A Hundred Hands – Handmade Collective, Bazaar


If you saw the previous post on the mela of handmade, crafted goodies, I hope you plan to visit! The mela is on from today (23 Nov) to Sun, 27th Nov, 2011. I went there early on hoping to get in some pictures and share with you so you can plan on visiting before the week is out :).

There are so many talented people doing beautiful and meaningful work. Go check them out ! The mela is on at 4 Ashley Road, Behind Hotel Ajanta, Off MG Road ( 1 min walk from Trinity metro station). Here are a few glimpses…

Radhakrishna mud painting

Radhakrishna’s paintings with various shades of mud.

tin trunks

Painted tin trunks by Radhakrishna

traditional Indian games

Indian jigsaw

snake and ladder

Traditional Indian games by Manisha and Vaishali, of KEC Games, Mumbai. The jigsaws of endangered animals, snake and ladder, lagori pouch, nostalgia galore and great gifts for our children.

terra cotta shoes

terra cotta boots

These charming terra cotta shoes and boots make great plant holders.. any thing holders!

stories - in paper

Aditi makes treasures with all the shades of paper, lateral story telling treasures.

post it sculpture

Sculptures in.. you guessed it, Post It notes!

fabric swathes

Gond art

Gond tribal art

canvas, cloth bags

canvas, cloth bags 2the bazaar

So go visit and encourage hand made!

The very beautiful Art by Susmitha – II


Hi there again! How have you been since you read about the gorgeous jewelry created by Susmitha? Done any online shopping ;-)? If someone had told me 10 years ago that I, in India, would be sitting in my bedroom ordering diamonds online or food, or my curve ID jeans, I’d have believed the food and jeans, but not the diamonds. But that’s precisely where we are today – with just about ANYthing, and I mean ANYthing, not just anything!, available off of the net.

Distance selling was, and is, believed to be impersonal. But online shopping experiences that give you a one-on-one connect have changed that game. Stores like Etsy put you directly in touch with the seller, who is no longer an anonymous byte lurking somewhere behind layers of data! And Facebook pages have brought the private profile to the customer.

So obviously my next questions for Sus were around this phenomenon. And she sure does put things in perspective. Read on!

The power of the internet and of course, global shipping 🙂 has helped you immensely in operating from your studio where you create, and connecting with your customers worldwide. How has the concept of the business-on-the-internet helped you grow?

It is hard for me to imagine my business without the internet. My first sales were on the internet. (Ebay is where it all began. 🙂 And then I graduated to Etsy). I have tried consigning at local boutiques and the experiences have been alright I guess, but nothing has matched the convenience of being able to sell online. For me, the fact that my creations are safely at home with me makes the effort of packing and shipping worth it. Besides, I truly enjoy interacting with my customers! When I get feedback after a package has reached someone, it’s almost as good as seeing the expression on their faces when they opened that package. I often go through the feedback pages at my Etsy stores just to feel good. 🙂 My Facebook pages have been great for this as well! It’s so awesome to read people’s comments about my creations and it’s great to share my excitement with the ‘fans’ when a new tool arrives or when I’ve created something new. I’ve made so many new friends, all over the world, thanks to selling online! Kindered spirits whom I’ve never met in person but have been friends with for years! This means so much more to me than the selling itself!

artbysusmitha_elena

Without the internet would you have considered marketing your work?

If online selling didn’t exist, I suppose I would have tried marketing my creations offline, but I doubt if it would have been as much fun. So I feel truly blessed to have discovered “business-on-the-internet” as you put it. 🙂

artbysusmitha_azura

E-biz has spurred so many businesses online. How do you rate your competition? Or don’t you consider it such :)?

I know a wise business person would keep track of the competition but I’m not one of them. Hehe. Besides, I barely even consider my business a business. It is only technically that because I happen to sell what I create. But really, the business aspect is just a side effect of the creating. I’d be just as happy keeping everything I make to myself, but there’s only so much a person can do that. :oP

The handmade jewellery market is extremely saturated. There are way too many people making jewellery from home and attempting to sell their pieces onlie. A lot of them are highly talented too. But that doesn’t really bother me. I am of the attitude that if we make something with love and have the intention to sell it, it will sell. I’ve even written a long-winded blog post about this. hehe http://cutelittlepackage.blogspot.com/2009/07/make-it-with-love-and-it-will-sell.html

I find it unnecessary to compare/rate so called competitors. I’d rather just admire the beauty of what they make and even promote it with Etsy treasuries. I believe that each person has their own kind of talent and the lesser they compare themselves to others, the better they allow their own creativity to bloom.

artbysusmitha_blackroses

If you would like to, share some of the experiences with co-creators on etsy.com.

Etsy has been, and I believe it will continue to be, the best online marketplace I have ever sold at. In my view, no other site has matched it yet. And lately, they are focusing more on the socializing aspects of the site and that makes it easier than ever to follow, admire and communicate with fellow artists.

