Metal Cloud Earrings

I have a confession to make – “I am crazy about clouds and I love taking pictures of the sky!” If I could photograph anything I wanted to, I would probably photograph clouds.

I have a confession to make – “I am crazy about clouds and I love taking pictures of the sky!” If I could photograph anything I wanted to, I would probably photograph clouds. For me there is no “ordinary” cloud – every cloud is special and beautiful in its own way. I have pissed off many with this compulsion of mine, to stop, admire, and photograph clouds even when I am in the middle of something important. From dates to functions, from roadtrips to photoshoots – none have been spared. So to hear Keith Christiansen, a curator at the MET museum speak about his attachment for clouds was very satisfying.

Photographs taken at New York City, Udaipur and Chennai

At one point he explains why he takes pictures of clouds and the sky – “it is not a record of a place that I have been too but rather an emotion that I felt standing there and looking at it.” I do not think that I can summarise my feelings for the sky and clouds any better than how Keith feels.
Many, Many artists have taken inspiration from clouds, from Sunrise and sunset skies to fuel their imagination. Next only to flowers, I consider the ever changing nature of clouds as the universal definition of strong inspirational direction.
This Month’s we’re all ears challenge is all about Weather – wind patterns, clouds and rain and as inspiration Erin had provided us with Van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Cypresses that I had posted in the September ABS challenge here

I had great plans for all sorts of earrings when I started writing this post a week back and was then struck down by 102 deg fever. But I have made 2 pairs at the last moment. One is a direct realisation of cloud earring showcasing deep dark booming clouds and the other is a more stylised version of cloud movement in the evening just before the golden hour. The long stud meant to be worn as evening or party wear. Both are studs and are made of brass – brass flower stamping blanks (cut into the cloud shape) and brass wire. I have used my new texture hammer from Parawire to add interest to both pieces. I somehow like the texture on the wire better, what do you guys think?

We’re all ears – its cloudy

I have blinged up both earrings with swarovski crystals and lots of pearls. I also like how the loreals in the first earrings move a lot without making much sound, an attribute I prefer in my earrings. On hindsight, I think I should have not wrapped such heavy pearls to the earrings. As it quite long and tilts to the side (as per the design) it feels even more heavy. But it would be nice to wear it on an evening out and be the cynosure of all eyes. That’s it for this reveal folks and as I close I am going to leave you with more cloud pictures I took in the last few years all over the world.
Photographs taken at Chennai, Kathmandu, New Jersey, and Philadephia

I just realised that even though my inspiration pictures are colorful, vibrant with a happy vibe my designs are dull and melancholic, maybe reflecting my current state of mind and body. Maybe looking at all the beady baubles that the other participants made would cheer me up so I am off to visit the challenge reveal page. Why don’t you all join me ?

I hope you found it interesting
Cheers

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One day in New York City

If you are here for the We’re all ears Challenge reveal , then skip to the end of the post to see the earrings.

If you are here for the We‘re all ears Challenge reveal , then skip to the end of the post to see the earrings. But if you have five minutes, you could read about my recent travels and my “New York State of Mind”.

In a New York State of Mind

My USA journey began with a flight to JFK where I was picked by my Aunt and Uncle, and driven to their home in the picturesque Albertson. It was everything I had read about American suburbs – calm and quiet, yet not very far from the main road, surprisingly dotted with Indian and Pakistani stores. It might as well been a villa colony along the ECR if not for the American flag fluttering in the porch of many a house.

The next morning, after depositing my luggage at a charming place in Woodside, near Queens Blvd I left to board a train that would take me to Hudson yards station, wherein began my sightseeing Trip. They say that New Yorkers walk a lot – and by the time I reached Pier 83, near the Intrepid Air and Space Museum from Hudson yard, I realised the truth behind that remark. It was a long brutal walk, considered peanuts by NYC standards. Thankfully, the warehouses along the way provided much needed shade during that terribly hot day. I soon boarded a cruise boat and after securing a seat at the upper half covered deck, waited in anticipation to see Lady Liberty.

The Landmark cruise, a 90 minute ride on the Hudson river was a great and comfortable way to see the famed Manhattan skyline even on a very hot day. Within minutes of the cruise I could see the Skyscrapers – all concrete and glass. World Trade Center, 9/11 memorial, Empire State building, Battery park were on one side while the other side offered a peak into New Jersey. Contrary to the note on the Cruise website, the cruise neither goes around the Statue of Liberty nor do we get to see it twice. After a brief glimpse from a good distance we took a U Turn to see the famous Brooklyn Bridge and the Williamsburg bridge. I felt sorry for the folks who did not rush to the deck to take their pictures but waited patiently for the boat to turn around; they never got a chance to take pictures of the SOL after that. Sometimes, patience doesn’t pay.

