Sunday, April 1, 2018

Fifth Anniversary - Waterproofing of quilled jhumkas - Tutorial and Review

Hello All,

Thank you so much for all the love you people have showered on us for past 5 years! It has been a roller coaster of a ride but what is life without some adventure thrown in!! Just like every year, we celebrate this anniversary with some love of sharing.........

All the crafters who make quilling jewellery groan (inwardly or otherwise) when their jewellery is compared with readymade, mass manufactured and impersonal alloy jewellery (most of it Made in China). We know the pain! Waterproofing of quilled jewellery has been its Achilles' Heel for a long time and most crafters struggle with answering the question: Will this jewellery get ruined when water falls on it?

We saw the problem for what it was. The customers want to make sure their money is worth it and the cost (of handmade jewellery) is justified too! So, we experimented with a host of resins and coating materials. The wall we kept hitting was: Importing the resin! Most resins available in India either had a short shelf like, or yellowed after some time! Since resin is susceptible to fire, it's transported via ships and that meant long waiting periods!

When Itsy Bitsy announced its line of resin (Lil Birdie: ), we seized the opportunity to try it on our quilled jhumkas..........we were a bit apprehensive as the reviews we had received so far said that the resin had a lot of bubbles upon mixing. We have worked around that problem and this video demonstrates how to use the resin on quilled jhumkas....

Happy Quilling Pritesh PS: If my posts inspire you to create something on similar lines, I feel highly flattered. But please, do respect the effort I take in conceptualizing and executing, please give a direct link to my work when you are inspired by mine. Thanks for understanding........:-)

Monday, March 6, 2017

A castle and some sand

Hello All,

One never really knows when a challenge will come one's way! When this frame order came, the deadline was highly inflexible - ONE WEEK (including courier) and there was no concept whatsoever. Starting from scratch becomes a little hard when you don't even know what to scratch! :D

The starting point finally became the initials of the family this frame goes out to. Their initials make the word SAND. So, sand castles, yay! Since the family is moving and will mostly likely be furnishing a new house soon, sand castle was all the more relevant :) The criterion was that the entire frame be colourful!

When time is short and order complex, beehive always comes to save the day! And since the last time we made a frame, we have acquired this additional expertise of polymer clay. Polymer clay saved the day by being both quick and 3-dimensional. The alphabets were sliced out of black clay and jazzed up with orange. While they baked, a simple castle was outlined using quillography and filled with beehiving. I was extremely lucky with the background paper as I had bought this beach themed paper almost 10 years ago and never did anything with it (talk about hoarding!!!)......

A work in progress photo (the only one that I took, unfortunately!). The alphabets aren't stuck there yet.....

And here it is (after a burnt night!)......

The extra shaded touch is acrylic paints 'rubbed' onto the beehive pattern :)

Happy Quilling


 PS: If my posts inspire you to create something on similar lines, I feel highly flattered. But please, do respect the effort I take in conceptualizing and executing, please give a direct link to my work when you are inspired by mine. Thanks for understanding........:-)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Entrepreneurship in Crafts...........some pointers.........

Point 1: Find Your Strength

Let us assume, that at this stage, you've decided to a reasonable degree that you are either tired of your current job (or lack of it) or you are feeling adventurous enough to seek new horizons.
The first stage of "deciding" is most likely to be: What do I start up in?
It's a reasonable (and the toughest) question. This reminds me of this quote by Jack Ma: The ultimate course of your life won't be decided by what you do at your job. It'll be decided by what you do outside of it (or something to that effect, I don't recall exactly)......
A question to ask yourself (and seek the answer to before you plunge head-first into any venture) is: What am I good at? Or What can I become good at? OR, What do I feel so motivated about that I want to be good at it?
I'll cite my example. I practiced various forms of Art almost all my life, alongside my 'mainstream' work at any time (School, College, Masters, PhD, Post-Doc times). Sketching, Rangoli, Painting, Quilling, Embroidery, Cooking, Baking, to name a few. And I felt an equal lack of confidence in all of them.......just knowing something isn't enough to get "good" at it. One must feel the confidence (to a reasonable degree) to convert it convincingly into a profession.
And at this stage, a very important question to ask yourself is: Will "I" buy the thing/service I've made/offered, if someone else was selling it to me (we will deal with the pricing issue later)?
And no, DO NOT think about whether you'd buy it for charity, or out of sympathy, or support. Will you REALLY REALLY buy it for its artistic value? If your answer is no, you need to get better at it, before you can convince someone else to buy it.
Please know that the world out there is a reservoir of talent. People do incredible things! With incredible consistency. If you wish to stand a chance at carving out a niche for yourself, the first step is to find out what you niche IS (or is going to be). Frankly, I still don't know mine. I'm just going with the flow......but I did know one thing. I was going to EVOLVE, always, forever........the day you stop evolving, you become dead and soon, a fossil! A relic from the bygone era.......
So, for deciding, do turn to your strongest sounding boards. People who will give you brutally honest feedback. I happened to be lucky to get one camouflaged as my husband.......but not everyone is likely to be.
So, seek out that friend/relative/confidante you trust with pointing you in the right direction, whether you like it or not. THOSE are the people who will help you figure out where your passion AND strengths are likely to be. The people who aren't mere bystanders when you grow, but the ones who will hold the ropes when you're clinging to them for life. The ACTIVE participants in your personal and professional growth. Not the who "don't mimd" that you succeed, but the ones who motivate you to do so......and celebrate it like their own.
And I'll finish it with an anecdote from my life....
This once, I made a Rangoli, which I deemed the best I ever made. It had intricate motifs, applied 'thought process' and so on. It even stood first in a competition. I showed it to my (then not) husband and he casually remarked: There is nothing great about it. It has no "feel" to it. It's just a beautiful execution of a lifeless idea.
I was affronted. I even went to the extent of thinking he was unappreciative of my efforts and thought I was seeing the wrong guy. I didn't speak with him for days! But he stood his ground. And after days of thinking, I realized that he probably was right. And THAT led to this, the best Rangoli I've made till date (it is my personal favourite)! When he handed me the image, he narrated a story. I FELT the story and I worked on this Rangoli for FIVE days straight.
Because, for the first time, I FELT my Art.......and it invoked feelings in others :)
So, is your Art invoking feelings? In you? In others?
Maybe, it's time to start groping for that one thing that moves you.......and moves others when they see it :)
Next instalment: Skill Development

