A quirky world

A quirky world

Unique hobbies

A quirky world

The closest of friends, Angeline Babu and Rituparna Das call each other their doppelganger. “When we are crafting, it’s less about us as individuals; the focus is on an idea we share and our beliefs. Which is why people tend to confuse us — we never put ourselves ‘out there’, just our art,” explains Angeline. The duo is known for their innovative upcycling methods of plastic and other dry waste.

Up until 2012, they were your everyday environmentally conscious citizens who did their bit to keep a check on the amount of waste they produced. But something changed that year which made them want to create a bigger dent in the world. “When our children, who attend the same school, were 6 years old, they asked us about recycling (as it was a part of the syllabus). Although we recycled at home, we realised that it wasn’t enough to make them understand,” they say. This is when Angeline and Rituparna began experimenting with plastic, which soon, harvested an addiction for upcycling any kind of waste product.

 And since they live in the same flat complex they had no hindrances when conceptualising an idea. “But we do have our disagreements. It’s difficult to separate friendship from our ideas on crafting,” they say, an echo of each other. Even with these disagreements, they are more in synch than most people and tend to finish each others’ sentences. “I don’t know where I begin and Ritu ends!” says Angeline. Books, music and philosophy brought them together but art keeps them that way.

Jewellery made from PET bottles and soda caps and home decorations made from glass bottles, tyre tubes, nuts, bolts and CDs are some of their speciality. Any dry waste that comes their way is given a makeover and sent along the way. “If you think out of the box, everything has the potential to be art,” says Angeline.

This is also their way of securing their children’s future in a world that is becoming increasingly dependent on plastic and has no qualms about discarding waste. “Everyone can talk about keeping the environment safe but your actions matter. We wondered ‘are we doing enough’. Not many people work on plastic bottles and plastic is choking the planet,” says Rituparna. So instead of using compact fluorescent light bulbs or light-emitting diode lights, they decided to take a bigger step. “In the start, we tried burning plastic and it crystallised, which was interesting. How could we not use something that looked so beautiful?” she adds. The amount of effort needed is more but they say it’s worth it.

However, they refuse to elaborate on this ‘effort’. “Plastic washes of almost all kinds of paints so it took us numerous tries to get the mixture right. We know hundreds of techniques that don’t work on plastic but only 1 that does, which is why we aren’t willing to share it,” says Angeline. But a basic routine includes cleansing the waste product, getting colour on it and making sure it doesn’t run, transferring an image on it and hand painting the image. “Once the image is placed between 2 plastic sheets, we heat the edges in a controlled environment and seal the art work inside. Even the slightest change in temperature can destroy a work. It’s heartbreaking when a piece you’ve been working on for 5 days is destroyed in 5 seconds,” adds Angeline.

While it might seem hopeless at times, perfecting new techniques is an addiction for them. Sometimes they work from 5 am to 2 am. “We are textbook introverts so we work from our own homes. But no work is exclusively mine or Angeline’s; it’s always a mixture,” says Rituparna. After dropping their children to the bus stop, they take a walk and talk out ideas, which are implemented at their homes. 

(Angeline and Rituparna can be contacted on silver.nut.tree@gmail.com)