Sep 20, 2013

After the first edition of Urban Hands, it was natural that it would have its subsequent editions too, but who would have known that it would happen so soon. By now, if you have been following UH II on the events page, you would already be having a prelude on what to expect on the D-Day.

For those that are landing here for the first time, Urban Hands is a ChennaiCrafters initiative and you can read more about it here.

Things have been progressing really well with almost all the stalls having been pre-booked. Poster design is progressing at a brisk pace. The organizers (Shilpa and Vineetha) have been running around to get the right folks to display their work at the event. Work is underway to get some media attention and there is so much excitement in the air with less than a day to go for UH II.

Do check out the events page to know more about what kind of products to expect. Or even better, like us on Urban Hands Facebook page to be updated of current and future editions too. And remember to step out and come to Bamboola for a pleasant shopping experience on the 21st and 22ndth of September. And to make it more interesting, the organizers are promising to have live music on. Exciting, right ? Here’s more details on Urban Hands Edition II.

Date : 21st and 22nd September 2013
Time : 10.00 AM to 07:00 PM
Venue : The Forum Vijaya Mall, Vadapalani

The Chennai Crafters group has been made into a secret group due to new Facebook changes.

To join the group, all you have to do is send us a mail at and mention your Facebook e-mail address. We'll send you an invite to the group.

Note : Your Facebook E-mail address is the address that you use to log in to your personal Facebook account.

Join us today and
  • Participate in craft related conversations and discussions
  • Get to know your fellow crafters
  • Showcase your work in the forum
  • Get updated about the craft meets that we organize
  • Get updated about Urban Hands - Our Arts and Crafts exhibition
  • Be a part of this wonderful and talented community of crafters

Jul 14, 2013

When one of the admins received an invitation from Lakshmi Venkatraman to participate in this truly noble cause of gifting a group of school kids to experience the joy of crafting, the invitation was promptly passed on to the rest of the crafting community in Chennai. And guess what ! A team was quickly formed to storm the Government School in Saidapet, Chennai on the 12th of July to enthrall the little kids with multiple fun sessions of crafting.

Design for change, as the goodwill project is called, is aimed at teaching the kids to make little art and craft items which can thereon be auctioned and returns from it will be used for providing the kids with clean water. A very virtuous gesture right ? ChennaiCrafters had the opportunity to make their teeny tiny contribution to this initiative few days ago.

There were about 200 students in the age group of 10-12 and each crafter had to indulge the kids in a specific craft / art work. All the crafters had to bring and supply their own materials for each of the session.  Sreeja, who taught the kids to make painted diyas took half a day off from her corporate job to spend time with the kids. Archana had the pleasure of taking two complete sessions for the kids despite knowing about the event just a day or two before. And every other crafter made her presence felt taking time off her precious schedule to contribute in her own small way.

Think it was an enriching experience for the kids ? Before you do that, hear what some of the crafters had to say about their experience :
  • Reshmi Gopinath : “we had a fun packed session today ...thanks Lakshmi Venkatraman the satisfaction we got is boundless................”
  • Ranjani Ashok : “Hi. Had so much fun the kids were too good and they were asking" can I make One more bracelet miss......". Thanks for giving me a wonderful opportunity.”
  • Sreeja Ravindran : “have to admit it was a 'humbling' experience. Saw some real talents there. Thankyou lakshmi and shilpa for giving me this awesome day. Will be available for more such events..”
  • Tasneem  Ilyas : “They were so excited and did it very well.. Had an awesome day.. Thank you Shilpa Mitha and Lakshmi Venkatraman”
  • Kamla Ravikumar : “Thank you Shilpa Mitha and Lakshmi Venkatraman...for giving me the opportunity to work with such wonderful kids.They were full of beans and we enjoyed painting pots .They speak such good English.I was shocked when one of the kids asked me if he could go to the restroom”
  • Vineetha Naval : “Awesome experience ! Wud love to do more of these Lakshmi Venkatraman  the joy of seeing them excited can't be expressed actually.”
  • Shri Kris : “Was nice to see such enthusiastic kids”
  • Sowmya Lakshmi, Tina Katwal : “It was fun!!! Kids were asking miss will u come again”
  • Shilpa Mitha : “A big big thank you to all you wonderful people who made it today!! :) It was 2 hrs of our time but many many days of happiness for those little ones. I'm glad we could pull this off. ”
  • Priyanka, Aksanksha, Archanaraje Bhonsle were the other wonderful crafters who were part of this event.
Thanks to Lakshmi Venkatraman for giving the crafters this amazing, one of a kind opportunity. We look forward to participating in more such events and add (in a teeny tiny way) to the bigger cause of what Lakshmi and her likes are working towards.