Point 2: Skill Development

So!!! To continue the discussion on entrepreneurship.......
At this stage, I'm assuming you've figured out or decided what your calling/passion is and you're ready for taking the plunge.. ....
Here comes the stage where you need to decide how you're going to acquire the skill(s) you need or hone them, if you already have the basics. A good place to start is our dear old Google. Start with the very basic search on what the skill means, its History, development, the stalwarts of that profession, your idol and then, teachers (if you want to learn it from someone else).
There are two ways to go about skill development: Teaching yourself or Learning from a teacher. Both of them have their pros and cons. I'll take the teacher bit first because self-learning is a far more elaborate topic.
Once you decide upon the skill you need to develop, do a search on the people (nearby first) who teach it. For example, quilling. Find out who teaches quilling and till what skill level around you. One pointer to note here is motivation and inspiration. Does your prospective teacher's work motivate you to learn quilling? Does the teacher's inspire you to gain expertise in the field? If not, search till you find the one you're willing to invest time and money in. Research about the teacher, their method of teaching, what they believe in etc. Being in sync with your first teacher can be a make-or-break thing for your aspirations. Keep your questions ready and be thorough. Make full use of the opportunity and learn sincerely.
The advantage here is: Structured learning, systematic approach through levels of difficulty, ready - made answers to most of the questions.
Disadvantage: It can narrow your point of view if you go for project-wise classes (as opposed to technique-wise) and lack of access to good teachers (specially in more remote areas) can limit the level of skill you can acquire.
The second method (and my preference, because I am terrible at learning in a class type of setup) is self-help. This type is for those who are pig-headed when it comes to their dreams. And I definitely am!
This will involve a LOT more hard-work because there are no "one person/video/tutorial who know it all" out there. You're on your own to seek answers and mostly, learn things the hard way. I had an upper hand here, because I had a firm grasp of chemistry knowledge and decades of experience with a multitude of art media. But if you're new, this is an uphill task. Experenting with various media to know what works for you and how well is both time-consuming and expensive.
There are so many ways to teach Yourself and saying "I don't know" is criminal in this day and age. Thousands of helpful crafters have FILLED the Internet with tutorials. Don't underestimate the power of your fingertips combined with the power of Google/YouTube/Pinterest!!!!!
If you're not the self-driven kind, I'd recommend, go for the relatively easier option - learn from someone who is. Who has done the research, the one who's an expert, the one who has most of the answers.....
Once again, an anecdote to wrap it all up.....
I once had a prospective student who studied in the US, did her Masters and was haggling with me for "discount" on a workshop, saying my workshop was too expensive. I explained to her in many ways that it's a workshop meant to empower you with knowledge enough to become a professional jewellery maker, just like her Masters degree was, for which she never uttered the word 'discount'. If you're looking for something less intensive, I can recommend someone else whose workshop is more your budget. Her reply : I don't want to become a professional, I just want to learn it enough to pursue as a hobby and I want to learn from the best teacher (humble bow for praising me, Lady). So, reduce the cost to half (another humble bow for belittling my hard work and dedication right in the next sentence).
I humbly replied: Okay, I will reduce it to half. But I'll speak only alternate words of every sentence. That'll be enough to make you a hobby jewellery maker.
She hung up, and I got labelled as snobbish, unhelpful, too full of myself.....and a lot of other colourful names ;)
Hope the post helped you all....
Next topic: Finances