The commentary was very informative to begin with, but it got boring towards the end with the guide going on and on about the 9/11 memorial, the great “New York rush hour” and Captain Sully’s landing on the Hudson. Maybe with the movie coming up (it has been released now) the guide thought it would be interesting to people, but people got bored and started talking really loudly during the return journey. Instead, we could have spent more time at the statue of liberty as 5 minutes is hardly enough to soak up her splendor. It was however, very interesting, to see people take ferry rides, helicopter rides, go yatching and yes go jet skiing on the river.

After a quick lunch consisting of a muffin and an apple, I ubered to the Met. The Metropolitan museum of art is heaven on earth for artists, designers and connoisseurs of beauty. I really missed my mom and wished that she got an opportunity to see it as well, so I called her (woke her up in the middle of the night) and described the exhibits as I was walking through the Greek section. People say that those who are not artistically inclined can see 4 sections in a day and those who love art can only see 2. I, on the other hand saw 8 exhibits. I rushed through them as FOMO (fear of missing out) gripped me until they basically threw me out at 5:30 PM. “When am I ever going to get an opportunity like this again”, I told myself, forcing my brain into absorbing everything I saw and wishing that I had skipped the cruise and been at the Met at the opening time instead. I will write soon about extraordinary jewelry exhibits and Manus Machina very soon.

I chose to see only three places in NYC and the last on my list was the “Sunset view from the Top pf Rock”. I had gotten a glimpse of Central Park earlier on my way over to the MET but as I travelled towards TOR, I was able to appreciate Central park once again, this time only for $5 as I was driven along the 5th avenue. Thank God for share -Uber that nobody wants to share 😀 My Driver turned out to be a freelance Graphic designer and so he was happy to point out signages and thematic displays of Fashion stores along the famous street.

fifth avenue new york

Even though I was late for my TOR appointment I took my time in seeing portions of the Rockefeller center and browsed at Anthropologie to my heart’s content. But I missed seeing the inside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and going through more high end stores on that street. If given an another chance, I would do it differently.
My image of New York city, like most other Indians is created based on stories of cousins or relatives who live abroad or is crafted through American Television shows. In my case it was the TV shows like “Sex and the City”, “White Collar” and “Castle” that made me visit TOR at sunset. I fell in love with how the Empire state building looked in the “so called evening light” in the shows but only when I actually reached TOR, I realised that the light in those scenes come from the opposite side, meaning that they could been shot during sunrise. I reached the 67th floor around 7 PM awaiting the 7:55 PM sunset but the sun tested all of us by setting at 8:20 PM. By then, both the 69th and 70th floors had become extremely crowded, filled with frustrated people who were disappointed with their dull, unsharp pictures on a very humid and cloudy day. I guess ‘just seeing’ the Empire state building in all its splendor doesn’t hold the magic that it once did in the minds of people.

empire state building

Ten minutes after the sunset, I gave the Empire state building one last look and left with a heavy heart for I was leaving New York without seeing my favourite Chrysler building properly. My return journey was full of drama for I got lost in the subway maze. New Yorkers, I realised much Chennaites are perfectly capable of giving contradicting directions. GPS was also useless considering the number of roads that had closed due to ongoing construction. One side of most roads were dug up and it took all of my Chennai street smartness to avoid falling into any of them. I was thankful that I had been a city mouse for a while now. After wandering around lost for nearly an hour I reached the Times square. Maybe I was extremely tired and hungry, but to me it looked like someone had setup huge TV screens in Ranganathan Street. I was once again transported to Chennai and quickly reversed my steps to the station. But in a way I was blessed for I got see another glimpse of the Chrysler building as though it was poking its head to say hello to me.

empire state building at night

After shopping for band aids for my bruised feet and inexpensive drugstore makeup (which is very good btw) I finally reached the alarmingly quiet Woodside by 10:40 PM and heated up some soup that was to be my dinner. My day however was far from being over. My Airbnb host turned out to be a FIT graduate of Indian Origin and we ended up talking about uptil midnight about design, fashion and our ethnicity despite my blasting headache. She was quite surprised at how much I had packed into one day in Manahattan.
The next morning I packed my bags, bid my host and New York adieu as I travelled to New Jersey and that my dear readers was my day in New York. We have come to the end of a long post, which was supposed to be the first in my US series. At some point during typing this post, I started imagining myself to be Carrie writing her column and got carried away, sorry!

New York Sunset earrings

Coincidentally, this month‘s We‘re all ears Challenge is all about skyscrapers and the inspiration post features quite a few from New York. So it only fair that I wrote about my New York experience. Both the earrings – New York Sunset and Boxed up sky scrapers were made using the Niobium components that I made in my Rainforest leaves earrings class with Marti Brown at Beadfest. I have used the boxy rectangular shapes of the buildings and the sunset colors for my earrings. The seed beads represent the lit up windows and the scrunched up textures (and folds) represent the repair and construction work happening in the streets and in the buildings.

