I couldn’t get myself to throw it,” says Anandhi Rajan, who has the knack for converting everyday objects into recycled murals, showpieces, laundry bags and even gigantic flower vases.
Trying to give a reason for the obsession is hard for her and she admits, “Recycling just happened and I don’t understand why. If I see something attractive, I keep it without knowing what to do with it. I just stick some things on it and give it a new form. Even with stones — some have such unusual shapes that I just have to make them into paperweights and pen holders.”
Nothing that has the potential of being ‘attractive and useable’ can go by her because the fact is that for this housewife from Jayanagar, there is no greater pleasure than coming across material that can be rendered useful.
The sheer variety of resources used by her is surprising but certainly interesting — stale bread, bangles, floppy disks, old magazines and calendars, wedding invites, thermocol, pista shells, visiting cards, old blouses and sari borders, to name a few.
She has been doing this for the last two decades and has developed a rationale for not throwing out what one could call ‘junk’ from her home-cum-workshop.
With her magic, food containers that one gets for home delivery become usable boxes by merely sticking sari borders around it; powder dispensers are made into agarbati (incense stick) holders; even stale bread isn’t spared and is used in a variety of things. Anandhi justifies, “Each object has its own recycling value that can’t be pinpointed to one use or another. The possibilities are really vast.”
Since she had pursued art at Delhi University, it only paved the way for her to pursue this hobby. But for her, this is only one of her many hobbies. There’s also gardening, flower making, digital scrap-booking and digital painting among other things. “Balancing so many hobbies is a challenge. But I seem to enjoy whatever I do!” she smiles.
Her mind is constantly searching for new ideas. On how she manages to innovate on a regular basis, she confesses, “When you keep doing this for long enough, ideas will automatically come. With each new project, you look at it and realise that you could have done something differently. And the next time you work on something like that, it becomes a whole new object. ”
She adds, “There is no dearth of inspiration and the existence of the Internet and sites like ‘Pinterest’ also offer enough and more ideas. But while I browse them once in a while, I prefer my own designs.”
The ‘junkmaster’ is also happy that she has been able to spread her love for waste to others. “I advise people about what to do with their junk. I’ve been conducting classes for children to extend this hobby and also have two blogs with followers who are keen to do the same things I do,” she says.
Just as she is content making these colourful objects, she is also fond of gifting them. “If there’s something made by me that isn’t placed in the house, my main purpose is gifting it. It may not be a big gift but people really appreciate the gesture,” she says.
Anandhi also recalls how her passion for gift tags started. “My son changed his job and all his old visiting cards were lying around. I started pasting two together and decorated them to use as gift tags, which are now used more frequently than I expected,” she says. Among the highlights of her hobby are a few creative household items made by her. There’s the laundry drum made of cardboard and rolled up magazines that give it a cylindrical structure.
Even her curtains have her signature touch, made of foam, bangles and cuttings from wedding cards, while her flower vase is made of pipes and ropes. But her personal favourite is a hanging doll made out of an old blouse piece, which she uses to stuff unused plastic packets into.
“Over time, it’s become a simple passion and the time taken to make anything varies between two to four hours. Only the laundry drum takes a long time — around four to five days though,” notes Anandhi.
She excitedly concludes that the last item made by her was a box which had a crack inside it.
“I wanted to cover the crack and so, I put some chemical clay to seal it and painted it dark. I’ve made it into a workplace instead of just a box — if I put a plank on it, it becomes my desk,” she wraps up.