Jul 8, 2013

This is a guest post by Dr.Mani. Do read on as he shares his experience on soap carving.

For years, I never could imagine myself as a crafter, writer or artist.


Because I believed that to be good at it, one needed to have "tools of the trade".  Kits.  Guides.  Paraphernalia.  The works.

Only many years later, on a whim, I decided to try out soap carving - and discovered how wrong I was.  You don't need all the accessories - though they may make things easier.  What you DO need is interest/passion, and the drive to make do with what you have.

So, if soap carving is your thing, here's a simple 'how to' tutorial.

1. Choose Your Project

Soap carving comes with a built in constraint - the size of your bar of soap.

Deciding what to carve comes with the caveat that it must fit your 'canvas'.  Choosing the right project is often tricky.  Seeing what others have done can help spark some ideas. 

I remembered a college friend of mine who carved a hand trying to grasp something.  So I first decided to try carving a hand, too.

2. Find The Right Bar of Soap

Soap varies in color, texture and smell.  If you're like me, you'll hate working for an hour or longer on heavily scented soaps! 

And some colors will match your project better.  Pink Lux makes for prettier roses.  Red Lifebuoy is great to carve a heart.  And translucent Pears is wonderful for idols of a favorite God or Goddess.

3. Assemble Your (Simple) Toolkit

That shouldn't be scary or daunting.  I started with a simple kitchen knife and a screwdriver (with one extra attachment, a pointed needle-like end). 

The knife I used for grossly shaping the soap cake.  The screwdriver is employed in gouging out areas that must be chipped off.  The pointy-end attachment is for fine work.

A real soap carving artist, fellow Chennai Crafter Chitra Mandanna (you ought to look at her portfolio of soap carvings, it's awesome! ) uses a surgical scalpel for soap carving.  You can buy one from any surgical store, and blades aren't expensive at all.

4. Get Started

It's often tempting to hold back, hesitate and wait until you're sure things will work.  Art or craft rarely works that way. 

You start.  Try something.  End up unhappy with the result.  (See this picture of my first few ventures and you'll agree!)

Get ideas to improve it.  Repeat the process.  Become better.

And after a few attempts, you just might end up with something magical, cool and (dare I say it?) even popular, appealing and worth selling.

Regardless of reaching that point, the act of putting your vision and dream into more tangible form is fulfilling and soul-warming... so give soap carving a try.  You can get started with what's in your home right now!

This is a guest post by Dr.Mani, a pediatric heat surgeon, writer and a hobbyist crafter. He blogs at . You can reach him at and on his Facebook Page.

Jun 1, 2013

Starting with this month, we're going to have a new feature in the blog - The featured artist of the month!

We wanted to get going with the action here and we thought the best way to do that is to catch up with an extremely talented crafter from amongst us. A multifaceted artist who works with any medium that catches her fancy, Chitra Mandanna has had many art exhibitions with media ranging from water colors and acrylics to pastels, oil, charcol, and stone sculptures. The pictures below are a true testament to how strong a promoter she is of up-cycling and establishes her knack for converting unusual objects into works of art. Here's a little chat with our very own ChennaiCrafter. All the photos below are subject to copyright and belong to its rightful owner (Chitra). Please do no use the photos without the written consent of the owner.

 1. Brief intro to who you are / what you do 
I am from Coorg and now settled in Chennai. Hailing from a family of artists I was exposed to art at a very young age. My father was a very good artist but however did not take it as a profession. My mother is also very artistically inclined and used to be very good at fabric painting, embroidery, tailoring etc. My brother is also a qualified artist and now runs his own gaming and design company.

I experiment and work with any medium that catches my fancy. I have been trained under several eminent artists and have had many exhibitions of my art works. My works include charcoal sketches, pastel paintings, knife paintings, water colours, oil paintings, folk paintings, stone sculptures, portraits, soap and vegetable carvings and upcycled art to name a few.

2. What got you started? Can you remember how old you were when you discovered art?
I remember painting from the age of 3. I have been largely inspired by my mother who, like I told you earlier is a very creative person. At the age of 6, I started using her sewing machine to sew dresses for my dolls. Later at the age of about 10 my brother introduced me to DIY craft books and from then on I took a keen interest in painting and handicrafts.

3. Is there any one particular artist who inspires/influences you the most?
I cannot name any particular artist who has inspired me.
4. What made you choose such a creative method of recycling?
I have been upcycling most of the things from a very young age along with my mother. Through my parents, we were well informed about the environment and conservation topics way back in the 80s when such things were not in the mainstream like they are now. She used to convert old shoes and gumboots into planters, water bottles into painted flower vases and broken pens into pencil holders.

When I was around 10, I started making toy trucks and cars out of small cardboard cartons which were very popular among kids in the neighbourhood. Now my main concern is the environment and I am trying to spread awareness about recycling and upcycling through my works. The moment I see any of the so called 'junk' many ideas pop in my head. Most junk in our house is recycled or upcycled.

5. What is it that keeps you motivated?
If you are living in art, everything is motivation. You tend to see beauty in everything. My mind is always saying “what next what next”? It also gives me a lot of satisfaction to see that I am inspiring many people especially children to rethink waste.
6. What’s your favorite piece of work that you have created? 
All my works are unique and have individual souls in them. I cannot point my finger at any one, but of the recent works some of my favourites are the planters made out of tyres and the large “3D collage” owl made out of old magazines and newspapers.

7. What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on streamlining my concept studio where I recreate used stuff into customized products for customers. For example customers can get their favourite T-shirts, jeans, shirts etc converted into personalised dresses, bags, scarves, skirts, aprons, cushion covers, art works etc. They can even get their old furniture turned into refurbished radical forms or art work. I provide a creative solution to recreate all their favourite things. The studio also offers customized design solutions for homes, offices and gardens. I am often approached to design specific art objects.

A recent example is for Savera’s restobar Bay 146. I wanted to make something unique and thus made assorted cocktails with wax. These look great when backlit. Then there was an invite to create my signature style work for an Earth day road show. I created three works of art using egg cartons for one of them and old audio tapes, an old atlas and card board for the other. The third work is the favourite I mentioned earlier.  You can see these and most of my customized works on my Facebook page.

  8. Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others?
People who have a flair for art and creativity can definitely excel if enough hard work is put into practice. Creativity is not a one off event but a way of life. Never give up and do not let others deter your creative pursuits.
Hope you liked reading and knowing about this gifted crafter. We will be featuring a lot more artists from Chennai and around every month and also be posting a lot of DIYs, tutorials, crafting trips and trivia and a lot more! Do subscribe and keep visiting us often!

May 7, 2013

The ChennaiCrafters group has been quite an active and interactive group. It has been so much fun to exchange ideas and share each others works on the group page. This blog is an initiative to take the ChennaiCrafters from out of the closed group and create a reach that can well go beyond Facebook. The more the merrier and the objective of this blog is to increase the visibility of the group. We will also work together to share DIY tips, how tos, showcase unique crafts that we all indulge in. The blog will be moderated and will be controlled by the admins. The following are the key objectives of this blog :

  • Promote craft (Obviously)
  • Crafter profiles
  • Events and Meet up 
  • Authored post (By invited crafters)
Most importantly, this will be a site, much like the Facebook group, that will be devoid of any undue promotions. This is a platform to popularize craft in Chennai and is certainly not for crafters to advertise their business. This is only a framework and we certainly would love to invite ideas from everyone of you to make this a much more useful avenue for all of us.

~ Shilpa and Vineetha

Apr 22, 2013

A 6 month old group, 3 meet ups! Had to think of something bigger so we don't just stop there. In the third meet up, we all decided about having our very first handmade event in Chennai. A few days later, we wanted to make sure it didn't stop with that.

We then asked every member to mail us their works and handpicked a few. No repetitive stalls. We ended up with 17 craft stalls, one food stall, one candy stall and one stall aimed at promoting recycling! 

The venue by itself added a rustic handmade feel to the whole event and we couldn't have asked for anything better! A write up in almost all the leading newspapers, and a foot fall of about 700 people! 

Sharing a few pics that were clicked at the event by Mystic Lights !

Here is a list of the participants for the Urban Hands event, in no particular order :

Madras Motif - Fabric totes, card holders
Sunny - Prints, illustration
AMA - Hair accessories for kids
The White Box - Home decor and gifting ideas
SueƱo Souvenir  - Fridge magnets and customized figurines
Touch of glass - Original stained glass suncatchers, lamps
Crochet corner - Tutus, crocheted feet accessories and kids botties
Kavitha Reddy - Quilled wall panels, clocks
The Verve Trinkets - Hand woven jewelry
Handmade cards - Cards and photo albums
Fancy Crochet - Bags, mobile pouch
Paper Kraft - Quilled cards
Vidyarty creations - Glass engraving, pyrography 
Quilts of love - Quilts
Maya - Craving to Create - Indian folk art coasters, wall hangings
Latha Sundar Rajan - Paintings and murals
Varnaalaya - Paintings

Non-crafter category :