Friday, March 20, 2009

Candle therapy

Amongst many other fetishes, I love collecting candles. It's weird cos I never like to burn them, but stack them safely inside my cupboard, take them out once a couple of months, admire and put them back inside. That's theraputic enough!

So the other day, I got home, but there was no electricity. It was really quiet, and the weather perfectly pleasant. A light drizzle, the scent of wet earth still lingering. I was tempted to light a candle. Not the regular, but one of my precious scented ones. So i dug out an old African Swazi handmade candle..something I had got more than seven years back from a friend. Hunting around for a matchbox I light it with a bit of hesitation, watching it burn.. slow faint and then brighter, disclosing an array of eerie silhouettes. It was a moment that seemed to last for hours, as my eyes were fixated on the soft subtle flickering of the flame, in conjunction with the scent of sweetly released fragrance.

Handmade swazi candle
Just what is aromatherapy?
True aromatherapy candles contain natural plant essences and have very few chemicals. The wax is also natural and burns in a way that creates stronger, more healing aromatic releases. Whats interesting to know is that different kinds of candles have different properties for healing.

Beeswax - the best kind of beeswax candles are pure with natural fragrances and free of toxins. Beeswax is especially calming because they have been proven to release negative ions, which cleanse the air. This is very conducive to creating a mellow mood and in time, detoxifying the body.
Paraffin candles - Paraffin candles have been around for centuries and are slow burning and long lasting.
The drawback is that they are petroleum based. Because of this, there are split factions of aromatherapists who tout both benefits and drawbacks of this candle’s use.
Soy candles - these candles are becoming more and more popular with individuals because they are clean burning and aromatic. They are also all natural, biodegradable and non-toxic. Even with all of these attributes, soy candles can be wonderfully cost effective as well, making them an all around delight for connoisseurs of aromatherapy.
Feng Shui Candles - feng Shui, which literally translates into “wind-water” is the ancient oriental practice of achieving balance to facilitate positive health and beauty. It is also based on the concept of “Chi” or life energy. Feng Shui candles come in several different colors that represent elements, for instance, a red candle would symbolize fire. I fished out these scented beauties for a few hundred bucks from a street in Pondicherry a few months back.

Eye candy therapy!
Ok..this is my own addition. Mint Chocolate or Creme Brule? How can you not fall in love with something so yummy, so pretty. Check out these beautiful teacup candles at Etsy, an online marketplace for buying and selling all things handmade.

These again, are inspiring me to make some of my own. "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle."

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I turn around to see him working on his new monster. Round -green -one -eyed, purple with yellow spokes, or a little black time bomb. Hobby? Passion? or obsession? It's definitely working for super talented Carl Savio, who has taken play- doh clay to a whole new level. His little clay heads have become the hot topic of discussion around us.

So how did it all start ? "Boredom. Timepass in office between briefs...."
Atleast one of us have put all that disposable time at work to good use! Oh and naming these dolls can be as fun as making them. Don't miss Carl's 'Mylapore maami' or 'Adam bomb' and 'WTF'

"Mylapore Maami""Adam Bomb""WTF?!"

And the best part is, he makes it look so simple. You need is a ping pong ball, some tub of clay and your quirky head. Inspiration and ideas are all dyou...your everyday dabbawala to your pet fishes. So start colortripping on a lazy Sunday, or on a long bus journey back home, or under your table at one of those boring endless board meetings. And you might just surprise yourself with all the new heads you create!

There's more colortrippin' on Carl's website

Friday, March 6, 2009


There is nothing called waste in Nature,
Everything has its creative role.
Everything can be living & beautiful,
As Tsunamika is...

I stumbled upon this page few days back and it caught my interest. Tsunamika is a Tsunami related project of Auroville, Pondicherry. This project is conceived and executed by Upasana design studio of Auroville in the seaside villages of Auroville's bioregion. Nearly 480 fisherwomen from 6 villages are trained and from them around 180 ladies are now creating these little dolls called Tsunamika.
She has been hand-made from fabrics left over from other creative works in Upasana. The project team, who trained the ladies, now supplies them with raw materials to continue producing the dolls. All dolls produced are bought from them in bulk and are worldwide by Upasana.

These dolls comes to you unconditionally. There is no price tag as they are gifts for you and the ones you love. I think this is a brilliant initiative..spreading the message of love, hope and empowerment. A bright blue paper clip a lemon yellow pencil cap.. what joy they bring!