That was my Day in New York City, I hope you found it interesting

PS: If you are like me and like Billy Joel pop over to listen to his famous In a New York State of Mind Tamil Folks can always listen to New York nagaram orangum neram
Cheers

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Beadfest beads

Hello folks, thanks for all the comments on Facebook, Instagram, blog and mail asking about my well being. I am truly grateful for your love and affection

Hello folks, thanks for all the comments on Facebook, Instagram, blog and mail asking about my well being. I am truly grateful for your love and affection. As my trip was very short (11 + 1 extra day due to time difference it was very hectic. Out of the 12 days, I spent 4 days travelling, 4 days at beadfest and 4 days sightseeing, apart from being sick for 9 of them (and still am with a horrible cold that refuses to go). But I don’t want to keep you guys waiting to hear about my adventures, and so, here is a short post on the beautiful beads that I saw at Beadfest Summer 2016, held at Oaks near Philadelphia, United states of America, between the 17th-21st of August (expo from 19th to21st)

This was my first time at Beadfest and first time in USA so before my Travel I had this question on my mind – what to buy at Beadfest? Why, Beads, ofcourse, people said, as it is literally in the name BEAD FEST”. I saw beads, a great variety of them and went around photographing quite a lot as well. Beads were available in every color, shape, size and material possible. It was like an exotic treasure filled cave.
Friends, who saw my instagram posts asked me if I bought them all, Sadly my answer is no. I visually feasted on them, but I didn’t buy any as most beads were from India or China and are available here at atleast half their respective fest prices and I was on a teeny weeny budget. But they were beautiful to see, and wonderful to touch and feel. Here are some of the bead pictures


Semi Precious Beads
I think there was enough Lapis Lazuli there to buy a small house in the countryside. Wonderfully blue and beautifully streaked, lapis was available in every shape possible – coins, nuggets, teardrops, rounds, and cabochons.

 

There was no dearth of semi precious beads like carnelian and agate either. I found lots of large agate slices in pastel colors and druzy agates in candy shades. Again just with regard to price (without thinking about quality) these were higher in price compared to even American web stores like Firemountaingems, beadaholique or even Autnie’s beads (which I consider slightly pricey). But they were extremely yummy to look at.


Pearls and MOP
There were 3-4 types of pearls available – real fresh water pearls, synthetic pearls, Shell pearls, and Swarovski pearls. Most of the pearls were from China or were being sold by Chinese vendors.

The MOP connectors were fascinating and they reminded me of the printed shell buttons that I used in my Valentine showers of love button necklace tutorial here

Glass
Most glass beads were Artisan made Lampwork beads or seed beads. I know that manufactured or recycled glass beads are not easily available in America, but I was surprised to see that the Indian vendors not carry them as well. I hope they do realise the opportunity and fill in the gap soon. The following picture was taken on Friday, when the expo was relatively free, I couldn’t take any pictures on the weekend as the lampwork booths and by extension the expo was quite packed with people.

 

Resin and Acrylic
Beadfest has something for everyone in terms of beads. While I saw individual beads being sold $12-$20, I also saw bunches of $3-$5 resin and acrylic beads and loads 1 dollar crystal strands.

 
 

I saw lots of different types of beads from across the world – African discs, Tibetan turquoise, Nepal cabs, beetle wings, and Afghan Coins. I recognised a majority of those materials I have come across them in Neena Shilvocks’s Caprilicious Jewellery blogposts previously. Oh Neena! You should have been there, you could have gotten all your favourite stuff at one place 🙂

Cabochons
There were multiple vendors selling Cabochons, but this particular booth was captivating as it had a huge wall of cabs. This image only shows a portion of their display which by itself is drool worthy.


Apart from these types of beads, there are also wooden beads and disks, enamelled beads, metal beads, and Polymer clay beads. If you are in America then beadfest is one of the best places to buy beads for the variety is just fantastic. A really big crowd comes out just to shop for beads at the expo. On Sunday afternoon, I saw and heard so many Indians (Tamil, Kannada and Hindi was spoken freely) that I felt that I was in Alwarpet or RA Puram in Chennai than in Oaks, Pennsylvania. South Indians are obsessed about quality and value and the fact that they were out there, shopping in large numbers only goes to show the quality of merchandise that was being showcased and sold there.

So what did I buy if not beads? To find out the answer to that question tune in later in the week to see my USA supplies haul.
PS: I have a small Giveaway upcoming for Readers in India – Stay tuned!!
I hope you found it interesting
Cheers

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Resin Workshop Alert

With Facebook’s constantly changing policies and feed display many have remarked how my workshops updates are not reaching them, so I am posting the latest update here. If interested in the workshop, please email me your confirmation

With Facebook’s constantly changing policies and feed display many have remarked how my workshops updates are not reaching them, so I am posting the latest update here. If interested in the workshop, please email me your confirmation. I will require a token advance to reserve your seat which will go towards your workshop materials.

