Life & Style

Bindu Joy’s experiments with decoupage

Bindu Joy with some of her works

Bindu Joy with some of her works   | Photo Credit: S.Mahinsha

The artiste uses the technique to enliven daily-used objects

Despite the quaint appeal of the white base and the image of a sprig of lavender on them, the bottles, shaped like Russian stacking dolls, looks oddly familiar. “Oh those? Nescafe bottles,” Bindu Joy says, almost dismissively, breaking into a smile. The decoupage artist hasn’t had too many things to dispose of in a while. A frying pan that is past its prime, egg shells otherwise destined for the bin, bottles of all shapes and sizes, kettles, lanterns, milk cans, antique pieces of furniture, coat hangers are all potential pieces de resistance that light up a space with their presence in Bindu’s home.

The exhibits, like items out of a Jane Austen book, reveal nothing of their previously mundane existences. Bindu held her first workshop in Kochi to a full house, with more enquiries to confirm a second session a few weeks back. What she didn’t expect though, was as overwhelming a response in Thiruvananthapuram. So much so that she is holding another workshop in July.

Trial and error

After trying the technique at home based on video tutorials and failing, the homemaker learnt the basics from an expert based in Jaipur two years ago. The painstakingly slow process of decoupage, meaning ‘to cut out’ in French, took Bindu at least nine months to master before she made her first sale — a small lantern.

Decoupage lantern

Decoupage lantern   | Photo Credit: S. MAHINSHA

It is something that still remains most in demand among her customers. Bindu then refined her technique with yet another course in the US. She intends to up her game with advanced techniques using mixed media and 3D.

An artistic process that has its origins in Eastern Siberia, where natives would use felt cut-outs to decorate the tombs of their loved ones, decoupage was then adopted by the Chinese in the 12th century where peasants used the technique to brighten up their plain furniture, before Venetian artistes began to decorate lacquerware with sheets of hand-coloured engravings.

Decoupage iron

Decoupage iron   | Photo Credit: S.MAHINSHA

Bindu brings out bottles from her initial few attempts. “I’ve kept these to show at the workshops so that participants can see the different kinds of errors that could occur in the process,” she says, having ‘been there, done that’ in the early days. “Apart from wrinkles and bubbles on the surface, the paint can peel if dried using a hair dryer, so I should have let the bottles air-dry but I didn’t know that then.”

The steps are many, spread over three to four days, beginning with sanding, priming, several coats of paint, drying time and the gluing process that all call for much patience. The technique is applicable on most surfaces, including wood, glass and aluminium. “It is very satisfying, seeing such beauty as the end result,” she adds.

Her Facebook page, Ebony ‘n’ Ivory, has attracted many customers seeking out unique gifts or looking to give meaning to old, everyday objects around the house. “It is a great way to upcycle,” she notes. Even a charcoal iron, now an antique in most houses, has been ‘decoupaged’, occupying pride of place in Bindu’s home. “That is not for sale. I frequently disappoint people who ask,” she says. “Antique pieces are expensive by themselves. Add to that my efforts, the price becomes very steep. So I ask customers to bring me such pieces from their own homes on which I can do the art so that I only need to charge for my services.”

Decoupage kettle

Decoupage kettle   | Photo Credit: S MAHINSHA

The materials used for the process are now available online. Decoupage napkins from which the images are transferred onto the surface of various objects come in different plies and themes according to which prices vary. “Floral prints are an all-time favourite,” Bindu says, as is evident from her own mobile phone cover and other objects on display. It is only this Easter that she dared to use decoupage on eggshells — the task being as delicate as the object. Seasonal festivals like Christmas also mean decoupage napkins in matching themes that Bindu finds hard to resist. For now, though, she is thrilled about being able to share the technique with more people. While she never saw herself as a teacher, an increase in enquiries to share the technique got her started.

“Group sessions are exciting. The more the number of people, the more the doubts that will be raised, so everybody learns.” Going by the response, it looks like the city is ready for a new kind of vintage.

A beginner’s class is being held on June 19 and July 28. Contact: 9539395354

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 8:48:50 PM |

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