Point 3: Money

Aha! So, you've decided what you want to do, you've found your, come the thorny issue of money. Unpleasant though it is, money is an important thing to think about before you start-up. The difference between a "hobby" craft and "professional craft" is that in hobby, you do not have to worry too much about 'return of investment'. In profession, you have to. Because at least one out of the three are at stake: Your livelihood, Your Independence, Your relationships (of any kind!).
Yes! Relations break over money!
So, there are various sources of money one can think of while starting up. The most popular I've seen so far is self-funding or funding by husband/wife. For pride reasons, I opted for first. I kept investing a small part of my income (from my research jobs in India, Belgium and Sweden) into crafts, and built a tool collection over a course of almost 10 years.
You may need to make a big investment in the beginning to just get off the ground. You can try using up your savings, or to borrow (on a strictly returnable basis) from your spouse or some relative you trust. BEFORE you borrow, set the terms and conditions for both investment and return straight. Specially, return.
I can't emphasise on this point enough because if there is no set deadline, we tend to lull ourselves into a sense of false security. We forget about the "returns" we need to or ought to get from our hard-work. And when the money isn't returned in time (even to your own account), the range of emotions can vary from feeling like a pile of dung to guilt because of sitting on someone else's money.
NEVER ever work for free, not even for relatives and if there are people expecting you to work for free, they can't be your well-wishers. Your TIME is the most important investment, always charge at least for that (I'll come to the pricing issue later)......and if there is someone exploiting you or disrespecting your effort, they need to leave your life........pronto. SIMPLE!
The trouble with "free work" is "setting a precedent". Once you set the precedent, one freeloader will invite another and so on. It'll get THAT much harder to say no later. Set your boundaries clearly and never budge. Principles are going to be an important factor in Future.
The best way to work on return of investment is to dedicate yourself a "salary", irrespective of the investment (how much and wherever it is from). Once that rule is formulated, seriousness about the work creeps in automatically (unless you're cryogenically frozen!).......respect that. Wake up with goals, set goals, modify them if need be and STICK to them!
And yet again, an anecdote to end (there will be a second part of this post, after I've dealt with quality control issue)....
When I was in Pune, I never assigned myself a "salary".........things were just moving. But when I moved to Bangalore, the responsibility to "run the house" was assigned to me. My husband was very clear: No equal contribution, no equal rights! And that's the BEST thing to have happened to me. I started planning my finances, investments, I became disciplined and I became feverishly dedicated to my work. And well, Art'zire is here for all to see :) So, let someone kick your butt and set you to work! It's a GOOD thing! ;)
Next few topics (I may vary the order a bit):
Quality Control
Time management (specially for women with children)

Point 4: Pricing

Ah that thorny issue of pricing!!!!!
There are many ways to go about pricing simply because "hand-made" comes with this side effect that it's inherently hard to quantify "effort". A lot of people will think you're over-pricing. Many others will think you're under-pricing. The factor that is going to be most important here is: SELF-ASSESSMENT.
There are two semi-quantitative ways of calculating 'effort' input. One is "Top down" approach and the other, "Bottom up" (I have Ananthakrishnan to thank, for that piece of Mathematics) :)
Coming to top down first, let us say you want to make X amount of money per month and you will be working n hours per day and y days per month. Your rough daily expected income then becomes X divided by y. Let's say that comes to N. N = X/y. Per hour income (expected) then is H = N/n. Let's say H = Rs. 100. So, now, you expect to earn Rs. 100 per hour. For you to earn Rs. 100 per hour, do you have the requisite skill? Material? Focus? Time? Factor in all these things before you arrive at a number.
The other approach is: Bottom up. Decide upon how much you want to price your effort at and arrive at a rough monthly salary of yours. Does that meet your target/requirement? If not, see where you can tweak. Should you work longer? Or do higher skill work? That's a call you need to take.
To give an estimate, I work (or target to) around 6 hours (of actual hand-work) every day. But there is a LOT of extra work that I need to do, like packing parcels, writing invoices, talking to people, designing, doing routine things like pouring resin, stringing necklaces, attaching hooks, replying to Whatsapp messages etc.
Now, ALL these don't require the same amount of effort/skill/concentration. Keep that in mind, and don't use the same yardstick for all these. Make rough brackets for how much time you spend on these activities per day and how much you price these activities at (because here, LITERALLY, time is money). All these activities add up to your eventual goal of running your own business.
Material cost, of course is a tricky issue again. Locally available material is likely to be priced higher, because of all the extra costs involved (middlemen making money, travel times to get those, courier costs etc). Larger quantities come at cheaper prices per unit but entail big investments. My suggestion would be start small and scale according to qualities. There are multiple jewellery supplies groups all over the place, use them well. Make it a habit to look for bargains, clearances, sales etc. But please, don't ASK for reduction on prices from sellers as that is a) impolite b) bad for their business. If you can't afford it, move on, find an alternative sources. Just like you, they are out to earn their living too.
Always try to also create a slight surplus, for random and sudden expenses. Like, investing in new (and upgraded) raw material, experimenting with things you haven't tried, travel, Internet, Printing, corpus etc...
So, all in all, pricing is never straight-forward. You need to develop an estimate of your hard-work, based on how good you are. Finesse is a VERY important factor, even higher than the quality of findings you use. Two people making literally making a near-same piece can fetch two completely different prices because of the over-all finishing of the piece. Leaving loose ends in your work can be lethal to your work. Odd mistakes are all right, but a shabby finish will garner you negative reputation and word travels fast. I'd rather be expensive and unaffordable than be cheap and shabby.
And the last (but, of course, never the least) is the market you're catering to. My experience has been very varied in dealing with different demographics. You need to find the audience who would be willing to pay for the effort you put. And this TAKES TIME. Don't expect overnight miracles. You need to reach out to people, to make yourself visible and to create a niche where you're pretty much the only one who can do that particular thing in that particular with that type of finesse. That's the fast lane to both recognition and to earning your due.
I'll conclude this with an example where SKILL ruled the roost. One of my all time favourite pieces: Konark. This one was my crowning glory when I made it (I felt like rubbish after I made it, because all I could see was mistakes but that is beside the point).

