Monday, June 10, 2013

The QK workspace: Mess, mess and then some QK creations :P

One of my favourite conceptual photo series is Writers' Rooms , which gives you a fascinating peep into the physical spaces where authors create --- just their work rooms, empty of them, but full of their presence and the potency of their past and future works. Here you can see the backstage score to some amazing works of fiction: the unmade bed, the solitary window, the cat napping in the corner. Workdesks: some impeccably ordered, others a vile mess. The books, the books, the books: stacked on the floor like mountains, arranged in myseterious order in massive bookshelves.

Sadly, I haven't yet come across a Crafter's Room series. And let me tell you, ever since I started quilling almost 2 years ago, I've been combing so many craft blogs and sites for just one picture that would satisfy my curiosity about What Made This Artist? (and sometimes give me the pleasure of saying, 'aha, I knew it!' when workspace and artistic style match!). And of course, apart from satiating the overactive imagination, it also gives a crafter good tips on essential crafting nightmares, such as storage (quilling strips are daunting hell when they get out of their neat packing and refuse to go back ever-so-neatly), good lighting (especially since quilling a lot like eye-wringing fiiiine needlework sometimes!), and that most crucial thing: stimulus for the imagination.

So in this post I'm gonna give you a tour of my somewhat-decorated Quillkaari workspace (which essentially is a fancy term for a-room-in-my-house), and flaunt all my collectibles. First up, the Quillkaari workdesk, which is always in a state such as this:  

And often I stand and work because that's what my workchair looks like most of the time.

Anyhow, there are other interesting things in the room, such as my Memo board, which was custom made by Enthu Cutlets. Half chalkboard, and half pinboard! :) This is where I pin my inspirations: nice notes from people I love, a handmade card, a gorgeous watercolour painting, a sweet postcard. This is also where I am supposed to write my To Do list, but I tend to just write ego-salve type things :D

Then there're the two coordinates that are supposed to remind me that I can't just sit around sipping tea, looking out of the window and quilling cutie new things, since there are orders to be shipped and the phenomenon of Time Management to be grappled with: The Clock and The Calendar.

I got this Q clock custom-made a few months ago. It just happened so that I got a custom request for a quilled P from a certain Madhvi Khaitan. Only after the creation was shipped and the money came in from a certain Workshop Q, I realised that an artist had ordered my creation! I saw all the amazing upcycled and reclaimed creations on their shop, and asked Madhvi if I get could get this clock in the Q alphabet for the Quillkaari room. Fabulous, isn't it?

And this perpetual calendar was bought from a shop called Itkila on ItsHandMade, mainly because a Work From Home life often means that you don't leave house all week, and forget what date/ day it is at all :P With this calendar, I thought I would physically change the date everyday, and hence remember it (That trick didn't work. Clearly I haven't been following the logic since May 18 :P) Itkila's shop on IHM isn't functional at the moment, but you can check out their blog here.

And that's my QK Fairy, ready to crown me Quilling Queen, only if I work hard and finish all the quilling I have brewing in my head! I (mis)use her for sundry other things, such as drying earrings and pendants. Sometimes on very hot afternoons when the heat in this AC-less room addles my brain, I talk to her, offering advice about modesty and wearing tights under her dress if she has to fly around all over the place like this.

I love sitting in the QK room in the wee hours of the morning (perils of having to wake up in tune with the water supply hours!), along with my huge mug of spicy milky tea and jar of cookies, windows open and breeze blowing in. This is the time I ignore the To Do list and dream of all the possibilities: the new collections I must launch, the flowers I must translate into quilling, the people I must gift quilly creations to. But as the day progresses, real life wakes me up and makes me quill through my To Do list --- sometimes I do this in tandem with my housework.

And in the end the entire house is my workspace.

Sample: My bed.

Also sample: The drawing room. 

And of course, quilling causes many other messy disasters in the house, which I did not photograph but are evident in my admonishing To Do lists stuck to the fridge. 

It's been a week and I still haven't done those. Clearly, my orders are so severe, even I can't follow them. Good thing that Quillkaari employs me and only me.

I feel bad for my tornado-ravished house once in a while, and even more so for The Husband who comes home to this :P So I cleaned up quite a bit of the mess, and can now show you happy shiny pics of the QK room that lies under the debris. 

