By Hand From The Heart is a biannual Makers Market held in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am Dr. Nithya Doraiswamy – I am a crafter at heart and a teacher education, curriculum and instruction specialist by profession. I have three out of my four professional qualifications from the US – Graphic Designing and Computer Graphics from Platt College, Los Angeles, and MBA in International Business and Ph.D in Foundations of Education at the University of Toledo, Ohio. Loving both my areas of interest and passion, I always make time for both. A typical day at my work deskwould be craft tools amidst education journals or the other way around.
How would you describe what you do; and how long have you been making and creating?
CraftsySpark is just that – Inspirations that spark and get crafted into beautiful paper products. I have a limited range of items that I love to work with – Mostly gift tags, greetings and note cards, and gift wrapping ideas from all kinds of paper. My sister, Priya adds her framed/ printed pictures from her family’s travels to the studio offerings. We have been thinking of a craft studio for years and now seems to have been the right time. I have been doing crafting for two decades or a little more.
I think it started with letters written to my cousins abroad, or to family back home embellished with stickers and cute drawings. Later after learning graphic designing, I started designing business cards, event invites, and such. My nephew, Shivaan’s birthdays were my biggest inspiration, where I designed hand made invites, tags, and menu cards- all that drew quite a few ‘wows’. For a select group of friends, I was the go to person for gift tags and invites, and my first sale at my sister’s place years ago was sold out in few hours. My ‘other’ profession in education kept me busy for many years in between, but I kept collecting craft tools, papers, and idea books. Back home to India after yet another educational stint in the US, I decided to get back into crafting full time. My showcase at a local event in the city was a sell out; and that kick-started my craft studio idea, though it has been on the back burner for many many years now.
Tell us about your recent works and your proposed showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.
My most recent work has been mostly gift tags, Xmas cards,treat boxes, gift boxes, bags,paper flowers, and gift wrapping. For the show, I propose to display all of this at BHTFH in addition to framed pictures with original photography.
Can you describe your work place ?
I am a home entrepreneur and I work out of a small work space at home, aka, my study desk in my room. And yes, my crafting stuff spills over to the floor, on to my resting space, and even to the dining table. Any free space there is, gets filled with paper crafting materials, tools, and finished products. I love my creative mess but not sure of the others in the family that constantly have to step over papers and tools in the house.
What is a typical day at CraftsySpark like.
A typical day with CraftsySpark starts with me at my work desk finishing up some orders or creating samples. I have a notebook in which I sometimes brainstorm my ideas into a mini drawing and make notes. Usually by breakfast, I would have created a new product – a tag, a gift wrap, a card – Some not so perfect and most others, beautiful. I love to document my work through pictures and share them with friends that love to see my work. Some days are long to finish up existing work orders and some are short – just enough to lovingly glance at all my new supplies.
What/who inspires you? Or how do you find inspiration?
Everything – Family, friends, an occasion, a lovely shade of paper, a pretty coloured string, nature, a new craft tool, and mostly emails about craft store sales! A lot of friends and family that love to see my work are also my inspiration. Other than this, the creative work of other crafters is a huge inspiration, and I go to Pinterest and many craft blogs to know what’s out there and what is being created.
How do you get around creative blocks?
Mostly, I step away from my work desk to do something else related to my research in education or try a hand at cooking. Monotony in the creative process bores me – So working on an identical project for prolonged periods would wither my creativity. I stay away from really large handmade orders for a reason.I look for creative craft blogs and visuals to get inspired. Pinterest is a huge boon in overcoming creative blocks. Sometimes, I look to make something entirely new from what I am working on. I love to work with some of my clients that offer valuable inputs in overcoming blocks.
Can you describe your creative process and what is the most rewarding part of the creative process for you?
As I mentioned before, everything I come across is an inspiration. Even a coffee filter with coffee stains gets crumpled into a beautiful gift wrap topper or an accessory for wrapping… a paint splatter on the paper get shaped into a gift tag or a ribbon. And the process is sometimes slow, messy, and cluttered, and other times brilliant and instant. My most rewarding part of the process is when people love my ideas and products to appreciate and use them. One of my best moments is when my friends and clients say, “ Oh I like it so much that I don’t even feel like using them and depleting my stock – I just want to save them.” or when they make it a point to tell me that they used one of my tags for a gift. And of course the final product itself is very rewarding.
What’s the best thing about being a crafter / designer?
The creative process and its joys, doing what I love best, discovering new craft tools to work with, and the compliments my products receive! I particularly love it when I match a client’s exact design needs, and their appreciation. No day is like another at my work desk.
What would you say to someone thinking about selling their work?
To go for it -But make sure you have products that are original, beautiful, and of value to the buyer. And be happy to please people with your work.
Anything exciting on the cards for the coming months?
I am looking to launch my craft studio online along with my teacher education services. Two different directions, but both out of passion.