Designs on paper

Designs on paper


Designs on paper

Humble paper can transform itself into a fashionable accessory. Rachna Bisht-Rawat finds out how.

At the core, it’s just a piece of pretty paper, turned and twisted into an intricate design, with some pearls stuck on top, hanging between some wooden beads slipped into a nylon thread. But when it sparkles against your skin in shades of pink and aquamarine and sea green and a rainbow of other delicious shades, it acquires an amazing allure.

And what is more, it can be the perfect accessory for that black dress or the stringy white top of even the glamourous jade green gown you only thought would go with emeralds and diamonds. If you haven’t already, check out some paper jewellery the next time you go accessorising your wardrobe. Not only is it colourful and attractive, it’s alsorefreshingly different, light in weight and comes at a fraction of the money you would otherwise spend on other forms of jewellery.

Fine arts graduates are turning their eye to an old form of artistic design — it’s called paper quilling or even paper filigree. During the Renaissance, French and Italian nuns and monks used quilling to decorate book covers. What makes it new, however, is what talented young people are doing with it. Quilling is an art form where the artist creates intricate patterns by shaping and glueing narrow strips of paper.

The paper is wound around a quill to create a basic coil shape and then glued at the tip. These shaped coils are arranged to form flowers, leaves, and various ornamental patterns similar to ironwork. The beauty lies in doing it with patience, expertise and neatness. “That could make the difference between a botched up mess or a piece of exotic jewellery any woman would like to own,” smiles Rajni Bist, Master of Fine Arts and silver medallist from The Government College of Art, Chandigarh.

After nearly a decade of experimenting with various jobs from freelance artist  to lecturer at APJ College, Jalandhar, Rajni turned away from art exhibitions to concentrate on paper filigree, an art form that she confesses, captivated her completely. The young Army wife discovered paper filigree by accident when she came across a niece of hers who was learning quilling from a professional. “I found it interesting and since I had already been an artist, I used my knowledge of design and colour to experiment with some jewellery making,” she says.

The jewellery became an instant hit with friends and during a lonely stint in Dehradun when her Army officer husband was posted to Congo, she gingerly tried her hand at selling the pieces she had made online. “My paper jewellery was a hit and I soon started getting orders even from other countries. It was a perfect job for me. I was doing what I loved from home and making money too,” she says. Rajni now owns a registered company called SaaRaa art . The company is making jewellery but has also branched into photo frames, candles etc.

Rajni fills up her lonely weekends travelling to New Delhi’s Chandni Chowk where she wades through the by lanes hunting around for material and little bits and pieces like kundan, pearls and beads that make her jewellery so exotic. She also sources material from Mumbai and paper from China. “My husband will be back soon and we’ll be together again but while he was gone I think I  found a love that will stay by my side for a lifetime,” she laughs.

Quilling is not new. It became popular in the 18th century in Europe where gentle ladies of quality practiced the art. It was one of the few things ladies could do that was thought not too taxing for their minds or gentle dispositions. It’s become much rarer now though quilling can be found at art galleries in Europe and in the United States. However, if you wish to revive the lost art and give your flashy gold jewellery a miss for a change, you can have it dangling from the ear lobe or even resting prettily against your neck.