The total input in this piece: ~ 75 g of polymer clay
Stringing: Swarovski pearls
Dangler: Highly polished carnelian (which was a prized find at Rs. 625 per stone, I could only afford 4 of them)
And then, the killer: TIME.
I spent nearly 16 hours making it, and then, around 1 hour shading it (with an extremely expensive Pearl-Ex mica pigment and charcoals in 4 different shades). It was baked for almost 40 minutes, glazed using (another very expensive) varnish (took almost 25 minutes to glaze it) and then, strung for about 45 minutes. The piece has Swarovski pearls and crystals liberally added in it. The hook was gold plated silver as well. The chaand baalis were another 1.5 hours EACH and have Swarovski pearls on the outline. The studs are one of the most expensive you can find too :)
The other inputs: Makin's Clay Extruder, Shaping tools, Needle Tool, Ball tools, X-Axto knife, Pasta Machine (all of them cost an Earth and do need replacements after varying lengths of time)
In the end, someone actually messaged me to ask if I could make something "similar" in a budget of Rs. 800-1000 :) I smiled and never replied :)
The next time you decide to "nudge" someone out of competition by giving "best prices", just realize that you didn't hurt them, you just reduced your own value (or the value of your effort) in your own eyes (and your client's) 

Point 5: Social Media

To take the thread forward (after a pretty long break), today I tackle the issue of making yourself visible. When you start out, pretty much no one knows you. Convincing someone to trust you (with their money and support, and in the best case, encouragement) is, by no means, trivial.
Social media is a powerful way to make your presence felt, but the media has a short memory. The "timelines" move and extinguish the bottom layers faster than you can bat your eyelids. So, one needs to "stay" visible, and that is both a taxing and time consuming exercise.
Let me start one by one........
Facebook! The ONE medium that can connect you to people you've never even heard of (six degrees of separation yaha!), or who've never heard of you! One of the first steps would be to create a "Page". Pages are different from "Profiles" you create. A profile is for and by a person, and it maintained by one individual.
Pages, on the other hand, can be managed by multiple people, all of whom can have different or same roles. With the advancement of Pages category on FB, it's almost criminal to not own one, if you intend to build a business. This is specially valid for businesses where "images" play a crucial part (e.g. jewellery, fashion, event management etc.).
So, my first recommendation would be to open a page for your business. There are various categories in Pages, like Photos, About, Contact etc. Figure out who is going to manage the page and how. Upload photos of your products, preferably category wise (if you're a reseller specially, so that navigation is easy).
Similar image-base platforms are provided by Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and a host of others. Create profile(s) in these pages, wherever you wish to be visible.
Now comes the part where you've to figure out HOW to use social media to your advantage............or rather, how not to be on Social Media.
*** It may be a good idea to send out messages or invitations to people in your friends list to take a look at and like your page. But I'd strongly recommend it: DO IT ONLY ONCE. It's rude to badger people with requests to come to your page and like it and you'd come across as a pesky character. It will most likely work the other way round for you!
*** Once people like your page, they will automatically receive updates on their timelines (unless they choose to "unfollow" your page, an effort most people don't make unless they're put off by your repeated efforts to entice them).
*** Tell your story! This is a very important factor, particularly in "hand-made" business! Most people have no idea what goes into a particular piece. E.g. if I write "Wuilling jhumka, hand-painted, costs Rs. 500", a standard response I'm likely to get is, It's just paper so why is it so expensive?
Now, let me give an alternative description: A quilling jhumka that took us 7 steps, 3 days and almost 2 hours of painting with thinnest brushes and best of the best paints! Not to mention, with a Swarovski pearl on top and completely water-proof. Let us tell you that we've been asked on more than one occasion if they're made of clay! May we interest you in one?
And let me tell you, we sell quilling jhumkas for Rs. 500 (and more also) routinely! Because if you don't tell people what goes into it, they will never know! People may forget the product, but they will never forget the story!
*** Join relevant "Groups", where your work is likely to be understood, appreciated, critiqued or bought (or some/all of them!). Joining Groups can open you up to like-minded individuals with more expertise in the said fields. Please make sure you ALSO help newbies like you, once you're reasonably experienced yourself.
*** Now, a BIG one: Asking questions. This is one topic I will be extensively talking about because it is such an important one. Whether you're asking a person or general members of a Group, make sure your question isn't a "demanding" one. People post a LOT of information out of goodwill. It's a privilege and NOT your right to get that information from them. Use these Fora well and please, the bottom line (of asking AND replying to questions) should be: RESPECT.
*** It's a good idea to go slow on image posting online. Too much can be too much, literally. Space out your posts. People are more likely to sppreciate your work when it's one image at a time. No one has the time or inclination (or both) to browse through 197 photos. Facebook pages gives you this useful option of "scheduling" your posts. I use it all the time to schedule posts for days in advance, sometimes. So, every time you see a post on Art'zire, it's not necessary that I'm posting it live ;)
*** Seller etiquette is an important thing! Be polite and understand that a lot of people have very little idea about what they want. Often, specially in customization, they may have a vague idea of what their jewellery would look like. Be there to guide them, help them visualize and if necessary, draw it for them to be able to see. It helps to be patient and empathetic. Not everyone is an expert and being guided gently will make them feel confident. It works 100% of the time :)
*** Talking to and shutting out rude people. The point I make above may sound like I'm advocating trivializing yourself. No, I'm not! What I mean is, give people benefit of the doubt. BUT, if someone is being rude, condescending etc, be firm. You are ALSO a human being with values, feelings and skills. There will always be mistakes and misunderstandings, but that gives no one the right to walk all over you!
*** Detaching yourselves: This is a very important factor of being on Social media. I'd always advise that stay away from spats, judgments and conflict on the media. It is very tempting to join the bandwagon but seriously, unless dragged into it, you're probably viewing only one side of the story. That's unfair, to say the least. If you have issues, sort them out with the person you have issues with. Making a media drama will only ostracize you in the short-memory community on Social Media. Keep your "opinions" to your profile and "information" on your Page.
In short, Social media is the best thing to have happened to you, if you know how to use it well. Just remember, most people are good people. Be good to everyone :)
I hope I've covered most of the Social Media aspects. If there's anything I've left out.......let me know :)

