long run. The number of walls to be maintained will come down. Plus, the new walls will spell low-maintenance rates. If your electricity bills come down because you don’t reach out to switch on the lights, fans or air conditioner as often as before, then consider that to be an additional bonus. Here are a couple of practical and economical glassy solutions that can transform any area into a roomy, well-lit and expandable place.

Bring them down

Old buildings take up a lot of interior wall space. When renovating such places, take a careful stock of the walls that can be done away with. For instance, you can consider the walls that can be brought down to make way for open kitchens, dining areas, corridors, foyers and service areas.

Once you decide on the walls that are going to come down, remember that the entire wall should not be affected. It will be wise to leave about six inches of it from the floor upwards and about two feet from the roof downwards.

The wall should be immediately plastered and allowed to cure for a couple of days before proceeding with the work. Plain or stained glass of your choice can be fit between the bracketing walls of the ceiling and the flooring. Those of you who value their privacy, can unleash their creativity and paint on the glass.

One of the best ways to make glass an intrinsic part of your home decor is to bring in glass paintings, specifically, DIY glass paintings. First of all, decide on a design and then, simply print it out in the exact dimensions you need. Place the glass on the sheet. Procure a small sample tin of black acrylic oil paint and a set of pearl paints. You will also need some thinner to erase mistakes that you might make and two round-tipped brushes numbered triple zero and one.

You could fill in the colours in a series of sittings. When you draw the outline and paint, you are actually working on the reverse side. If you want to give special effects like shading and dimensions, remember that in glass painting, the colour applied first will be seen foremost. In other words, it makes perfect sense to use your shading techniques in the reverse format for best results.
Make them portable

There are times when we feel the need for a temporary wall, say near the wash basin or one corner of the study room or even in the drawing room. At such times, a portable glass wall can come in handy. Glass walls need not always extend from top to bottom. Nowadays, you can have frosted or stained glass cut and fit into a metallic or wooden frame. If you choose to use plain glass and then paint on it, your very own personalised wall will be ready. You can fit small wheels at the bottom and a little stopper to make it portable.

Matter of strength

For those of you who do not want to use glass sheets because they might obstruct air circulation, glass pillars happen to be the next best option. Long, slender, readymade columns are available in all circumferences, heights, designs and colours. There are some firms which also take orders and make customised pillars that can be installed around the home, according to your necessity. Lighting between the pillars, either from the top or bottom, can actually add an ethereal appeal.

The cost of glass pillars is certainly much more than glass walls. If you are apprehensive about the cost factor, it can be a better idea to have a pillar or two on either end or in the middle and have narrow panels of glass fitted in between. This measure will take care of your ventilation needs too.

Outside in

Balconies, porches or sit-outs that face busy streets can be a perpetual problem because they keep gathering dust. Such places can be best covered with a strong and suitable variety of glass. Ensure that the glass can be slid open and close, to let in air as and when necessary. You can also go in for translucent glass, wherein, you will get plenty of light and also avoid people peeping into your homes. There’s a ‘glass solution’ to almost every decor challenge at home!

Glass Painting DIY


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Stained glass paintings that adorn ancient and classical structures have served as an inspiration to a simpler form which can tried out by you with a little patience and talent.

If you visit your stationery shop or fancy stores in your neighbourhood, you are likely to find readymade glass painting kits accompanied with instructions. You will find that there are kits that suit your age and experience with this genre of painting. You could try out one or two of them just for the fun of it and then try out something on the given lines to make your work unique.

Decide on design first

First of all, decide on a design and draw it on a sheet of paper. If you are not good at drawing, get hold of a design that appeals to you no matter how complicated it might appear.

Then go to a hardware shop that sells plain glass and get a plain glass of four mm thickness cut to the exact size of your design. Get the edges of the glass grounded so that it does not hurt while you are handling it.

When the glass is ready, procure a small sample tin of black acrylic oil paint and a set of pearl paints. You will also need some thinner to erase mistakes that you might make and two round-tipped brushes numbered triple zero and one.

It is important that you should complete the outline in one sitting; therefore set aside around two hours when you are not likely to be disturbed.

Place the glass over the design and draw the outline using the oil paint and the triple zero brush. In case you make mistakes, dab the error spot with a drop of thinner and wipe it away using cotton wool.

Make sure that it does not leave any stain on the glass. When the outline is done, leave it to dry for at least four to five hours You could fill in the colours in a series of sittings.

When you draw the outline and paint, you are actually working on the reverse side. If you want to give special effects like shading and dimension, remember that in glass painting, the colour applied first will be seen foremost.

Therefore you must use your shading techniques in the reverse format. For instance, if you are painting sunset or sunrise on paper, you will paint the main colour, orange, first and then tinge it with yellow, but in this form of glass painting you should tinge the yellow first and then get on with orange.