Resin Workshop Alert
A 3- 4 hour comprehensive Resin workshop that will introduce to you the wonderful world of resin where you’ll create a variety of components using two part epoxy resin and leave with a whole lot more ideas than we can possibly fit in the workshop.
The Class will be conducted in small batches of 4-5 people to provide individual attention

You’ll be taught using a slow curing resin
– The basics of resin – types of resin, brands available, curing time, process of mixing
Designing for mixed media – planning components

– Preparation of papers/fabric for embedding
– Doming process
– Coloring resin
– Cold enamelling Process

– Resin Casting using moulds
Demo of the finishing process will be shown which you can use to finish your pieces at home.

The pieces made in the workshop will be mailed to you after 72 hours, once they are cured or they can be collected from my place.

Batch 1: 1-2 seats available
Saturday, June 25 between 2 PM – 6 PM


Batch 2: Three seats available
Saturday, July 2nd between 2 PM – 6 PM

Fees – Rs.4000 (incl workshop materials -take away resin kit)
Location – Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai


No jewelry making experience is required and beginners are invited. The techniques learnt can be applied to product design, scrapbooking, collage making, or any mixed media art apart from Jewelry.
All material will be provided. It’s a make-and-take workshop and left over resin (enough for 4 future pours) can be taken home by the participants.

Email me – jewelsofsayuri(@)gmail(.)com by 24th June to book your seat.
I hope you found it interesting
Cheers

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Nature trails at Coorg

This time last month, I was in Coorg, Karnataka, for a short spring break. Known as the Scotland of India, Coorg is famous for its coffee and spice plantations

This time last month, I was in Coorg, Karnataka, for a short spring break. Known as the Scotland of India, Coorg is famous for its coffee and spice plantations. I was there for three days and toured Bylakupe (A huge Tibetan settlement) Madikeri, Talacauvery (the origin point of river Kaveri), Bhagamandala (A 1000 year old Shiva Temple), Nisaragadhama, a coffee and spice plantation and Melkote ( A 1000+ year old Vishnu temple) and Srinrangapatna (The seat of Tipu Sultan) apart from doing lots of shopping.
I was led to believe that it would be more hill station(y) and thereby cool(er) than Chennai but it was disappointing as it was horribly hot. So much so that I fell sick immediately on my return and it made me not want to write about the trip. But then I saw a picture of a “Bird of Paradise flower” yesterday that reminded me of the beautiful resort we stayed at in Coorg and I wanted to share pictures of the beautiful flowers, trees and plants that we saw there. So this Earth day, join me as I take you on this visual journey with inspiring pics of nature.

Bird of Paradise flower

For this Mother-daughter fun trip we stayed at a luxury spa resort. It is an expensive place but I got a really good Summer deal on it. The entire resort was a reminder of the BHEL township I used to live in (and written so much about in my old posts) so we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at a very familiar setting. I loved walking around the resort, looking at plants, taking pictures, sketching and just sitting at the reading nook to read. My mom had some spa time while I soaked at the pool, it was gorgeous. Did I mention that the resort was next to Nisargadhama one of the 8 islands of the River Kaveri in Coorg and so the river was flowing through the resort? As Kaveri is also the lifeline of Trichy, old memories came flooding back. We only wished that we could stay a.k.a live there forever.


My favourite corner was the one with the red telephone box. Our “room” was a quaint little cottage with a normal private garden replete with a lily pond and normal chairs where we enjoyed a lazy evening snack.

The tag line of the resort was that its the “Rabbit hole for the soul” and was designed taking inspiration from Alice in Wonderland. So there were these quaint little quotes all around.



Coffee Plantation

There were so many many beautiful flowers there and I was inspired to create resin jewelry by embedding them. So I sought permission from the resort, plucked them, sourced cat litter (clumping as I couldn’t find Silica gel litter) and plastic container in an unfamiliar small town to dry the flowers and carted them all the way back to Chennai to find out that the flowers were completely dried out due to the heat and it was an epic fail 🙁 I have been drying variations of flower drying ever since, I am yet to try salt drying, but almost always they get spoiled afterwards due to the extreme heat and humidity not even giving me a chance to put them in resin. Maybe I ought to try it in the cooler months.

So that was a small sample of what we saw on the trip. I found something (or was it someone?) special on this trip and I will write about it soon. If these pictures seem familiar then you have either been to the Amanvana Spa and resort or you seen this pics on Instagram. Not yet following me on IG? Click here to follow Jewelsofsayuri to learn more new offerings, behind the scenes secrets and a wee bit more about my life.

I hope you found it interesting
Cheers

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Spiral wire Earrings

Of all design motifs I love spirals the most and for good reason for they are the most basic and one of the oldest designs known to man. Math and art geeks would associate Spirals with all things beautiful due to the Golden proportion and the Archimedian spiral Sanatana Dharma on which Hinduism is based on states that AUM is the primordial sound and the basis for all creation.

