Curl up in style

Curl up in style

Curl up in style

When Bharathi Gondi was tired of sitting at home all day long, she did what any technology savvy person would — she started browsing the web. And it isn’t very difficult to keep yourself occupied once you have undisturbed access to the internet. That’s how she stumbled on cellulose art.

“I had a lot of spare time and was bored at home, so I ended up exploring the internet. I found some videos on cellulose art and I got addicted to it,” she says.

 This was three years back. Initially she encountered roadblocks but the craft came to her easy enough. Although she came across various other art forms, she decided to stick to this one because, “It was less about the craft and more about spending my time productively. I didn’t want to spend a lot on art supplies, which is the case if you take up other paper art forms like quilling or decoupage. For cellulose art, all I needed to buy was glue. I have subscribed to enough magazines and get many pamphlets so paper is never an issue.” 

She makes upcycled jewellery, home decor and items for specific occasions. “I make ‘rakhi’ bands out of paper and for Christmas, I make colourful Christmas decorations,” she says. When Bharathi mentions ‘colourful’, she doesn’t mean paints. “I choose paper that is colourful on its own and work with that.” The only other expenditure is varnish, which she uses to preserve the paper. 

Though it seems like a simple technique, she clarifies that it isn’t. “Each bead has to be individually handmade. Depending on the shape of the bead one wants, I have to cut and roll the paper. If it’s a cylindrical bead, the paper has to be cut triangularly, and so on. Then I use a toothpick to roll it tightly,” she adds. Next, she varnishes each bead with colourless varnish. “The toothpick would have left a hole so all that’s left to do is string it carefully.” 

The proceeds of her work goes to various NGOs. “I visited Shantiniketan sometime back and their annual art fair was taking place at the time. The residents are encouraged to make art out of everyday things, instead of buying supplies. This got me interested and I brought back home jewellery made from seeds and some ideas,” she says. Another event that inspired to upcycle paper was the Bangalore airshow. “A few years back, when we went to the airshow, I saw a stall with upcycled paper items. It was made by underprivileged children, and I thought I could do the same.” 

Innovative neckpieces, earrings, wall hangings and display pieces made from glossy paper are her specialities. “When I’m making jewellery, I prefer glossy magazine paper — it’s more colourful and sturdy. I use newspaper for home decor items like boxes.” She admits that not everyone can be good at the craft as “somethings can’t be taught” but with enough effort, anyone can enjoy it, she adds. A freelance graphic designer and animation artist, she visualises the works before she strings them together. “I make the beads beforehand but I have a vague idea in my head so I pick the needed colours. Each piece is unique and can’t be replicated because the colours of the paper keeps changing.” Before she found cellulose art, she tried melting and reusing plastic but that didn’t quite work out.

 “Unlike paper, moulding plastic is unhealthy because I’m inhaling the toxic fumes. With a supportive family, she spends as much time as she can get on making unique pieces. 

(Bharathi can be contacted on