Walter Hunt invented the safety pin to pay off a $15 debt he owed a friend. Marvin Stone struck upon the idea of a paper straw when the taste of rye (used as straws then) was spoiling his mint julep. Every product has a story. And, there’s no better way than to hear it from the makers themselves. The 17th edition of the biannual event, By Hand From the Heart (started in 2011), includes a collection of 46 makers and artists across India, exhibiting their products — bags, accessories, clothing, furniture, artworks and more — at the Lalit Kala Akademi . With a mix of brands, both established and new, the six-day-long event expects to break last year’s record of 4,000 visitors. The art group show will be held from February 1 to 3 , and the Makers Market , on February 5 and 6 , from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For details, call 94444 14227 .
Here are five picks from this year:
Message in a bottle
Don’t throw away that bottle after the last swig. Instead, give it to Kabaadiwala. The Chennai-based community, which has done extensive research on waste management in the last year, has been collecting alcohol bottles from pubs and scrap dealers directly over the past few months, and turning them into useful products. Mridula Harihar, a glass artist who works with the community, explains: “Alcohol bottles can be melted, cooled and converted into a flat dish, cut into different sizes and filled with scented wax, and shaped into disfigured vases.” Upcykle, as the brand is called, focuses on extending the lifespan of the bottle before it reaches the landfill. “The landfills in Pallikaranai and Perungalathur that have been built over marshy and ecologically-sensitive areas are filling up fast and nobody is doing anything about it. Occasionally, the heap of waste is burnt, releasing poisonous gases into the air and polluting the surrounding village areas,” she says. Probably, the least we can do is segregate the waste — as bottles, metals and paper — and hand it over to the scrap dealer directly, instead of putting all of it together in the dustbin. And these products can help spread awareness, she says.
Price: Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,500 Don’t miss: The Bacardi pendant where the mouth of the bottle is cut and melted to resemble a donut
Into the past
“When we were young, our mother used to wait for the sun to come out, and leave us in the balcony with a bottle of oil to rub on our dry skin,” recalls Dipna Daryanani, co-founder of Love the World Today, a Mumbai-based brand of clothing for children (between ages one and six years). With that memory as inspiration, Dipna and her sister Dipti Ahuja have come up with a new collection of clothing, themed ‘Winter Sun’. The clothes, predominantly in yellow and ochre, are made with sustainable material — herbal dye, hand-woven fabric and organic cotton. The left-overs are made into pom-poms, hair bands, and more. What started as a little fashion venture for Dipti’s three-year-old child, took off on a larger scale, with their first collection ‘Once Upon A Cotton Cloud’, getting sold out in the first 15 days.
Price: Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 3,000 Don’t miss: Matching mother-baby clothes.
The wandering clown of Chandigarh
A fresh graduate of Architecture in 2012, Darshan Singh Grewal worked for exactly 25 days in a plush office environment. “I couldn’t take it anymore. I took off from home, and spent the whole of 2013 travelling across India,” he says. Project Saudade (translates to ‘longing’ in Portuguese), a series of framed photographs, is a result of the solo travel. The photographs, shot in a small village called Potlabhari in Chandigarh, show a clown walking across the streets amidst surprised onlookers. “I believe that a person discovers oneself best when they are in a completely strange surrounding. You begin contemplating about life, and long to be accepted. I have tried to bring those emotions to the photographs,” he says. Darshan has also worked on two documentaries, Black Pottery of Nizamabad and Stone Stories of Jaisalmer , and has exhibited his doodle series, Bizarre Gaze, at the Delhi Comic Con 2015.
Price: Around Rs. 30,000 per frame Don’t miss: The poetry below the frames.
Honey, I shrunk the garden
Cardiologist Dr. T. Gohulabalan was always a fierce lover of Nature. As a child in Madurai, he recalls sulking for hours, whenever he saw somebody axe a tree. According to him, nobody should be spared of a lush garden — even if their house is on the fifth floor. “So I started creating gardens (inspired by U.S.-based artist Janit Calvo) — complete with bonsai plants sourced from across India and U.S.-exported miniature benches, fountains and dogs — inside transparent pots that are just a foot wide,” he says. His brand, Sorrel Gardens (started in March 2014), has clients in Bangalore, Jaipur, Delhi, Bhubaneshwar and Mumbai, among other cities. “I tailor-make it for clients, be it themes such as desert, pond, lush forest and so on, or add a model of a fountain or puppy inside if they wish. In India, the concept is just picking up. Last month I went to the U.S., and almost every house has a miniature garden in every room,” says Dr. Gohulabalan, who takes only 10 minutes to make a terrarium.
Price: Rs. 150 to Rs. 3,000 Don’t miss: Hydroponics (growing plants without soil) terrarium.
On a paper trail
Shimoga Airport. That’s where Delhi-based landscape architect Ankon Mitra found his calling. “We had to create the roof of the airport in a unique way, and we used folded metal plates to do so. That’s when I was technically introduced to the art of origami. Also, I realised then that the Japanese art is not just about making paper boats, birds, and flowers, it’s much more,” he says. He started applying the technique of folding in leather, metals, fabrics and paper, to make furniture, lighting, installations (ranging from a foot to six feet) and more — specialising in Oritecture (Origami + Architecture). A few designs require up to 3,000 folds and take a month to make, and the smaller ones, four or five days.
Price: Rs. 7,500 to Rs. 50,000 Don’t miss: Jamanthi Kolam paper installation that can light up.