Point 6: Time Management

This will, hopefully, be my last (and most important) instalment of entrepreneurship gyaan , which I've gained over past 5.5 years of being an entrepreneur.
At the outset, let me clarify one thing (stop here if you don't identify with this statement, otherwise you'll waste your time reading the rest of it). Managing time will be the best (and most stringent) litmus test of the 4 Ps of your life: Patience, persistence, passion and priorities. If you lack the first three, the fourth one will be skewed and will lead to frustration and dissatisfaction.
The most important thing you'll need to find out is what's most important for you. Those go on top of your time division list (yes, I did make a time division list) and then, allocate time accordingly. This is a step where you'll need to either reinforce or let go of your OCDs.
For example, I love cooking and can't stand bad cooking at all. It is sort of an OCD with me. But I had to lax out there a bit and hire a cook. My first one didn't quite make the cut but the second one is pretty good. He is learning to meet my requirements and I'm learning to be lenient too.
You'll need to figure out what is important, what's not. Because you have Only 24 hours to do all you want to do.
One thing that will make a world of a difference to your time division (specially for women) is children. If they are small (aka, pre-school age), there is an additional layer of difficulty. At this stage, I had to toughen up and choose a Day Care facility. It felt cruel, heartless, selfish even to do so. But it turned out to be the best decision I ever made for my child and me. In this department, choose well. And brace up! Because you'll hear from more than one quarters how you're a bad Mom (in extremely rare cases, bad Dad).
Schedule some sacrosanct family/kids time. You'll be amazed at how kids love it! 5 hours of half-attention is equivalent to 30 minutes of full undivided attention, as far as kids are concerned (tried and tested)....make time tables, take children into confidence, their concerns abd suggestions and the kids part will literally take care of itself then on. Maintain clarity with them and be consistent.
Another big time taker is communication. With the advent of a multitude of communication means, it's distracting to keep track of things. Schedule communication timings, for emails, messages, uploads, downloads, invoicing etc.
Schedule household work so that it doesn't intersect with your work time. Take help and most importantly, involve family. You'll be surprised at how much time tasks like: Picking clothes for washing (which my son does), serving food (we self serve), picking plates and rinsing (everyone does this on their own), giving children baths, dressing them, etc take. Make your children and spouse independent. Delegate (age and skill appropriate) tasks to everyone and watch your day expand miraculously. A lot of us end up making the entire family dependent on us, by simply being too available (YES, there is such a thing as being too available). The entire family then just chooses the simpler path out - dependence on you.
An oft disregarded aspect of time management is understanding your personality type. It includes your general disposition (are you the lazy laid back kind, the indifferent kind, the go getter kind?) and your high efficiency timings. I'll give an example:
I can pretty much never do 'nothing'. I've to be doing something, learning something new, refining something old.......the just sitting blankly isn't my cup of tea. And I'm a morning person (though I've done more than my fair share of late and overnights). This helps me compartmentalise my distraction free hours (my phone auto-mutes between 9:30 pm and 7 am). Those are the hours I prefer for "designing", because that's the highest (mental) intensity task I need to do. The silent morning hours are my favourites.
So, you need to do a thorough self-introspection before you manage your time well. This is not to say that I manage my time well all the time. I struggle, specially to maintain my social life. Because between Art'zire, baking, Anvesh and exercise, I barely get time to meet up with people. So, I make time to send emails, I've Whatsapp Web installed to make sending messages easier, Skype calls, Whatsapp video chats etc. In short, I use technology to my advantage, to stay connected....
Time managing always comes at a cost. You'll need discipline, planning, family support, lots of self-motivation and plenty of "letting go". You can't win all battles, choose wisely, the ones that are really important to you. Be ready to deal with the negativity which will come your way, as you make these changes. And give any schedule 3 weeks. Of course, you'll fumble, stumble and fall. The key is to fall 7 times and get up 8 times.
For the rest, the shining beacon is the life which will be more fulfilling.......and more productive!