Of all design motifs I love spirals the most and for good reason for they are the most basic and one of the oldest designs known to man. Math and art geeks would associate Spirals with all things beautiful due to the Golden proportion and the Archimedian spiral
Sanatana Dharma on which Hinduism is based on states that AUM is the primordial sound and the basis for all creation. The visual representation of the letter or the symbol AUM is incomplete without the spiraling loop. The Primordial spirals begin with a loop and continue to grow outward to infinity and beyond. This most basic spiral is called “Suzhi” in Tamil, yes like in the phrase “Pillaiyar suzhi” ( Curling symbol of Lord Ganesha – the elephant headed God)* which is used as the first symbol or expression of thought when starting to do any handwork – from writing to sculpting. See the end of the post for an elaborate footnote.

Likewise, loops and spirals are the foundation for wire jewelry. With a few simple turns of your pliers you can turn even the most humble piece of wire, into a work of art as spirals represent creation, beauty and adornment.

Spiral wire Earrings

I have made many different spiral earrings over the years and they continue to be my favourites ( I even wore one today) so when this month’s Earrings everyday, we are all ears monthly challenge reveal was on Spirals I just had to participate. The first design is inspired by the curls and spirals on a tendril or a creeper and is called the Spiraling Tendril.

Spiral wire Earrings

It is an ornate pair of earrings with annodised aluminum wire and mirror work beadsThe Second design is one of my personal favourites – its simple, elegant, classy and yet rich enough to accompany dressy clothes. I get compliments whenever I wear it even though my pair is quite old. I have made multiples of it over time and yet I always feel excited about it.


Our Inspiration


Out Inspiration was the fiddlehead fern. Chennai, where I live, is super crazy hot now, its been like that for a while (No, we don’t have spring here – just a long summer) so associating the inspiration with spring and the color green was difficult. Hence I chose the form over the color and created my own concept. Do check out what the other designs in the We’re All Ears :: April Reveal

* Footnote

Lord Ganesha, is referred to as the custodian of the AUM sound as his form bears acute resemblance to the visual representation of AUM and people believe that as Ganesha is the destroyer of obstacles drawing a symbolic representation of him – the Pillaiyar Suzhi will remove any obstacles in their path to success.

I hope you found it interesting
Cheers

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Tuberose jewellery for haldi

Coming next in the series of floral bridal jewellery sets, is a set created using rose and tuberose flowers. Originally meant to be a jasmine set, the design for this set was changed so many times that I have lost track of them.

Coming next in the series of floral bridal jewellery sets, is a set created using rose and tuberose flowers. Originally meant to be a jasmine set, the design for this set was changed so many times that I have lost track of them.

Often costumes and jewellery used in hit movies make a huge impact on the minds of the people, prompting them to look for identical fashions, when it comes to styling themselves. This “self designer” phenomena happens not only when a movie releases but also after it gets aired on popular TV channels. One such movie that brought flower jewellery into focus is Bahubali – A Tamil/Telugu a blockbuster fictional historic movie of epic proportions) where the female lead (Tamannah) wears an elaborate set in a romantic dream sequence duet song “Pachai thee neeyadha” (see video below). Another song from this movie that is worth watching in the jewelry context is Manohari which has brought back silver ethnic jewelry in a big way.


Naturally I got a lot of queries to make such sets but I couldnt make them, simply because I just didnt know how (Believe me I am planning to remedy this by learning it very soon). But this one person wouldnt take no for an answer. She wanted a white and red set, preferably with jasmine for her soon to be sister-in-law and we brainstormed so many different way in which we could do it weeks ahead of the function. Then it rained.

There was hardly any good jasmine available for weeks and what was available was extremely expensive. To add to that, the designs we discussed required the flowers remain as buds but the damn jasmine kept blooming everytime I tried experimenting with it. Here is one such experiment, my instagram followers would have seen it way back in December

Compared to the ones worn in the video this naturally sucked and after contacting a few learned folks I realised that the flower used is not Jasmine (Malli poo) but Wax flower (moon beam flower) also know as Nandiavattai in tamil or Chandini in Hindi. Having grown up, caring for these Nandiyavattai plants (or rather trees) till I was 18, and seeing the flower bloom endlessly I felt like a fool; how could I not have recognised it? Was there a big portion of my past that I had forgotton to help me transition into city life? The even bigger question (at that moment) was where do I find it in Chennai?
I was told that it was unavailable in Chennai, had to come from Erode, had a minimum order quantity and costs almost as much as jasmine 🙁 I was super frustrated for I remember these flowers always blooming in excess and we not knowing what to do with it. They were never worn by women and was only used as an offering to the Gods. The idea of using the buds of the flower never even struck us then.

