By Hand From The Heart is a biannual Makers Market held in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a happy woman who is close to completing her half century on this beautiful planet. I am a very passionate person when it comes to my work and l love my family more than anything else in the world. I feel it is my responsibility to make this world a better place in whichever small way possible and hence I strive towards it every day of my life.
Meet other new makers this February 2016 : UPCOMING EVENT:
How would you describe what you do; and how long have you been making and creating?
I am an artist who loves creating and experimenting with Papier-mache. But along with that, I also am an entrepreneur who runs a workshop where I train and employ about 15 unskilled handicapped/needy women. I have been painting and making papier mache dolls, murals and other craft items since last 29 years. I started this out as a hobby but after some really successful exhibitions in the Scandinavian countries and India too, I decided to dive into this more seriously. Initially, I used to teach a couple of handicapped girls papier- mache craft with a helping intent in heart and with a motive to help them become independent. Slowly, I refined my art and my work evolved into a business model and now I manage to provide employment and boost confidence of 15 odd needy women.
Tell us about your recent works and your proposed showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.
I specialise in making costumed papier-mache dolls, like none other in the world. I have always felt the need to promote Indian culture and traditions through my art. Though I also make foreign dolls, my main focus has been on portraying Indian mythology, values and tradition through thematic dolls sets. We make dolls showing Indian classical dances, Indian folk dances, tribal folk, women at work, brides and grooms of India, couples from different states of India, Dasavataram set, Radha-Krishna set, the nativity scene, the Buddha enlightenment scene, epic scenes from Mahabharatha and Ramayana, scenes from a typical Indian village and weddings etc. I intend to bring and showcase some of these at By Hand, From Heart.
Can you describe your work place / space?
Our workplace is a small, comfortable place that we have built over the years. We have shifted base thrice in the same city but it is always stacked with loads of all the artsy things that we need to make the dolls-cloth pieces, laces, paints, newspaper, hard gum, wires and other raw materials. We have upgraded by bringing in some small machines like the attachakki, drilling machine to help us do the more strenuous work with a bit of ease.
But, it is the friendly banter of the women working here, the sound of tearing of the paper, the gum and paint smell and the whole positive vibe that this space has, that is worth experiencing.
What is a typical day at ARTEKRAFT like.
At Artefakt, a typical day starts at 10 in the morning and we wrap up by 6, but I alone sit late nights sometimes (read it as most times), my work and I are like opposite sides of a magnet, the attraction and pull is just too much! Or as my husband likes to say, I can get so engrossed that I would hardly notice the transition from the natural light to artificial light and vice versa. Jokes apart, we all at Artefakt have to look after and care for our families and give our cent percent to our work, it can get quite demanding and challenging with the orders pouring in but what fun is life without the hardships and the learning that follows. Our workshop staff is divided into groups which take care of different parts of the making of the dolls- making papier-mache, making the basic dolls structure, giving them the smooth finish, painting them, clothing them, decorating them and then packing them, all of this keeps happening simultaneously. And it’s actually quite nice to see at the end of the day how productive the day has been. Not to forget the overwhelming love and the petty disagreements and fights that the women have here each day which make the place more lively! 😀
What/who inspires you? Or how do you find inspiration?
My mother has been my biggest inspiration. It was her belief in me that helped me tread steadily on this path. I am a science graduate who did an MPhil in Public Administration; would have taken up a regular job too had it not been for my mother. She was the one who saw my potential in arts and encouraged me to follow my passion. She was the one who taught me to work for the greater good and today another big source of inspiration are the women who work with me at Artefakt, looking at them and what the art has given them is a great driving force too. Also, without my family’s (father, husband, daughter, extended family and friends) support I sure wouldn’t have been able to go this far.
Can you describe your creative process and what is the most rewarding part of the creative process for you?
When an idea in your head turns into a physical being, turns into what you wanted it to be like, all the hard-work that goes into doing so pays off. The creative satisfaction is what keeps the artist going. I am the one who does the ideating, the teaching, training and the finishing but I am proud of how far the others working with me have come. So, another rewarding part of my creative process is seeing the many unskilled women in my workshop doing their work really well, it revives my confidence in my decision of doing what I do and how I do.
What’s the best thing about being a designer?
You can turn your ideas into beautiful reality, having the ability to shape your ideas into art pieces that you can hold and keep, I think is the best thing about being a designer. Having the freedom of expression and the space to experiment are added bonuses!
What would you say to someone thinking about selling their work?
Being an artist you tend to get very attached to your work, but you have to remember that all good things in this world are to be shared, so is your art. You get emotionally involved in your art but sharing those emotions and spreading the joy is what makes your art noble. Selling your work only makes you capable of pursuing your passion further as it then feeds your stomach and family. And the happiness of an artist shows in his/her work. So, it is of utmost importance to be financially stable to keep your creativity going, do not ever hesitate to sell your work thus.
Anything exciting on the cards for the coming months?
I have some very interesting orders lined up, the kind of themes that I haven’t worked on earlier and also some amazing exhibitions to participate in. Our website, is also going to be up and running soon so we are quite excited about that too.
Ramani had showcased her handcrafted paper mache costume dolls at the By Hand, From The Heart Artisan & Farmers Market | 7- 8 August 2015 | 10 a.m – 8 p.m | Hanu Reddy Residences, 41/19, Poes Garden, Teynampet, Chennai.
Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/791353340961431/ (event closed)