Happy Working


PS: If my posts inspire you to create something on similar lines, I feel highly flattered. But please, do respect the effort I take in conceptualizing and executing, please give a direct link to my work when you are inspired by mine. Thanks for understanding........:-)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Free tutorial - Adding ghunghroos to a quilled jhumka

Hello All,

HAPPY DIWALI!!!!!!!!!! And Happy Halloween to all those who are celebrating :)

Here comes the tutorial for addition of ghunghroos to a quilled jhumka

The video for the theory is here

For material related to ghunghroo addition, please contact A1 Craft Supplies or check out their Facebook Page

Important notes:

1. Finish all the processes (including waterproofing) before you add ghunghroos. After ghunghroos, it is virtually impossible to waterproof them later (you'll end up clumping ghunghroos). Ghunghroo addition should ideally be the last step, irrespective of the type of jewellery (quilled, layered paper or polymer clay)
2. You can use any ghunghroo beads sizes you like. We've used 4.5 mm beads. The bigger the beads, the smaller the number you'll need and vice versa.
3. Take a fine tip pliers, it'll help prevent loose ghunghroos.
4. This technique works for layered paper jewellery (including Chaand Baalis) and polymer clay too. Feel free to experiment.......

Happy Quilling


PS: If my posts inspire you to create something on similar lines, I feel highly flattered. But please, do respect the effort I take in conceptualizing and executing, please give a direct link to my work when you are inspired by mine. Thanks for understanding........:-)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Adding ghunghroos to quilled jhumkas - Theory tutorial

Hello All,

At the outset, a very happy 70th Indian Independence Day! :) Wishing everyone happiness, prosperity and responsibility in the years to come :)

So, a lot of people have been curious about how to add ghunghroos to this type of jhumka (or the edge of Chaand baalis. I don't exactly know how other people do it, but I've researched the method scientifically, figured out pros and cons  and hence, the first step is getting to know the theory of addition of ghunghroos.

Here is the theory video :)

Happy Quilling


PS: If my posts inspire you to create something on similar lines, I feel highly flattered. But please, do respect the effort I take in conceptualizing and executing, please give a direct link to my work when you are inspired by mine. Thanks for understanding........:-)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Celebrations and a tutorial...........

Hello All,

It was in late 2012 that I picked up a 1/16 inch punch (I just can't remember why!!!) and was fiddling about with it. Something clicked somewhere in my brain and a jhumka resulted from it. I was very lucky that one of my friends was travelling from USA and she brought that punch for me, but I also knew that it was a speciality tool. By extension, it was expensive! I used it, I recommended it, but I knew it in the heart of my hearts that I was dependent. Dependent on a tool and dependent on my dependence.......

For almost 3.5 years, I've made jhumkas using that technique, but I never stopped wondering how to overcome this dependence. And sometimes, lack of sleep fires my brain up. Today was one such day! Having been thinking about this since Friday or so, the idea finally struck and I set about to work on it. It is an elegant (and cheap) solution, I wonder why it took me forever to come up with it!

So, over to the tutorial:

List of materials:

4 mm jump rings (kindly contact A1 Craft supply for the same)

I tried with smaller and bigger ones, but 4 mm works and looks best. 5 mm is too big to look at. And 3 mm too small to handle while working.

Fevicryl Fabric Glue

This works well enough and is cheaply (and easily) available across the country. I also did an experiment with B6000/E6000 (kindly contact A1 Craft supply for the same). The side effects of the super glue? Expensive, not very healthy to handle (SPECIAL NO NO to pregnant and lactating women and children) and takes time to set. Advantage: The glue is strong and dries transparent.

Prepared quilled dome (I've used a 5 mm strips dome, feel free to experiment)

Paint of your choice

Ghunghroo wire (A1 Craft Supply please)

Beads for ghunghroos (according to your colour scheme and preference)

The steps are illustrated in the series of images below:

The glue can take anything from 4-8 hours to dry completely, please let it dry before you handle the jump rings. Otherwise, they will come off (and they did when I made an attempt).......

Finished look of the dome. Now, go ahead, colour, embellish, paint................unleash your creativity

Paint the inside neatly

Do the waterproofing and Voila! You're DONE! [For waterproofing aids, please ping A1 Craft Supply, they'll help you out]

Add ghunghroos and you'll have a jhumka that looks almost like clay :)

A strong word of warning against people who want to walk away with the credit for a lot of things that began at Art'zire, a tweak or two in our technique is STILL derivative work. If you're a true crafter, you'd much rather think on your own. And certainly, won't come to us and blame us of copying your work (which you derived from ours, in the first place). We strongly condemn such underhanded tactics and would pray that God grants you some integrity!

On a lighter note: here is the evolution of the paper jhumka :)

October 25, 2012 :)

June 19, 2015

June 7, 2016

Happy Quilling


PS: If my posts inspire you to create something on similar lines, I feel highly flattered. But please, do respect the effort I take in conceptualizing and executing, please give a direct link to my work when you are inspired by mine. Thanks for understanding........:-)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Basic Earring making tutorial

Hello All,

Often we know how to make the 'rest of the ' quilling jewellery but stumble at making the final metal loops :)

And material for basic earrings........

