<I wrote this in 2011 and never bothered publishing it. CraftCanvas has come a long way and I was just happy to look back>

It is my birthday week and the time of the year when I usually want to take stock of life. The rest of the year just goes by with the million things that I do and plan to do that the real things really get mixed up.The big things need to be planned and written down somewhere.

2010 was all about exploring life. I’ve always wanted to travel. But apart from places where work took me, it was just too difficult to get away anywhere. This year, I’ve traveled every month (even twice in some months) to places that are sometimes hard to find, even on a map!

 

Bangalore as a destination was all about friends. But this year, I visited an 100 year old workshop in Ulsoor and discovered the place where the demon gods are made.

Enjoyed some simple pleasures in life by watching a puppet show with handmade leather puppets.

Drove to no man’s land to hear the chisels at work.

Was enchanted by the massive forts in Rajasthan and the intricate weaves of Salawas’ dhurries.

Stepped into the breaktakingly beautiful Thanjuvur temple and stepped onto the simple beauty of handmade Athangudi tiles.

Witnessed devotion at its peak in the Rath yatra at Puri and marvelled at the wonder called Pattachitra.

Was humbled by the living conditions of one of the award winning artisans in our country. Dushasan Behera lives a difficult life in Dhenkanal, Orissa, yet manages to create stunning pieces of art.

Was inspired by a bunch of enterprising women who conquered the tsunami.

A year of exploration, one of learning, one that grounded me and the one that I would live many times over. But it is time to move on, to act on what is learnt, to create a platform to learn more and to prepare for the next year.

A big year is coming my way and I am already looking forward to it!

It’s been a while since I’ve been dabbling with my restoration projects. As always, I’ve been scrounging the internet for details, instructions and ideas. The carpenter, the painter and everyone else who works with me are hounded with questions on the how, why and what-ifs. My first project the big comfortable swing  turned out so well that it is a such a stunner.It is only piece of furniture (rest are all cushions) in our ‘perennially work in progress’ living room. So armed with new found knowledge, a patient antique dealer who lets me spend hours in his warehouse even if I end up spending paltry sums, I found myself a very interesting project.

I’ve always coveted the cradle converted into a coffee-table  from Karthik Vaidyanathan’s home. And since such readymade pieces are hard to come by and are also very very expensive, I knew I had to make one on my own. So as I rummaged through the antique warehouse, I found 2 interesting things. A broken cradle (only the 4 sides with all the railings rusted and in super bad condition) and a jaali, a lattice screen. Though the initial idea was to use the two separately, I decided to use them together.

The cradle was cleaned, rust scrubbed and removed and the cracks were filled. I got the jaali fitted on top, supported by planks on either sides. The whole process took so much time that I was highly inclined to abandon the project mid-way. Loads of research later, I came out with the final piece, all ready to be painted.

Going with the tile colors on the swing, I decided to use blue and green for the centrepiece. The result is such a fresh change from all the dark brown (walnut) furniture all over the place. I regret not having taken pictures of the original. The broken cradle strips and the jaali. Had I done that, the difference in the before and after pictures would have been unimaginably stark.

Now that’s a keeper, isn’t it ? A pat on the back for me and a lot more motivation to keep finding myself such challenges.

I have spent entire summers waiting for 4 pm, the time when I was allowed to go to the park. The only thing that fascinated me there was the swing. I remember swinging for hours on end and reaching home with a dizzy head. I’ve done this every evening, all through the summer holidays. When I asked my parents if I could have a swing at home, my mom told me that swings were supposed to be only in parks. And I believed her! :)

I carried this urge from my childhood and finally found my swing. Like most amazing things in life, I found it when I wasn’t looking for it. I had to purchase some antique furniture for a client and was walking around the antiques market in Ahmedabad. There I ended up rescuing a swing. I would call it rescue because this beautiful piece of furniture was in fact being used to stack clothes. It was termite ridden, the edges were broken off, the rods were rusted and broken and the mirror was in bad shape. It was covered with inches of dust that I almost missed this gem.

When I expressed interest in buying it, the guy jacked up the rates. He even claimed some royal associations! Finally I gave in, paid him and haggled with a tempo guy to get it home. Though my husband is used to these weird looking things coming home, this 5 ft long really dirty thing was a bit too much for him. I persuaded him to finish

I called in the neighbourhood carpenter the next day. He managed to ruin it in just 5 minutes! He didn’t know how to sand such an old piece. I managed to stop him before he caused any more damage.

While I was looking for another carpenter, the swing started accumulating things. It was used to store anything that didn’t have a place of its own. Though not clear in the picture, it has a stack of toothpicks and candles from the last party.

In the meanwhile, I got a couple of mirror cut to size, ordered some turquoise tiles with a hint of yellow to go with my walls and I lowered my standards to buy the steel rods to hang them. I really wanted the bronze ones, but that would have cost me a fortune! :)

Finally I found a carpenter suited for this job and shifted the swing to his location. I waited for a week while the swing was sanded, polished and the tiles and mirror were fixed.

The ceiling needed to be ready before the swing arrived. My heart was in my mouth as the ceiling was punctured to screw up the holders.

Finally the swing was in its place. It is the primary piece of furniture in the living room and has become its signature.

My home, my swing! :)