Monday, October 27, 2014

Handmade Gifts: Coasters

You give but little of yourself when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give
                                                  ---Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

                 I cannot always express my emotions with handmade gifts. But sometimes I make a little extra special effort and a handmade gift to show how much I care. It is like a special gesture for your dear ones. The love and affection for the person is shown through the efforts taken to make the gift. The entire time I was making this gift, I was thinking of my friend and of what she means to me, I thought of what she might like and how she might use it, I thought of times spent together, and of times we will spend in the years ahead. As the years go by, I value how friends have becomes family especially as we stay away from our parents, siblings, and other family.

                 I like to give gifts that along with keeping in mind the receiver’s likes, also expresses me….kindof like a bit of me in the gift. A bit that represents my tastes, my skills, my interests, and my life.

                The festival and holiday season has begun rolling and we friends celebrate Diwali with a Diwali party, and I made this coaster set to give as a hostess gift to my friend.


            There are thousands of DIY instructions on the internet on how to make coasters, So I thought I would throw my bit in too  J. All you have to do is get some plain white tiles, cut some scrapbook paper to fit the tile and mod podge the whole thing a few times…and you are done! Did I make it just sound too easy?..…trust me it is actually that easy. 

Get a few inexpensive white tiles from the home store.

Cut some scrapbook paper to fit the top of the tile. My only tip for this would be to trace the outline of the tile on the paper and cut a little inside the lines. You want the paper to be a little bit smaller than the surface of the tile. I learnt the hard way that trying to fold the paper over the edges of the tile makes for a mess and not a very neat finish.


Then all you do is brush on several coats of mod podge over the tile and paper letting dry between coats.


It looks kindof milky when wet but don't worry it will dry clear.

Cut some cork roll to fit the bottom of the tile and glue that on. 

And you are done! An easy project that took only an hour.

The box was a lucky fit, so I mod podged that too. But the coasters gift-wrapped with some nice ribbon would be pretty too.

               It is not about how simple or elaborate your gift is that matters most, a heartfelt gift given always touches the heart. All through this holiday season, I plan to post little projects that can be made easily and given as gifts. I hope as you read these, it inspires you to give it a try even if you think you don’t have a single crafty bone in you. And that as you look at these blog posts you can think of someone it would be perfect for.
Happy Gifting!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Walking on Sunshine


              My friends and I are busy planning a tropical vacation for our families to take early next year. Thinking back on memories of my vacation to Puerto Rico and Mexico had me running to the albums to reminisce. Ah!....the sharp blues, the almost white sand beaches, the brightness as reflected by the water. Everything just seemed bluer, whiter, sharper, more color vivid.

             Inspired by that emotion, I painted this cabinet in shades of blue ‘Caribbean splash’ and ‘Bermuda’. And to denote the sand I used a textured paint in sand color called ‘Caribbean walk’ sprinkled in with some sparkles. How can you go wrong with color choices inspired from nature, right? Can you imagine yourself in a small thatched bungalow by the beach? Large doors and windows letting in the warm tropical breeze. White sheer curtains blowing in the breeze, lounging on the deck looking out to the ocean with a drink in hand that you just made at the bar that is housed in this beautiful blue cabinet. Well! That’s the picture I had in my head while making thisJ. Drawing inspiration from those vacations and the easy relaxed peaceful feeling that being in nature brings, I went with colors of the water and sand. The two shades of blue on the cabinet soothe and engage the viewer catching the subtle variations in shades of the water. The sand color with sparkles highlights and brightens the piece. All together I hope this piece reminds you of the exotic flowers and birds of the tropics, the lush saturated colors, and the surreal quality of the calm ocean.

             I like to think that my work is about relationships; the relationships of the colors, the art work, and the compositional details to one another; of the ideas and feelings that evoked it and what that in turn evokes; of me to the piece; and of you, the viewer’s reaction to all of it.

             My elderly neighbor gave me this bookshelf when she moved out. It had been hand built by someone in her husband’s family decades ago. In her memory and for sentimental reasons, I was reluctant to dispose this off. So it sat in my garage for almost 3 years. 

Here it is before:

             Finally I decided to change this into a cabinet of sorts with doors intending to use it as a bookcase. I had originally intended to put regular paneled doors and paint on it. But an inspired moment extended this into a learning project; Shaped Cutouts! I had been using a saw for regular cutting purposes only and with this project I decided to try cutting out shapes. So here’s a bird on a branch and an exotic hibiscus flower that I cut out using a saw, adding to the tropical look of the cabinet. I must say I am pretty proud of my first attempt. Can’t wait to try out other cut out projects. Though showcased as a bar, it is not very deep and would serve very well as a bookcase too.

I hope this piece encourages you to come take a closer look.

Monday, October 6, 2014


Udaan: To take flight, soar, to take off

Tundi-e- Baad-E-Mukhalif se na ghabra, ae Uqaab;
Yeh to chalti hai tujhe uncha udane ke liye.

                                                               ----Dr. Allama Iqbal

Translation: “You don’t get frightened of these furious, violent winds, Oh Eagle!  These blow only to make you fly higher.”

As Featured in the October issue of the Curated Magazine

DIY Table Makeover

Medium grit 80-120 grit sandpaper or sanding block
Latex paint color of choice, stain in color of choice
2” angled brush, stencil brushes, thin paint brushes, foam brushes if necessary
Stencil of choice
Antiquing medium
Acrylic paint in warm white and a dark brown color
Water based polyurethane
Rag cloths and paper towels
Painter’s tape
Temporary spray adhesive

How to:

1. Sand the furniture piece using a medium grit sandpaper following the direction of the grain of wood. Smooth out the surface and remove the varnish as completely as possible. Repair any scratches, damages, dents, and holes by sanding and using wood fillers as needed.
Tip: If the furniture piece is in fairly good condition and you intend to paint the piece, you can skip the sanding step. Just give the piece a light rub with a medium grit sand paper and clean the surface with a rag cloth. Then use a paint primer before painting with the latex paint in your choice of color.


2. I chose to paint the legs of this piece and stain the top. Using a 2” angled brush, paint the legs evenly following a single direction. It will take 2-3 coats to achieve a smooth even coverage of paint. Let dry completely between coats.

3. Before the staining step, tape off any painted surface to be protected using painter’s tape. Brush on the stain in the direction of the grain of the wood. Let dry completely.
Tip: The stain penetrates deeper and achieves a deep richer color depending on how long it sits on the piece. If you want a lighter color wipe off the excess stain with a soft rag cloth after a few minutes. Reapply if needed till color of choice is achieved.

4. Find the center of your piece or the place you want the stencil to be in. Lightly spray temporary adhesive on the back side of the stencil and position in place pressing down firmly. Dip the stencil brush in the warm white color acrylic paint and dab off the excess on a paper towel. Using a controlled up and down motion apply paint on the stencil. Repeat a second time if you want more coverage.
Tip: It is very important that the stencil brush be almost dry of paint. You do not want a brush loaded with paint as the paint will spread under the stencil. Do not rush this step and the results will be clear and neat.

5. For the antiquing process; mix equal parts acrylic antiquing medium with the dark brown color. Using a thin paint brush and apply this paste in the seams, grooves, joints, and any place that you want to draw attention to. Use a rag cloth to wipe away excess immediately. Work in small areas at a time.
Tip: If you like a very light antique look, use a wet rag cloth to wipe off as you apply. If you like a more aged look, use a dry cloth to wipe up after application. 

6. Using an angled brush apply two coats of a clear polyurethane to seal and protect all the work.