I am a member of many wonderful Etsy teams – Vegan Etsy, Etsy Veg, Etsy for Animals, Pagan of Etsy, Etsy Ugly Cute… (I’ve even started a Bengaluru Artists Team but it’s had zero activity so far. :oP). Among all the teams, I am most active on Vegan Etsy (http://veganetsy.blogpsot.com) and Etsy Veg (http://etsyveg.blogspot.com). These two teams promote kind, compassionate artists and creations. I have met some amazing people on all these groups and have become very close to some of them. Often, if I have to purchase something, I first look at my fellow teammates’ shops before looking elsewhere.

Outside of the teams, I have also made a few friends with people I have purchased from and vice versa. I have many, many favorite sellers on Etsy but off the top of my head, here are some who offer fantastic creations and with whom I have always had great experiences buying from: DaisyWares, NaturallyHip, aktie9, CindyPack, NGOriginals, SweetVConfections, UberDuperCreations. I would recommend any of these shops with complete confidence.

And here are some stores I have admired for the longest time and intend to purchase from in the near future: Ctbydonna, vegandish, silentlotus, thisisit, vegancraftastic, krugsecologic, darkfaerie, myzoetrope, Veganville, CricketsCreations. I had to make a great effort to limit this list to just ten. I could go on and on and on. LOL
I hope to continue to to find more talented artists and great people on Etsy and build long lasting relationships. 🙂

artbysusmitha_oceana

I hope you enjoyed reading! And keep those comments coming. It feels great to hear from you!

And of course, thanks Sus for taking time out to talk :)!

All pictures are copyright Susmitha. Please do not copy without permission.

The very beautiful art by Susmitha – I


I first came across Susmitha’s creations via a “mutual friend” on Facebook. (Why do I have a strong belief that a lot friend stories are going to be starting with this line in this decade 🙂 ?) What struck me the most about Susmitha’s creations were that they were simple, beautiful, earthy, and in some way reflected exactly what I wanted to see in jewelry.  Since then, of course, it’s been a non-stop admiration spin!

Susmitha is a creator, a designer, a vegan (and a great vegan cook!), practices reiki, and as much a warm, earthy, fun and great person as is her jewelry. She hammers, twists, stamps and hand crafts all her creations herself. So without much more rambling from me, heeeeeeeeeeeere she is! Loved the insight I got into her as a person and her creations in her own words…

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hmm… where do I begin? =oP I’m completely vegan, partly geeky, slightly goofy, mostly lazy, wholeheartedly creative and pretty spiritual (at least, I’d like to think I am). I spread good cheer wherever I go (oh wait, that might be Santa). I’m really lazy. I thoroughly enjoy experimenting with vegan cooking and baking (experiment being the key word here). I see humor in almost anything and laugh very easily and a tad too loudly too, if I go by certain…err… embarrassing experiences (but enough said about that). I’m a lazy bum. I love my mommy (my daddy, my baby sis and my hubby too, but most of all my mommy). I’m a night owl. Oh, and did I already mention that I’m lazy? And apparently, I abuse parentheses (exclamation points and smileys too).

artbysusmitha_cynthia_earrings

Do you have an artistic education?  How did making jewelry develop as a passion for you?

I was one of those kids at school who never finished art class projects. My mom was always the one stuck completing them for me. So, 15 years ago, if someone had said I’d one day be an artist of sorts, I’d have laughed right at their face!

I did always love playing with clay though. There’s always been something very calming and joyful about that squishy, smooshy feeling of clay between my palms and fingers. When I was a wee girl, I regularly asked mom for chapathi dough to make little things with.

After college, I was home for a while. You know, the cross-roads of your early twenties where you’re not quite sure what do do with your life (no, I’m not talking to you CA/MBA/Doctor/Architect… life-all-planned-out people! Hrrumph!) Anyways, during that time, I came across my little cousin brother’s Playdoh kit and started making a small, highly detailed village for him. That was the precise point when my love for clay got reignited. I started trying out various media (terracotta, ceramic clay, cement, papier maché…) I made miniature things first and then had the idea of adding wire to turn them into earrings and pendants.

Then I got married and moved to NY for a while and that’s where I discovered Polymer Clay! Oh the joy!!! It was the most amazing, versatile medium I had ever come across. I started reading up online, buying books on polymer clay and picking up new techniques. Then I began to include beads and wire and make more and more complicated jewellery. I spent all my time creating during those years. And at some point, unnoticed by me, what started as a hobby had turned into a raging passion and I was sucked in forever! 🙂

People who see my work now are surprised when I tell them that I’m self-taught (ie: I have never attended a course or a formal class where I studies about what I create now). But really, it isn’t such a big deal. There is so much easily accessible information out there. With a bit of reading and research, it’s easy to learn new techniques. As for the designing and creating, I believe that is not something which can be taught. Each person has an artistic side to them. It’s just a matter of the right outlet coming their way and then magic just happens all on its own. :).