These techniques require some expertise and imagination because you have to think on the lines of a corollary.

If you want the wavy effect, you must work on the outermost layer first. If you want to get dimensional effect of space you should make tiny dabs with paint in a darker shade along the outline.

Once you are through with the painting you get it framed in such a manner so that the side you worked on is at the back.

Shall We Tell Leafy Tales


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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!

DIY— Plaster Of Paris – Elephants


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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.

Organic Jam


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The Australian visitors’ minds oscillated between adoration and abhorrence.

In the recent past, I spent some quality time with a couple of Australian youngsters and their professor. They were on their first visit to India and had landed in ‘Namma Bengaluru.’ It was easy to see the surge of mixed feelings in them.

They seemed to be awestruck, appalled and antagonised all at once. They were stocked with their knowledge of our beloved land, based on what they had heard from expatriates and googled for themselves.

If the wall murals of our city had them squealing with delight and keeping their cameras busy, the heat had them gasping for breath, the civic sense of the locals who merrily violated decorum sickened them.

The traffic jam evinced the poets in them as they steadily rhymed every T jam with a ‘damn’ at every signal. It was easy to see that their minds oscillated between adoration and abhorrence from their steady exclamations.

They were eager to make the most of their visit and simply could not wait to backpack and set off to our heritage spots. A week passed by and they were back in the ‘painted city’ as they called it.

The tour had its magical effect on them. They were gushing over the beauty of the temples, sand dunes, beaches and the sculptures. They had picked up bags full of souvenirs to take back home and were all set to leave our ‘jammed city’ (another expression coined by them) to another part of India.

Due to unforeseen circumstances they were stranded here for the next four days. They decided to make the best of a bad bargain by driving around the place and taking in some of the many aspects missed by them hitherto.

This time around I was surprised to see a sea change in their attitude about the ‘jam.’ The professor’s take on the subject was truly enlightening. He said that the traffic situation out here did disgust him initially but over a period of time he found it to be ‘organic’ in nature.

He marvelled at the fact that so many vehicles jostled with one another to get ahead, whereas back home in Australia people would persistently stick to their respective lanes even in the middle of the night though other lanes could  practically be empty.

He was also struck by the ‘organic’ (read as eco-friendly) nature of Bangaloreans, because most of the four wheelers on the road seemed to be second hand cars.

He was thoroughly impressed by the various banks and used car dealers who not only offered loans to buy cars but also helped them, re-paint, repair, revivify and register the roadsters and save our planet earth from becoming the dump yard of more than its fair share of inorganic waste.

At first, I wondered whether he was being sarcastic, but his earnest tone and demeanour made me look at my dear old Bangalore and its people in a new perspective!

Jumbo Lamp DIY


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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.

Set In Stone


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The Flintstones have always made me look at stones with a creative eye. In fact, most of us have been fascinated by odd looking stones or pebbles as kids. If we get a chance to rummage our cupboards from childhood, we are likely to find a few such stones.

Have you ever thought of converting them into paperweights or showpieces? If not why don’t you try it now?  Take out the entire collection of your stones; segregate them in terms of size, shape, smoothness and weight. Then scrub them clean with soap and water. You could use an old toothbrush to tease out the dust, soil and grime in the body of the stone. Once the stone or the pebble is clean, you could set out to find the material essential for transforming your vision into reality.

You will need basic colours of enamel paints – red, yellow and blue. You could mix the other colours of your choice by the trial and error method. You will realise that it is more fun mixing your own colours than using readily available colours.

You will also need a nylon bristled brush numbered two. A tiny amount of thinner and a rag cloth is a must. When there is an error in the painting, wipe it away with a rag cloth first. Then apply thinner with an old brush and wipe it clean all over again. This will help you to wipe away your mistakes without a trace. You will find a 6-B drawing pencil and an eraser handy.

If it is a smooth round or an oval shaped pebble, then draw a cartoon face on the stone with the pencil. Once you are satisfied with your outline you could go ahead and paint it according to your fancy.

If it is a rugged stone you could paint a miniature landscape or a scene of sunset on a beach. (The unevenness of the stone will add life to the mountains and waves and give a 3-D effect to your painting.)

If it is a fairly smooth, but an oddly shaped flat stone you could paint the entire stone in one hue to create a backdrop and then write a suitable proverb or saying or even your new year resolution on it with a pencil and paint on it again with a contrast colour. (This way you will have created your own stone edicts.)

If you are hesitant about your painting skills, bring out your sequins, odd buttons, beads, ornate sticker bindis and any other mini object that you fancy and arrange them tastefully on the stone and once you are satisfied with the net effect glue them on.

These decorated stones could adorn your study or work tables, the tops of your cupboards, your mantel piece or your showcase.