As I was talking about all this to an expert from the field, she suggested that I try using Tuberose or Sampanghi (also called Rajnigandha) which is generally used to create scents or temple garlands. With time running out, I pitched a new look and a different design idea to the bride who thankfully accepted it and this is what I made – a set with tuberose and red rose buds consisting of a necklace, earrings, maang tikka and a haath phool.

My parents kept looking at me in a weird way while I was making the set. I guess I must have made quite a scene sitting in my couch, needle and thread in hand, surrounded by bags of tuberose, looking intently, experimenting with patterns, checking them out in the mirror every few minutes and talking to myself in the process – the things we do in the name of design!!

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Life’s lessons learned in 2015

Retrospect:a survey or review of a past course of events or period of timeIntrospect:examine one’s own thoughts or feelingsAs 2015 edges to a close it is time to both retrospect and introspect the things that have happened and more importantly the lessons that I have learnt from them.

Retrospect:a survey or review of a past course of events or period of time
Introspect:examine one’s own thoughts or feelings
As 2015 edges to a close it is time to both retrospect and introspect the things that have happened and more importantly the lessons that I have learnt from them.

Life's lessons learned in 2015


1. Interact and network – yes I need people too!
Though I am an extrovert and can have a conversation with anybody, I like the quiet and peace of being alone. I am very friendly but I dont make friends easily. This quality of mine is less useful to me as a person and even lesser as a professional. This year I tried my best to meet new people and interact with them on both professional as well as a personal basis. If nothing the Chennai floods was a huge reminder of how we are all dependent on one another at every level and I am glad that I took a step forward.

2. Gain more knowledge
2015 gave me the opportunity to become more knowledgeable. I was able to develop some unique techniques which resulted in my collections such as Romani and Paprika. M I was fortunate to attend talks on design given by national and international designers and attend 6 workshops this year – on metal embossing, Origami, research methodology, Calligraphy and finally 2 on makeup. Out of them I organised four for my students, so I learnt more about networking, organisation and relationship management apart from learning actual skills.y efforts at trying to be a better teacher and writer; enabled me to write for Favecrafts. It was wonderful and I hope that I get similar opportunities the coming year too.


3.There are no permanent solutions to health problems
This was my costliest lesson of 2015. Most regular readers of this blog know that I battle with ortho-neuro conditions on a regular basis. Motivated by an ‘impossible to stand on swollen leg’ that was caused by a simple slip and fall I started to seek out more “permanent or good treatment” for my problems. As I hate being dependent on painkillers or steroids (they can be pretty cruel) for more than a short period I tried Spinal decompression therapy which is supposed be painless, harmless and permanent. Guess what it was neither of them and the side effects continue to plague me in many ways than I care to admit. This sandwiched between 2 rounds of typhoid, allergies, respiratory and circulatory issues along with countless hospital visits made 2015 an exceptionally sucky year on the health front. I realised that exercise, diet, medicines they can all do only so much. Also seeing my elderly parents battle with their share of health issues on a daily basis making me realise that I am better off coping with pain rather than finding impossible solutions for it.

4.Learn to let go
2015 was a hard busy year, I was working a minimum of 12-15 hours a day everyday just to handle my day job, blog and Sayuri. It was exhausting in my health condition and so I had to make many compromises. I made 3 normal collections instead of 4 substantial ones and I didn’t market my designs or brand at all; If it sold, it sold. Instead I took up Bridal orders even though they were repetitive. I blogged only once a week and reduced the number of challenges that I participated in. I leaned heavily on my parents for help. I prioritized like crazy and in the end did so much than I expected to do. Learning to let go the compulsion to do it all and asking for help for one of the hardest things I have had to learn this year and experience tell me that it will come in handy in my future too.

bridal jewelry

bridal jewelry


4. Try New Things – you will be better for it
2015 was the year of trying new experiences from presenting a paper at an international conference to watching a movie (at a theater) by myself, from vacationing abroad solo to trying out new recipes it was all fabulous. I crossed a few things of my bucket list for 2015 easily – like teach a new course every semester, learn new jewelry making technique(s), take mini vacations, pet a wild animal, write/blog for international publication houses and brands, and read a book while enjoying a quiet Chinese meal at a restaurant (seems impossible right?). But a few more like returning to zentangling, painting and coloring and learning to make pasta or cheesecake took forever to do (Okay don’t laugh at me, the seemingly easy ones didn’t quite pan out as expected)


4. Pride goes before a fall:
I live by this adage and try not to feel proud of anything I do. But sometimes Pride like anger gets the better of me, especially when I think I am doing good work and creates enemity where none should have and could have existed. So my biggest lesson 2015 taught me was to consider my good work or success as my duty and failure as an opportunity to improve myself. I made myself this textile art for my work space as a reminder of this lesson.