Here is my workdesk all cleaned up:

You can finally see my knick-knack caddy from The Wishing Chair (same store I bought the QK Fairy from). This was a planter when conceived by its maker and the store, but now holds a calculator for MSExcel-challenged me, a beautiful card my mum gave me last birthday, my To Do list diary, some handy tape and scissors, and most important accessory for Feviocol-filled, moisture-ripped dry quiller hands: hand cream! And those are my Madhubani coasters so that no chai-rings are transferred onto desk and quilling paper. 

 Then there's my handpainted Salvador Dali box in which I keep all my quilling tools - my sister had this made to order by an artist in Varkala's flea market, who rather snobbishly answered her "you should expand your brand!" remark in a way that reminded her of me (namely, "Hell, I don't do this for money!").

And look below, this is how I store all my quilling stuff - big plastic boxes for various thickness of quilling paper, punches, jewellery findings, varnishes, papers, accessories and finished pieces, phew! I bought the rack for 300 bucks from a local store that sells these boxes - you'll find it at most shops in Sarojini Nagar/ Lajpat Nagar/ Munirka that sell bathroom/ kitchen plastic storage. Ditto for the collapsible plastic toy bin that houses all my hardly-used-s. Also see, Fabindia star-and-moon fairy lights and my big folder of bill records (also paper and cardboard) bought from iTokri!  


And that's were I collapse after a mad day at work. Or a very big lunch.Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

And we're shuffling! :)

Yayy, look what came in the mail the other day: my bead pourri from Eesha! :D

She sent a sweet, sweet note saying that these are her favourite colours :) I looked at the beads and I felt... panic. That's a lot of beads, I thought. I have never worked with beads, I thought. They're all from the same colour family, while QK is all about the seduction of technicolour, I thought. So I did what I always do when brain isn't working: I went to sleep.

Today morning, I woke up early and took my bedtea to the QK workdesk. Maybe it was the open windows, the morning breeze, the honeyed light, but the bead pourri didn't look all that intimidating. My mind is at its most intuitive and fresh at this time of the day, so I quickly sorted the beads into combinations, before my brain began its chatter for the day :P I didn't have a plan; all I knew was that these were going to be long earrings, just the way I like them. No tiny drops!

This is how it began turning out... yummy!

Now, part of the rules of the game is that you are allowed to add 10 per cent findings of your own. I love pearl beads - they're the only beads I use in QK designs - so I added those to the mix. I also used this moment to fish out my precious evil-eye heart beads. I'd bought while wandering through a knick-knacks bazaar in the Egyptian Spice Market of Istanbul during my recent trip there, and had decided I would use them for a special design :)

I also add these maroon beads that a friend (who has been major QK patron and idea-generator, and most famously ordered the quilled dragonflies for her lamps) had given me a long time ago, hoping that they'd be useful for a QK creation. These were from her mother's necklace, so they're all the more precious :) I used them inside the white oval earrings.

Stringing these beads was SO different from stringing Quillkaari earrings! With QK, I tend to use a lot of the round jump rings for connecting the beads, since I can't pierce through a quilled bead. Here, all the beads could be pierced through, so no jump rings needed! But this also means working a lot with making wire loops, which I totally suck at. One of the reason for that (other than the fact that maybe all my patience levels are depleted by the quilling and I have none left for jewellery-making techniques!) is that I use the most archaic jewellery-making pliers known to mankind. They're 3-in-1, and I picked them off on sale from a US craft store when I had just started experimenting with quilling. Very crude, sort of like, Stone Age Tools meets Plumber's 'plaas' (see right corner of pic above to know exactly what that looks like), and cannot make delicate, fine eye hooks. Note to self: Buy a tool kit, silly.

Another dilemma was that my eye pins and head pins were not long enough to accommodate these huge beads: they often fell short, like here:

And so I had to alter the design - the one on the left is what finally stayed. Which one do you prefer? Left or right?

And finally, I had them ready - not one or two, but seven pairs!

Of course, in the middle I had to attend to a thousand domestic emergencies that any Work From Home artist has to encounter on a daily basis: I got news that maid had called in sick for the day; had to conduct a treasure hunt in the house to find things that Husband has misplaced and could not find; had to cook two meals and answer one zillion doorbells and give the dog a bath.