Here is a guideline on how you can do that :)

Happy Quilling


PS: If my posts inspire you to create something on similar lines, I feel highly flattered. But please, do respect the effort I take in conceptualizing and executing, please give a direct link to my work when you are inspired by mine. Thanks for understanding........:-)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Become like none other.........because THAT leads to success

Hello All,

This is a post like no other I've ever written. After having been through innumerable workshops, a series of co-workers (some left, some stayed) and thousands of craft pieces, I feel partially equipped to be writing this post. It may sound presumptuous, but then, what is never said is never heard. This post is largely meant for people starting out in the crafting world and is an inspiration from Elizabeth Marek's post on baking. I am afraid a lot of things will sound very similar, but that is because some things don't change. They remain the same, no matter what creative field you are, let's get cracking!

So, you've learnt (or, are about to learn) a new craft. The obvious question one always encounters is where to, I'll begin from the beginning.........

1. Get your Basics: Once you've made your mind up about which craft you want to start with, start with the very basics. In the day and age of Google and Youtube, posting a question to professional crafters like, "Where can I get quilling supplies?" is almost criminal. Because the answer invariably is, Wherever you care to look. Quilling strips, basic tools, starter kits are available a dime a dozen in departmental stores, stationery stores and just about any store nowadays. Start there.........once you think you've exhausted the potential of the routine supplies, move over to Google. Only when you want to know something very specific a specific crafter has used, post the question (and keep it specific). It is very exhausting to reply to generic queries, because the number of tools and supplies we use is very large. By the time you're ready to reach that level, chances are that you'll have the knowledge of the material as well.....

2. Workshops vs. Queries vs. Free online tutorials: This is the point I'd deal with in parts. It's a GREAT idea to start with free tutorials. A lot of us crafters feel great sharing tutorials (in spite of crawling Internet connections and personal and professional commitments), because we love to share. It's a joy to see people blossoming through one's tutorials. But please, do not treat us like we OWE you any more. We do what we do voluntarily, but we also have bills to pay and kids to raise. We've mastered our Arts and we wish to make a living out of those. By all means, feel free to post queries. You've a right to. But we also have a right to point you to our (or others') workshops. There is a reason (or sometimes many) we take workshops. E.g. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've been asked how to waterproof quilling jewellery. In spite of writing a list of stuff you can use (a simple Google Search will find you the link to the tutorial), I end up providing people with links. Move your fingers and help yourself. I've done my bit. If you want to know more, feel free to join workshops held by people. Yes, you spend money. But remember, you gain knowledge, And for Heaven's sake, don't ask for a "discount". Show me one instant where you've asked a discount from a College or University, I'd happily give you a discount too!

3. Learn or teach: The good question. Should you learn the Art from someone or teach yourself. I'm a self-taught artist, in whatever way I can claim it. So, I'd be the last person to advise you to go to someone for workshops. But learning by yourself involves a lot of self-critique. If you're ready for the grind, go ahead :)

4. Carve your niche, develop your signature: All of us are good at one thing or the other, find out what is your strength. And as I've always reiterated, don't treat your knowledge like islands in an ocean. Treat them like dots you need to join for the larger picture to emerge. If you're good at embroidery, tie it up with the craft you wish to learn. If you paint well, develop a style where you're able to do justice to what you are good at. Trying to be someone else will only lead you to the no-man's-land where you're neither yourself, nor the other person......

5. Inspiration vs. imitation: Ah, the sore thumb! The only way I can deal with this is - you'll know in the heart of your hearts that what you did was wrong! If you need someone else to point it out, your morals have gone for a walk (and not returned). Most good artists don't honestly care if you copy their designs, but most get miffed if those designs start getting 'attributed' to the copier. It has happened to me that a copier came to me to tell me that I had copied the design she had copied from mine, to begin with. It made me less angry and more pitiful. Karma is a bitch and will bite the imitators in the butt, I'll just sit and watch!

When you are new, it's normal to want to emulate the work that inspires you. My advice is - after some time, stop watching others' work. It always influences you. Work on developing your own style and skill-set instead. And that brings me to my next point......

6. Be the best at what you choose to do: Once you're chosen your speciality, dive into it head-long. Research about all the material you use and all the material you can potentially use. You can not innovate in the material you don't know a thing about. Read! Read! Read some more. Once you know things in an out, you can come up with newer styles, ideas etc. It's about becoming SO good at your chosen field that no one can compare with you. Give your signature style to your creations, so much so that even an ordinary onlooker will know when they see it (or an imitation!). Yes, there are plenty of artists 'competing' in the same field, but there is only ONE you. No one and nothing can change that. Be the one person people aspire to be!

7. You don't know everything: This is the pivotal idea you need to keep in your mind. No one knows everything and keeping an open mind really helps. Most of my best ideas have sprung from questions my students (or even random people) have asked, over time. I'm proud to say, I barely know anything, but I am willing to be the sponge to soak in whatever comes my way.

