Creative carvings

Unique Hobbies

Creative carvings

Rather than haphazardly tossing cut vegetables into a cooking vessel and dumping the leftovers into trash, Mubeen, a resident of Jayanagar, thought that she could do something creative with her culinary skills.

She began carving vegetables when her children were infants but as she was hard pressed for time, her hobby didn’t become a full grown passion until about five years ago.

After looking at several carvings in different restaurants and offices, she took time to master the art through different books and the internet.
 
 For Mubeen, who is self-taught and balancing family on another side, it is a wonder that she takes about 20 minutes for a simple carving and 30 minutes for an elaborate one.
 
 Mubeen loves working with an eclectic mix of vegetables like papaya, beetroot, watermelon, mangoes, cucumber and radish, innovating a multitude of designs like peacocks, flowers, cranes and hummingbirds.

Her favourite vegetable to work with is the watermelon because of its visually appealing colours. “Thankfully until now, I have not made any mistakes like cutting my finger or having to break down a whole design and revamping it. However, sometimes, while decorating a carving with flowers, the petals tend to fall off so I secure them with toothpicks,” she says.

 She likes to pay attention to even the smallest of details, such as combining the
vegetables with Ikebana so that the shape is proper or decorating it with green
foliage, twigs and pebbles for colour.

According to Mubeen, the carvings should mostly comprise of vegetables and should look as ‘real’ as possible. “Most people think that their job is done once the carving is over. However, the presentation doesn’t end there. It should be well-laid on tables with napkins and vases on either side to look beautiful.”

The entire process is a long one but Mubeen’s determination has taken her far. She first conceptualises and draws the design on paper.

After the sketch, she traces it on the vegetable and then cuts it from there itself.
She adds, “On certain fruits like watermelon, I draw with free-hand and then cut or sometimes, I draw with stencil. I sprinkle ice cold water on the vegetables so that it stays for a long time.

If I keep a carving in the lower compartment of the fridge and cover it with loose plastic or in an air tight box, it stays for four days.”  
Her carvings are a huge hit at parties, weddings and social events and she says that her lunch and dinner tables always have her carvings.

She has won many laurels for her displays and has also carved designs in
various schools, teaching the students her trait because she believes that art has to be spread without commercial constraints.

She fondly recalls her most memorable moment, which is winning the first place for her designs at Krishna Rao Park, on International Women’s Day, where she carved designs from watermelon, papaya, beetroot, radish and carrot in an hour.    
Mubeen adds that one of her biggest success factors is the ‘feel good’ feedback she receives from her family and friends.

“It’s nice to know that your work is seen and appreciated because so much of effort and attention goes into making a design.” When asked which is the toughest vegetable to work with, she says, “Nothing, although carrots and beetroots are a bit tough because they are hard. But everything comes with practice.”

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