Meticulously crafted from bits and pieces of waste cloth by women whose lives has changed forever after the tsunami. They have a very sweet range of products from wall hangings to greeting cards to scribble on stickers and board games. To know more on how to get your own tsunamika doll, here are the links:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pet project

I like collecting bottles. I have a few green wine bottles, which have now become home to long slender money plants with pretty pale green leaves. A starbucks frappuccino one on my desk, which reminds me of those old little milk bottles we used to get many years ago. I have always wanted to paint bottles. So i finally looked it up, to get inspired, to get ideas, and probably book a Sunday for this. ( because my otherwise busy sundays are spent watching Friends Seinfeld re-runs)
Well, what do you know...with a little paint, a few magical brushes, and a hint of imagination... here's what you can get.

This one's just black permanent marker on a plastic pet bottle painted white. So stark, so graphic, so simple. In fact it would a lot easier if you made your design in a sheet of bond paper or butter sheet and traced it onto the circumference of the bottle before inking.
Here's a happy blue and red couple I fished out from Flickr. You can use almost any kind of glass paint for your bottle depending on the kind of texture you seek. Pebeo is a very popular brand and can be found in most craft and art stores. Also always use gloss exterior varnish to protect the paint.

Hopefully after getting all excited and inspired, I will pick up that bottle of wine from my window and paint myself a bright blue sky and a bright yellow sunflower, and a sweet little message to myself in it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Art goes underground

A week in London spent tube- station- hopping. It's probably the best and cheapest way to get around the city, and hey- it's fun! I pick up my regular starbucks macchiato and make my way though the public subway up Charing Cross to Trafalgar square in search of a new adventures above. The long and winding passage tells me a story, a story of palaces and knights and bygone English summers... accompanied by echoing sounds of a distant spanish guitar atthe end, where another vagabond has pitched his tent for the day collecting pennies in his hat. Pennies for a tune, pennies for a blessing.

London is beautiful. There isn’t a direction you can turn without your glance being stolen by a piece of art. Art follows you all the way, even more than a hundred feet below the ground. For years now, the London Underground have been running their underground art program 'Platform For Art' in order to promote London's eclectic art scene and to entertain and enlighten commuters on the cities bustling underground.
Appreciation of subway art soon turned to an obsession, hopping off at every station, curious, excited to see what surprise lay ahead, on the walls, the alleys, the rows of posters by the escalators…. they never seemed to end.
In the 1920's the Underground was regularly producing over forty posters a year. These were mainly Art deco with men wearing bowler hats. By the mid eighties "Art on the Underground" was revived, if only as a way of filling up the blank unsold advertising space on the tube. Each year about six posters were commissioned with print runs of 6,000 each. It’s interesting to see art evolve over the decades and the tube stations are probably the best silent witness to this change.
m-i-n-d t-h-e g-a-p . Mind the gap, the gap between our blur express espressos lives and a world that stands still, walls that tell a different tale.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Of broken white cups and vintage art

It only seems proper to begin my new blog on design with what inspires me There has been much noise off late about the Indian Coffee house on MG road shutting down. Suddenly it seems to have become everybody's 'all time favourite joint since forever'. Sadly it was never so, all these years, infact the last I visited two years ago, it was practically empty. I remember even writing about it....

"My heart wandered to the most unassuming places in the city, old gems- threatended to be torn down anyday. There is a joy in discovering such spots, the people...their lives, the walls, the chairs, the cups chipped at the edges.. which have seen so much over the years. Waiting for my coffee, I look around, the mirky walls sport vintage posters of old coffee advertisements.

Sipping the brew, watching people pace up and down and twice over again on the pavement, smiles and giggles and shopping bags and children with balloons and newspaper cones of roadside bhelpuri, and you order another cup of coffee, cos one is never enough. The menu isnt lavish; masala dosa, buttered toasts, omelettes, or pakodas and cutlets...but just so prefect, just as mom would make it.

Upstairs, its quieter. It's almost empty. A couple in one corner. An old gentleman reading the newspaper at another end sticks his head out to catch a glimpse of the intruders. We sit by the window on the old sofa torn at the edges, the foam popping out... it's oddly relaxing. We absorb the silence, for a few moments. It's calming. Probably a tad too perfect... makes me a little sqeamish. It was time to leave, get back to our world, the familiarity, the comforts of noise, the crowd, the pressure and deadlines, out of this tiny capsule which had taken us back in time."

I love the ads of the early sixties and seventies... the illustrations, the colors, the for little things like radiosets, lightbulbs, dishwashers, peanut butter and ofcourse the classic Campbell's soup. You have such vintage prints plastered all over restaurants like TGIF, but somehow, here in Coffee House- they 'belonged'. Here's a look at a couple of them..

"a fine type, a fine coffee, both are INDIAN"

"The reason for my charming smile..INDIAN COFFEE"