8. Disagree quietly: There will come times you'll have disagreements with people. If you haven't had any, you haven't lived! Don't make a public spectacle out of everything! It is okay if you want to warn someone against someone who is out to cheat (and has cheated you), but if you're the proverbial 'boy who cried wolf', people will tire of the drama. You'll be alienated and ostracized. No one needs more drama in their lives than there already is (and if they do, they aren't your well wishers, take it from me)........if you have a disagreement, speak to the person concerned directly. If repeated attempts fail, do post (but without names please) about them, but present facts along with evidence. Public shaming isn't a good idea, EVER.

9. Be a good seller, be a good buyer, be professional: If you're selling crafts, chances are you'll be a buyer too, at some time. Be a damn good one. Pay your bills promptly. Avoid hassling sellers, with changing your quotes multiple times, walking out on your order, delayed payments, squabbling for discounts. In short, don't do to others what you don't want done to yourself. Thumb rule: RESPECT! This one word will earn your friends in the crafting world....the ones who will stand by your side, even though they've never met you.

10. Steer clear of heresay: The one thing that can ruin your time in crafting community is heresay. People talk (and often, out of spite, misguided thoughts etc) bad of others sometimes. It's a small community, at the end of the day. Underhand gossiping is one of the clearest signs of malice. Don't fall for it. Check facts for yourself. Good crafters mind their own business. Terrible ones, poke their nose everywhere. And by this, I don't mean the ones good at their craft, or bad at it. I mean, the good 'people' and bad 'people' a good one. Everyone notices a gossiper at the end of the day!

11. Innovate: Craft is a crowded market, and there are plenty of people always around to replace you, if you ever slack off. So, don't! Don't slack off and sit on your laurels. Competition catches up, and pretty fast. The idea is to continuously innovate, before the rest of the community catches up. It sounds a bit aggressive but no, it is about pushing your own boundaries. No one ever got anywhere until they started walking. And to keep going to new places, bingo! Keep walking!

12. Collaborate: Often, we try to think of everything ourselves. Good news: You retain the ideas. Bad news: You retain only your own ideas. One stagnates if one doesn't look at different perspectives. Talk to people. Explain your ideas. OFten, people are able to spot loopholes you may have missed. Often, people are able to give you new ideas that you didn't think about. Everyone has ideas (even if they aren't crafters). Be a keen listener and be open to accepting that you can't think of everything! Collaborate with people........and watch your ideas strengthen.........

13. Invest in relationships: Business isn't made of new clients. It's made of old clients that keep coming back (and bring others, in the due course of time).It isn't important to be just professional, it's important to be a sensitive, accountable, responsible and compassionate one. So that one little chat someone wants to have with you, may mean the world to them. Don't always do business. Invest your time in knowing people and making friends.....some of my best friends are clients and vice versa. I even go ahead and coin the term :Alpha Clients, the ones who allow me a free hand at my new ideas. They are the ones I'd go an extra mile for and these are the ones that have brought Art'zire to where it is. The first client who trusted us, the first who allowed us to work on her jewellery without even as much as a sketch, the one who bought my stuff simply because someone walked out on their order, my world is FULL of these fantastic, don't just gain clients, invest in relationships....

14. Apologize, correct, move on: I club these three under one heading because these are stages one experiences when one has made a mistake.......if there has been a mistake, apologize. If possible, correct/replace the faulty piece. But sometimes, it has happened that there has been nothing that would satisfy the client. Don't let that make you bitter. Pick your lesson and move on. You've a living to earn. Don't waste that precious time on brooding (and worse, badmouthing!).....

15. Garbage in, garbage out: What you make, to a good extent, depends on what you make it with. Buy the best material you can afford. Don't let only price be your guiding criterion. Avoid "best price" offers, because there is always a catch somewhere. If something is too cheap, your antennae ought to fire up. As a rule of thumb, buy the best you can afford.

16. Don't shortsell yourself: I've more than once heard about Art'zire, you guys are too expensive. I just graciously smile and move on. Because I know what goes on in Art'zire workspace. I run a tight ship, everyone is expected to create the best they can (and improve the standard as experience accumulates). We leave nothing to chance! And all that takes effort and time. And who can value our time and skill better than we can. Just because someone is selling the same (there is no such word, we are unique if we are doing handmade) thing at half the cost, it is them who aren't valuing themselves. We work extremely hard on our pieces and I believe in dignity of work. All hard work ought to be paid for........hence, we are a happy and cheerful (and often, creative) team here. Know the worth of your work (and involved material) and charge according to that. Whoever is looking for "cheap" can head to China made goods markets.

17. Educate, don't just execute: Often, the clients don't know the details of pieces they want. Many a time, they want/send "reference" images. Educate them about copying, and how it is unethical. Most times (and I understand), the client need a visual input. And it is perfectly fine. Not everyone can visualize things in their heads. But politely decline (ideal situation) if an exact replica is requested. Or, acknowledge the original artist (even if you don't know them, just say the design isn't your own)..........

I think, I've written everything that came to my mind..........but feel free to add pointers. I know, it's a confusing world out there but then, self help is the best help. Be self-dependent and flourish.......

Happy Crafting


PS: If my posts inspire you to create something on similar lines, I feel highly flattered. But please, do respect the effort I take in conceptualizing and executing, please give a direct link to my work when you are inspired by mine. Thanks for understanding........:-)

Image link: