Let’s Paper Mache!

The wait for summer holidays always seem endless. As the holidays come closer my ‘to-do’ list becomes longer and it continues to become longer all through the holidays! The list is also as endless as the wait  for summer hols! Always! Apart from trekking or travelling, one of the ‘to-do’ is that I involve the kids in making the most of the warm summer days through art & craft ideas for projects, birthdays, or just decorations for their room; or to capture moments, of our vacation/ adventures as keepsakes. I have always found working on smaller craft projects invigorating and challenging. These summer hols, Yashaana and I worked on Paper Mache projects (my son, claims he is too grown up for this stuff!).

We made our Paper Mache pulp with old newspapers. Here are three of the recipes that I use (depending on how much time I have):

Paper Mache Recipe 1- This is the recipe I usually follow because it is so simple and I always have the ingredients in my cupboard. I make paste of refined flour with water (pancake batter consistency). No cooking required.

Paper Mache Recipe 2- This paste recipe is very similar to Recipe 1 except that the same paste is diluted further and cooked till it turns translucent. It is supposed to be a little stronger and it dries to almost transparent finish.

Important Tip: Before starting your project, cover it completely with either two layers of newspaper or cling film. I prefer the latter. It makes it easy for the dried paper mache project to come off its mold. Any object at home can be your mold for the paper mache project. You can use bowls, plate, glasses etc. Just make sure that the shape is such that it can easily come off the dried paper mache project (or else your mold/container will be stuck!). 

Procedure for Recipes 1 & 2:

  • Tear the newspaper into long strips or small pieces and keep aside.
  • Spread few layers of newspaper on the surface you’ll be working on.
  • Dip these pieces into either Recipe 1 or 2 and keep applying smooth layers on your project, flatten the layers with your finger tips and remove excess flour paste.
  • Add at least 5 to 6 layers of paper-mâché to your surface. Layering makes it stronger; there is no rule to how many layers. You be the judge.
  • Leave to dry completely in a well ventilated place (not in the sun). It may take a couple of days. It becomes as hard as wood once well dried.
  • Nudge the dried paper mâché off the mold by unwrapping the cling film. Once released off the mold, peel off the cling film completely.
  • Now your project is ready for paint or embellishments. You can use acrylic paints.
  • Apply a coat of clear varnish, once you are through with colouring or decorating your project and when it is dry.
  • The clear varnish prevents the acrylic paint from chipping and gives the paper mâché project shine as well as strength.

Paper Mache Recipe 3- Tear the paper into small pieces and soak overnight in water, add a bit of salt/ boric powder to retard mold growth. Next, sieve the soaked paper pieces and pound them using mortar pestle or anything heavy available at home, use the floor (un-tiled) as your base for pounding. Once I used my wet grinder! Had a tough time cleaning it!

Squeeze out excess water and add PVA glue to form very grainy-dough like consistency. Wrap it in cling film to store in refrigerator (or else it starts smelling if you don’t use it a day or two).

Procedure for Recipe 3:

Follow the ‘Important Tip’. Now all you have to do is use this coarse dough as you would use modeling clay. It is just like working with putty or modeling clay. Keep applying it to your mold and flatten it with your finger tips. Make sure that the dough you spread is even (in terms of thickness) all around the mold, especially around the rim (in case of open containers). The painting procedure for this Recipe is also same as above. 

Personally, I prefer to sand the dried paper mache project, with emery paper, before I start painting on it. It gives smoother effect.  Its okay if you don’t want to sand it, the surface is very easy to paint, allowing you to stencil, sponge with bright colours, add interesting designs to your finished product. You may also glue and embed sequins, beads, crystal etc. 

We made Recipe 3, this time, as we had time on our hand. Yashaana wanted to make a bowl, a pen stand and a ‘hold-all’ box for her craft material. Here are some pictures of one of our summer projects! 

made holes in the ‘hold-all’ box (when it was still wet) on either sides, as I wanted to add a string to give it a bag like effect. 

PS- I am sorry I don’t have pictures of while we were making it 🙁 I hadn’t planned to blog it.

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Organize and Decorate with Things at Home

Till date I haven’t been able to understand my mom’s (and my mom-in-law’s) insistence on keeping the nice crockery, crystal bowls, exquisite bed covers mats/cushion covers etc. hidden in the closets or cupboards. I have never seen them use any of it! The ‘logical’ reasoning that I have, forever, been getting (from them) is- “It’s for the special guests/occasions”. I am yet to see that ‘special’ guest or the ‘special’ occasion! B’coz whenever a special occasion or a guest did arrive, the ‘logical’ reasoning then changed to- ‘They can do without it/ why get in the hassle / it might break!’ Hellooo! Wasn’t it bought for the same reason?!! I guess the fear of losing (breaking) their collection stops them from using it. So… what I am trying to say here is, that all those pretty prized possessions  are going to go waste and may not remain pretty when eventually brought out  for display/ use! I really wish I could get my hands on their stuff and lay it out for them!

Sounds familiar? I bet it does!

Learning from them, I have promised myself never to let anything (new, old or expensive) sit in my cupboard for more than 3 months, if it’s been bought for home; it better be put to use. That’s the rule I follow. There are so many ways to organize and decorate with things at home; one can change the look of their home without spending a penny. One of the great ways to de-clutter and organize tit-bits around your home is to use containers to corral things.

love using trays, shallow dishes, boxes, platters and baskets to organize clutter all around my home… until I have time to sort and put things back in their designated places.

These containers not only help in corralling things, they also disguise the clutter or chaos on the table tops/ counter top. Let me put it this way- Containers bring order to the chaos and make it all look fab!

There is no rule that says that I can’t use my pottery dishes on my bedside table or anywhere in my home! It doubles as my clutter hold-all and as additional crockery as and when needed!

My shallow glass dishes work as my candle holders, perfume bottle holder, incense holders, potpourri holders and so much more. Display a pretty glass bowl on a table top, fill it with fruit or floating flowers, or pillar candles. 

Baskets, especially wicker baskets, are my all time favourite organizing ‘work horses’. They come in so many versatile and appealing shapes and sizes that you can never have enough of them, ever! I use them all over my house for de-cluttering anything and everything around the house. They also make great ‘carry-around’ buddies.

If you have lovely stuff just sitting in the cupboard waiting for special occasions, its time you took them out. Rummage through your cupboards and take out things that have been sitting there forever and ever and use them! Everything that you use will jazz up your home decor and will make you feel happy that you’ve been able to do something that your mom / mother-in-law couldn’t!

Instead of hiding your pretty dishes, baskets, boxes, trays, containers, vases, crockery etc., display them in your home; Put them to use. Have fun creating a mix and match of unique decor for your home with the things you already have; making each day a ‘special’ occasion and YOU being the ‘special’ guest! After all, it’s better to use it every day than to lose it in a day…without using it even once!


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My ‘Treasured’ Coffee Table!

My penchant for collecting ‘just-about-everything-under-the-sun’ to satiate my creative urges has had the entire family going bonkers!

‘Gangarams’ on MG Road, Bangalore, ‘Venus Traders’ and ‘Tulsi Baug’ in Pune, ‘Crawford’ in Mumbai, ‘Staples’ in GIP-Noida, ‘Sita Ram’ and ‘Yash’ in South Ex. New Delhi, ‘Thukral Brothers’ in Karol Bagh and Chawri Bazaar in Delhi; these are my all time favourite haunts! I visit them as often as I can or I ensure my hubby dearest visits them (with my lists) when he tours. That’s how addicted I am! By the way I haven’t revealed all of them!

All rooms, in all of our previous homes (there were many) always had a stolen corner or a place where I would stash my art & craft supplies, DIY tools, handmade paper etc; be it my husband’s almirah, my children’s wardrobe, study room cabinets, living room bureau, Kitchen storeroom…the list is endless! Needless to say my own wardrobe and dresser! Thank God for my family’s tremendous resilience to put up with my hobbies!

The biggest trouble has always been, storing my huge collection of handmade sheets and craft paper (all 3’ X 2’ in size). I could never bring myself to roll them up for storage. Can you guess how have I been storing it (‘flat’ of course!) till now? I used to place heaps of sheets under the mattresses of all the beds, in all the three bedrooms! At times I wonder why hasn’t my family disowned me till now?!

Anyhow, having given you the entire story about my ‘eccentricities’ and the discomfort that I had been causing (for so many years), to my family; my earnest desire was to own customized storage furniture/unit for my various collections; especially, for my handmade paper collection. I had in mind, a 3.10’ X 2.10’, 14” high and 6” deep coffee table to store my paper collection (to store them ‘flat’ of course!). My hubby quickly drew a rough sketch of the coffee table and that first sketch was exactly what I wanted! You will soon know why I call it- My “Treasured’ Coffee Table!

The idea of re-purposing the old kitchen cabinets (the coffee table’s dimensions fit the idea) was stuck in my head; Hubby dearest sawed out the best, two, pieces from the old cabinets (the old pantry doors). Our carpenter was happy to make the coffee table of my dreams!

A teak veneer was used to cover the old cabinetry ply boards aka the “Hardworking” Coffee Table! It was polished and buffed from the outside; inside out you will see the memories of the old kitchen.

Finally, I own a ‘storeroom’ that sits pretty in the center of our living room! I am in love with my Coffee Table! Not because it holds my precious treasure but also because I could re use the old cabinets.

Linking up with: Miss Mustard Seed, Funky Junk Interiors

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Headboard Ideas

When designing for Headboards for the beds in our home I went crazy browsing the web. Found some unique designs, liked them a lot but couldn’t incorporate them in any of my designs (as it didn’t work out with the decor). Anyhow, I especially liked the following Headboard Ideas. Maybe someday I will do it for friends/relatives or perhaps for myself.
HeadBoard Ideas
The Headboard  pictures also carries the name of the blog or the website that posted them. Although my all time favourite collection is with Better homes and Gardens. They have the most awesome collection! These headboards not only look unique but seem so very do-able. One can draw inspiration from them to replace the material used in them with something unique (and available!) lying with you. Could be anything from old book jackets, posters, placemats, ‘chattai’ (wicker rugs), framed hessian cloth or simply hang a series of similar sized single coloured or multicoloured cushions as your headboard!

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DIY Headboard

Headboards not only give the room a focal point, but also add ‘drama’ to the finished look of the bed and the bedroom; and needless to say they make sitting in the bed comfortable! All the theory about ‘focal point’ and ‘finished look’ had to be trashed when I was designing for Yashaana’s bed. She made one thing very clear, she wanted a headboard with changeable covers  matching her curtains or the bed sheets! The bed I designed for her albeit had ample under bed box storage, drawer storage at the foot-board, but was without a grand headboard (the initial design had a lovely scalloped headboard).  The bed  had a simple one foot high attached headboard. The idea was to add another piece as the headboard as an extension which gave me the flexibilty to change upholstery as per Yashaana’s request.

The leftover piece of a ply board (5’ x 2’) lying in the basement became the base for the DIY project that I had in mind for her headboard. The idea was simple; to make a wall mounted headboard with a ply board that is covered with 3 inch thick sheet of sponge and cloth. It turned out to be a pretty neat DIY Headboard replacement against an expensive one! The whole idea of doing it myself gives me a high and a sense of satisfaction that I have been able to utilize the available resources/unused items lying at home, with least bit of expenditure. It took me four hours to complete this project. The following photographs are a broad guideline of how we (Yashaana & Self) did it. The first step was to cut and glue the 3” sponge sheet to completely cover right side of the 5’ x 2’ ply board.

Then I covered the sponge with a cloth (in this case I had an extra curtain from Yashaana’s Bedroom!) and before I stapled the cloth at the back to finish the look I tried my hand at quilting. For quilting we covered some wooden buttons with a shocking pink velvet and left a long trail of quilting thread (so that it could be pulled back sandwiching the cloth cover, sponge and the ply board). I secured the pulled back buttons ( to stay in ‘pulled back’ state) by tying a simple knot over small pieces of waste cloth. Although the quilting didn’t turn out to be as great as I had expected but never the less it looked just fine with the pink buttons sitting in the centre of the petaled flowers.

Before we hung the Headboard, we decided to add a dash of white highlight (with fabric colour) to the grey flowers on the cloth.

The final look! Not bad for a first timer!

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Ekta & Sanjeev’s Indo-Chic Home!

Over the past 18 years, and close to a dozen odd tenures, I’ve come across some of the most resourceful ‘fauji’ (defence) wives. In fact I’d like to call them talented, creative and resourceful genies! Some are now my friends and some just acquaintances. I guess living in a defence base inculcates a way of life which is an amalgamation of discipline, orderliness, presentation, resourcefulness and improvisation; since you see everybody practicing that. 

Also perhaps most of these bases are quite far off from townships, cities (or civilization if I may say!) that one misses the latest, trendiest or just the bling of a good market, mall or an avenue. And maybe the lack of not having access to all this brings out the most creative gene in these ladies! Psst…Let me share a secret with you; ‘Fauji’ wives have access to some of the most unique & locally available resources, folk & traditional stuff (one may not find them in cities at all!). One learns to adapt and improvise to use such resources to create a beautiful home. I’ve seen (and done it too!) a TMQ, shack, tent, ‘baasha’ or a pre- fabricated hut being converted into haven called home! And that too on a dime! One also learns not to complain or crib! ‘Necessity is the mother of all inventions.’- holds so true here! (I wish I had photos to show what I mean; maybe I’ll request my friends to send me some).

Take a peek at Ekta & Sanjeev’s indo-chic home. A 1910’s British style bungalow, which was actually a summer retreat for the British officers thanks to the salubrious climate of Pune (or Poona). One can’t make any structural (or any changes) to the place you are offered as defence residential accommodation hence all you can do is play around using your creativity and resourcefulness, to make it look like a welcoming home! 

And let me assure you that nothing has been bought from malls or showrooms as decoration pieces for their home. All you see in the photos are a collection of things that they have been acquired /picked up locally and is unique to a particular geographical place or region, over their stays all over India. 

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