Padma Renjith skilfully makes flowers in ceramic and sugar. The city-based homemaker teaches the art of crafting ceramics too
Orchids, roses, carnations, asters, daisies and hibiscus bring the outdoors into Padma Renjith’s tastefully done up flat at Sasthamangalam. Her living room and dining room are abloom with flower arrangements that add a splash of colour to the house. And the beauty of it is that these are flowers that last forever. And no, they are not plastic! The blossoms have been carefully and skilfully made by Padma in ceramic.
Each of the petals of the delicately tinted orchids, bright and bold roses, blushing carnations, pristine daisies and golden yellow dahlias has been shaped and made by her talented fingers.
The maths graduate from Kollam learnt to mould ceramics when she was in Dubai where her husband was posted for several years. “I enjoy cooking and used to attend many cookery classes in places where my husband used to work. Then I learnt icing and also the art of making sugar decorations. All the flowers that you see can be made with sugar too,” she says.
Showing you a posy of carnations and daisies, she tells you that the entire bunch is edible as it is made of sugar! Well, never knew such pretty flowers could be eaten too!
“Twenty years ago Dubai was a place where there were many homemakers with nothing much to do once the children and the husbands left the house in the morning. Now many of the youngsters work but in my time, most of us were busy homemakers,” she says.
That is when Padma began to turn her considerable culinary talents to good use by baking for friends and acquaintances. Soon, Padma began gathering bouquets for her custom-made cakes decorated to suit different occasions. Then her friends egged her on to conduct cooking classes. And Padma became the mistress of spices.
“Then I happened to meet an Indian at a shop that sells things needed to make different handicrafts. She was buying something for a ceramics class and I asked her if I could come for the class. That is how I met my teacher Poornima Subramaniam who really taught me all I know about making flowers. She was such a good teacher that she kept nothing hidden from any of her students,” recalls Padma.
After honing her skills at making flowers in ceramics and sugar, Padma began taking classes for both when her teacher felt she had gained enough expertise. Once her family returned to Kerala, Padma began taking classes in Kozhikode under the name Homebakers.
Both men and women attended the classes, says Padma, showing snaps of her classes in Kozhikode.
“One of the secrets of giving your flowers that real feel and that translucent look is to use the right kind of ceramic powder. There are some teachers who don’t tell you about the kind of material or colours to be used and even the finer points to be taken care of while creating something. My teacher never kept anything hidden from her students and I would like to continue that,” says Padma.
So she plans to import the ceramic powder for her students and also the colours that give that so-real look to the flowers. Then there are cutters for the leaves and petals, wires to give shape to stems, flowers and so on. “Fine coloured powders, again imported, are used to get the right shade for the petals. Some are mixed with the paste and the rest is painted, sprayed or dusted to make it resemble the original. It is all available abroad and I hope to buy all that for my students,” says the enthusiastic Padma, who hopes to begin classes in the city too.
She says the flower arrangements can be customised to suit the requirements of an occasion or buyer. The prices range from Rs.300 for tiny baskets with a spray of flowers to Rs. 3,500 and more for bigger pieces. Padma also makes cakes on demand.
But her heart is in teaching. “I would really enjoy sharing the joy of making these beautiful flowers with others,” she says.