Can you share the philosophy behind your art? You mention that you instill your creations with positive energy. Tell us more…

Whatever I create, I want it to make the person who finally receives it, truly happy. Not just in an aesthetically appealing way, but also in the vibrations the creation carries. To begin with, all the materials I use are completely vegan. If there’s something which comes from the abuse/exploitation of an innocent being, I will not touch it with a 10 foot pole. There are always plenty of kinder alternatives to pick from and I choose those. This decision, in itself, keeps a lot of unwanted energies at bay.

In addition, I cleanse all the gemstones that I use and lovingly infuse all my creations with Reiki to enhance the positive properties.

And most importantly, I only make things which I personally desire. Every creation of mine, I want to keep for myself! LOL Each time I create something, I spend some time just staring at it and admiring it. I can’s help myself! Especially my mini monsters and animals! Those cuties always make me smile when I pass by the display. 🙂

So, I know for a fact that I’m offering only my best work to others. And I would also like to believe that every time I pack up my art and send it off, I’m sending it to a loving new home where it will be loved and cherished for many, many, many generations to come.

Machine-made is out and hand-crafted, exclusive is in – in a large part of the world of fashion and accessorizing. And stores like yours offer just that. How has this phenomenon changed the market?

In India, even just two generations ago, using handmade goods on a daily basis was a way of life. Then commercialization took over. Big brands and mass produced goods became popular. Everyone wanted what everyone else had and hand making things was considered unfashionable. However, this overlapped with a shift in attitude in the West in the opposite direction. People there began to desire the handmade and saw value in the uniqueness and exclusivity of hand crafted creations. And as the cycle goes, this started to rub off on India once more. Especially in the past couple of years, I’ve seen a steadily growing demand for handcrafted creations in India. Also a wider interest within people to hand make things themselves. Right now, even though the customer base for these kinds of creations is sizable, I would say it’s still a niche market. It’s not everyone who can appreciate the charm and value of handmade creations. The urban, globally sensible people are the ones who are the connoisseurs of things which have been made by a single individual with love and attention to detail.

Personally, I am a snob when it comes to selling my art. God help those who refer to my jewellery as ‘artificial’. I give them a look of such loathing that all they can do is go very still and carefully step backwards and away. =oP

I want my ‘babies’ to go only to those homes where they will be appreciated. It’s okay if the market is small, niches are a good thing. As long as those who wear my jewellery and adopts my critters, truly value the time, effort and love which went into making them, it’s all good. 🙂

Visit Susmitha’s ETSY store here OR Artfire store here to see more of her gorgeous creations.

There’s more from Sus! So watch this space for part II.

All photos courtesy Susmitha. Please do not copy without permission.

Budding talent!


I thought I’ll kick in this new year with a fresh talent. A budding one, because this artist is only 13. Which brings me to the title of this post –  it should actually be titled Talent AlREADY! But I like to think that this boy has so much more ahead of him and the coming years will only take him to a more creative place.

He is Angad Gummaraju, my nephew, and he never ceases to amaze with his art. A complete whiz at drawing ever since he could hold a pencil straight, he is also a whiz at origami, pottery and anything else you can think of that’s creative! He also loves to cook and bake, true to my heart :)!

It’s not just his art that impresses, what really gets you is how quickly he can absorb an art form and then improvise with it. Take this for example. There is one wall in my home which has warli art on it. Angad studies it for a while and then asks for pencil and paper. An hour later he shows me this.

angad warli1Warli on paper with black gel pen

And then this. This was just before last year’s Mother’s Day :).

angad_mothers day

Happy Mother’s Day! Warli improvised, pencil, on A4 paper

Here’s some of his origami.

angad origamiSwan

icosahedron

Icosahedron, he tells me…

He carries his art into sketching tattoos too :).

pen tattoo

Pen on hand

angad sketchGel pen on paper

That leaf shaped diya I’d found during Diwali 2010? I’d placed it as is with a tea light inside. Last weekend when Angad visited he asked me if I could paint it. And a half hour later I had this lovely one in front of me! No planning the design, no drawing outlines – just paint and a brush and the zing! I don’t need no store shopping for me art!

angad_diya2The diya -top view

angad_diya1Diya, back view

Motifs like the one below are of interest to him now. As he is getting into his teens, it’s all about the music and the spirit of rock!

Pen and pencil, on paper

There’s so much more that this young dude has done that I’d love to show you. Perhaps more soon :). I end this post with a big cheer to all those young and talented kids out there who are going to make us a proud tomorrow!  Come cheer with me!

And HERE IS ANGAD’S BLOG!

Linking up to Patty’s weekend wrap up!