Here he is after said bath, soaked wet and nuzzling in front of the cooler, happily.  

Then I ran back to studio - all sweaty, grimy but excited - and photographed my beauties endlessly, while QK Fairy twirled them around! :)

I'm gonna keep one pair for myself, and give the rest away to friends and family (this is the point where you being friend/ family, send me a sweet little flattering note for your pair).

Which one's your favourite? And which one do you think I'll keep? :) Let's see how well you know the QuillkaariWali, hah! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Quillkaari's first Bead Swap Party!

One of the best things about selling online is that I see and meet so many artists like me. As indie artists, we all know exactly what it takes to make these creations and then give them away - the rich joys that an artist's practice brings to their lives, and the little things that it takes away.

The most amazing part, however, is watching how the medium we work with combines with our personalities  and creates a style. So I love colour; I love flowers and butterflies; I love the crisp texture of paper; I love big earrings. All of that comes together and creates the Quillkaari style. There are some things I can do with paper that no other clay or bead artist can do; and then there are things I can just never do with paper. I can't create the softness of the inside of a flower for instance, which someone like Nidhi Srivastav at Earthen Concepts can do so perfectly in clay. And so we make different kinds of creations: amazingly, each of us finds people like you who think we're totally 'your type' of artists :)

So when I got a chance to be part of the 'Shuffle Pourri' Bead Swap Party event created by ItsHandMade, I totally jumped at it. It's an absolutely fabulous community-building event that only IHM cares to do, where all of us artists who sell on the site can come together, have a nice chat (without the fears and insecurities of who's selling more!), and try our hand at each other's job, in our own way! How it goes is: I am paired with a particular artist who works with a medium very different from mine. I send her my paper quilled beads along with all the findings you need to make an earring, and she sends me her version. We both make a pair of earrings with the 'foreign' beads, and find the pleasure in doing the same things differently :) I think it's a great event, because apart from all the unique, to-die-for, special edition jewellery that'll be created, this will also be a great exercise for all the artists to recognise the style that makes the brand for each one of us. Sometimes our style and the medium that we work with become so meshed into each other that we forget who we really are, as artists!

So I've been paired with Eesha Zaveri, who creates the most delicate, graceful, timeless classics with beads. Think delicious single colour themes, think perfect wire spirals, think elegance. And think perfect craftsmanship.

And then there's Quillkaari - technicolour, whimsical, always trying to be over-the-top outrageous :D

It's a bit like Sophia Loren meets Helena Bonham Carter. Hahaha.

So I thought up a little goodie box with lots of paper bead options for Eesha to choose from. The colours I put together were the classic white and black, combined with lime green and magenta, two of my favourites. I went with all shapes, textures and numbers: single circles, single teardrops, hearts, three-petal fleur de lis, squares and tight beads.

Here are my babies, quilled and ready for varnishing, against the mad mess of the Quillkaari studio worktable  :P

And here they are, getting varnished in my balcony, ready to get dried to a crisp in the hot, hot Dilli summer!

Post-varnishing, they're lolling about on my work desk, lookin' super funny.

And now the findings - lotsa pearls, jump rings, a birdie-themed charm set, and claspback hooks which I can tell from her designs, Eesha loves.


And now my favourite part: packing!!!

I slipped in a little gift for Eesha: Quillkaari jhumkis in the colours of my Shuffle Pourri beads. I'm thinking of it as a quilled memory of this happy creative exchange :)

And now, I sit around and twiddle my thumbs, waiting for my package from Eesha to arrive :D The updates will keep coming in! :)

To know more about Shuffle Pourri, go here.

The Quillkaari Lab

Long overdue, this blog! Welcome to the Quillkaari Lab, the 'inside story'.

This is where you come because you've gorged on the pics on the Quillkaari Facebook page already.
Now you're curious: How does she do it, this QuillkaariWali? What all goes into making this? How does her mind work? Where does she get her inspiration from? What's her workspace like? How do ideas translate into paper art? And the most crucial: How can I make this? :)

So this is the space of pure stories. My story, your story, the story of Quillkaari that is always unfolding. This is where I am not selling anything to you, and you are not looking to buy. This is where we live the reason why Quillkaari came into being at all: to share.

Expect lots of lush pics, lots of confessions, lots of questions, and yes, lots of How To-s!