These are my lessons and I hoped that I have learned something useful from them. I ask God to give me the wisdom to implement my learning in 2016. I’m sharing my #TalesOf2015 with BlogAdda. As one year ends and another begins at this juncture, I found this ancient Sanskrit prayer make much sense.

“Om
May we all live protected & nourished
May we work together with great enthusiasm
for the benefit of humanity
May our intellect be sharpened through effective study
Let there be no hatred amongst us
Let there be peace (in us), in our environmant and in the divine forces, Om.”

Wishing all of you a very very happy New year. I hope that it is wonderful, kind, prosperous and happy.
I hope you found it interesting
Cheers

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Chennai Rains

This week the only thing that I can write about is the rains in Chennai and nothing else. Dear Mother Nature,This is a letter Prayer to you from Chennai

This week the only thing that I can write about is the rains in Chennai and nothing else.
Dear Mother Nature,
This is a letter Prayer to you from Chennai. After nearly a month of continuous rainfall we are thankful that now you have taken mercy on us and stopped, but Chennai is devastated. Not that you are to blame in the first place. We all knew that November and December are peak monsoon months for Chennai – but we were unprepared for what hit us. When it rained heavily in November and places were flooded we thought that it will be like the 2005 flood where certain low lying areas will be disturbed and we went back to our lives. We were complacent and extremely selfish.

chennairains

It was human greed that promoted us to build houses over dried up lakes and marsh areas without considering an eventuality like this. We threw plastic garbage all over the city which clogged up drains and complained when the government was unable to clean it. We kept raising the roads, each time it was laid; we kept the rain water harvesting tanks to minimum. We tried to change the course of rivers and canals to suit our needs.We cut trees recklessly to create more apartments and covered every bit of visible earth with cement. We drove a number of birds away from their nests, cats and dogs from their homes and fed newspaper to livestock. We were stupid, greedy, selfish and forgot to see the “bigger picture”.

I understand that as “Mother nature” your role is to keep us humans, in check. You have a duty towards all species and not just any one of them. That means, sometimes you have to take drastic action to safeguard the environment. Yes, you did give us a warning a few weeks back but we didnt grasp the situation properly. I realise that its a fool’s errand to request you for one more chance – to change, to learn and to evolve. Judging by history, it is most likely that we might not but we are all not bad.


This rain – highest in over a century caused a lot of damage – people and animals drowned, many patients could not get medical help or even oxygen after surgery and are dead, many people are homeless, sick and cold in temporary shelters, poisonous snakes are in the water, many houses are irreversibly damaged. Lakes broke, airport and railway stations are under water, pets died, bridges collapsed and cars drowned.
But, it has brought out the real nature of chennaiites. People have opened up their hearts and homes to strangers who need a place to stay or food or drink. During the first flood, when most of were busy in our offices, a food chain called Kolapasi prepared and distributed food to a large group of people. This started a ripple effect and during the second flood, individuals, hotels, industrial kitchens, NGOs all came together to cook and distribute food for Lakhs of people over 2-3 days and are still continuing it. People are rushing to pharmacies and bakeries to buy supplies for the rescue mission. Actors have lent their SUVs for transport and their fans are volunteering. Children are coming forward to donate whatever pocket money or piggy bank money they have to the volunteers to continue buying supplies.

People are bringing in food from Coimbatore and Bangalore, clothes from the US and its overwhelming. People are travelling from other parts of the country to Chennai to work as volunteers. Many are jumping into waist high water to save animals on the street.Without thinking about religion, caste or region, Chennai people are pitching in – Muslim brothers are cleaning up temples, Sikhs and Christians are cooking and distributing supplies together and Hindus are coordinating all their efforts. Both the rich and the poor are together in rescue camps mourning over their houses and lost possessions. Marwaris, kannadigas, Gujarati, Telugus, north Indians and Tamils are wandering the streets together rescuing people. Yes, mother nature you have equalised us in your own way.

We learnt that ” Self help is the best help” – and we should help each other instead of waiting for the government or God to come rescue us. We realised that social media – can be used to do so much “Socially useful productive work” if we so desire.

Having no power (current) for 3+ days and as a result having no water, no cell signal, huge business losses and food going bad really fast, we realised how “powerless” we are without power. We ate simple food with gratitude as soon as it was cooked. We played games as a family and spoke to one another about life experiences in the absence of power without being buried knee deep in our smartphones or TV serials. We also learnt that by going cashless we aren’t really going anywhere. Even the money we had was worthless – with people willing to pay even Rs.1000 for a packet of milk for a baby or Rs.100 for a single sanitary napkin but they were just not available. We were less bothered about the media reporting what happened and more bothered about logging on to FB (particularly Chennai shopping group) or twitter for a few minutes which was a lifeline that coordinated all rescue efforts.

We will mourn for all we have lost shortly, but now we salute our heroes – all the good hearted volunteers, our Police and our army who are assisting the flood affected people – physically, emotionally and monetarily!!



Mother, as we hear disturbing news about more rainfall coming our way, we are frightened and we doubt our ability to fight and survive once again. But we will not panic nor lose our way. So Please help us; allow us to recover. In the midst of such catastrophe, and survivor’s guilt mounting in me, I can only think of a prayer that I learnt at school as a child.

“We, your children are not without faults; Pardon us for our sins and deliver us from Evil”

PS: * Update Many are writing to me to ask about donations for flood relief – Please visit this well curated Online Chennai website to see how you can help Chennai – Thanks !!

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Wedding favours – jhoomars

A few months back, a to-be bride wrote to me asking if I could do a flower jewelry set. During our discussion, she suddenly asked me if I could make a passa or jhoomar

A few months back, a to-be bride wrote to me asking if I could do a flower jewelry set. During our discussion, she suddenly asked me if I could make a passa or jhoomar. Having no idea what it was, I turned to google and found that a jhoomar could be
Jhoomar – A (generally) large cascading chandelier or a light fixture.
Jhoomar – A Pakistani film written and directed by Syed Noor
Jhoomar – A form of fold music and dance that is accompanied by a lot of swaying and said to originated in Balochistan
Jhoomar – A fan shaped hair/head ornament worn on the side of the head by brides or dancers; also known as a Passa

The Passa looked harmless so I said that I could make one but then she told me that she wanted – a light weight jhoomar with no stones, pearls, preferably with flowers, triangular in shape,using gota, without circular base, in colors of her choice and within her budget!! Whew! I made 2-3 samples and sent her. She really liked one but I wasnt convinced about the finish and outcome nevertheless I figured I could make one piece easily.
But then came the shocker – she wanted 50 of them to be given away as wedding favours for her sangeet function which is a pre-wedding song and dance event – kinda like a bachelorette party. I was dumbfounded. I had never made a proper jhoomar in my life before with these materials (which were not available in Chennai) but to make 50 of them in less than 15 days time within the budget was impossible. I tried saying no; neither could I do it according to my quality standards nor I could make so many pieces. But then the bride convinced me somehow to make them for her.

flower jhoomar wedding favors
The red – orange-pink palette

Let me be honest here – The bride did give me a reference pic of a really beautiful jhoomar but none of the materials to make it were readily available in Chennai and I wasnt convinced that I could make everything from scratch at her budget. So I compromised. I looked for similar materials – gold roses, colored micro roses, cord and sequin tape. But as bad luck would have it my local stores like me did not believe in mass production and so I couldnt get the materials I wanted and had used in my sample. My mom sweetly stepped in and hunted stores, throughout the city to get gold roses for me. She did find them but they were bigger and shinier than what we wanted but we had to make do with them. I wasn’t really sure if they would turn out right and informed my client giving her alternate options. But then she had her heart set on one design and asked me to do it in the best possible way.

gota jhoomar wedding favors
The blue-violet palette

Armed with my trusty glue gun, I started to work. Each jhoomar had about 7 layers – the gold roses, colored micro roses, stones on top, cord and sequin tape, the base felt. and the dangles to complete them. We had originally planned that it would be worn on the hair with just a hair pin but the bride wanted some type of hook. The necklace hooks were too big and clumsy to be used on the head and we wanted something more delicate. We looked around the house and found a packet of blouse hooks that I had bought during my college days. (Yes! we are hoarders!!) The whole process was elaborate and had to be done 50+1 times letting the pieces cool between each layer. However we didn’t like the finish. So my mom and I started sewing the tapes shut and attached them to the roses and then attached hooks to to them. Our hands were numb half way from all the needle pokes while sewing through 6 layers of the tape.

ribbon flower jhoomar wedding favors

It took my mom and me a good part of 2 weeks to finish them due to my day job. I would rush home after work, finish my prep for the next day’s class, thrown in an occasional blog post and would start working on them. After going through 2 sheets of felt, 714 roses, 5 sticks of glue and a box full of dangles, they were finally done and we were so happy. Maybe a little disappointed with the overall look but happy. They were decently finished, colorful, lightweight, done on time, and within the budget. They did turn out a little bigger than we imagined (they would have been so much prettier if they were daintier) and we would have liked an actual gota for the tapes and roses but we had never thought we would be able to actually make something like this – so ‘A’ for effort!

Though I wont be taking on a project like this any time soon, I learnt a lot about tackling the challenge of production, assembly line setups, variations, etc. I couldn’t have completed the 51 pieces (we made one for the bride too!) without my mom’s help, so a huge Thank you to her 🙂 The next time I do something like this I think that I’ll be more prepared and clear regarding expectations, outcomes and the effort required for it. Despite everything, it was a fun project and I hope that it was close to what the bride had in her mind and that her guests enjoyed wearing them.

So tell me, in the comments, about the time when you were faced with a similar challenge. How did you tackle it?

I hope you found it interesting
Cheers

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