Aarathy Priya was unsure about how she will take forward her passion for crafting. "I was a mother of two children; I didn't think I could learn any new skills. I thought I will just be another housewife," she recollects.
But now, Aarathy is a busy bee who alternates between teaching children, taking workshops and even appearing on television programmes! It is the realisation of a childhood dream for the crafter. "I developed a sudden interest in drawing in my childhood. When my mother saw me doodling in my books, she enrolled me in art classes. But I wasn't allowed to choose it as a career since it was seen as a waste of time. I studied BSc computer science and worked for 4-5 years as a Montessori teacher. But I was still very much interested in this and would cut classes all the time to go for drawing lessons."
"Now my profession is tied to my interest. I go around schools taking workshops for students at a nominal rate. I have travelled all over the city for this passion of mine. I can never say no to a workshop because I love imparting knowledge to children. I am also a regular at exhibitions," she says.
From mixed media and scrapbooking to creating ceramic murals and paintings, Aarathy does it all. Though she doesn't always stick to one medium or motif, 'mandalas' are a preferred choice. "I love mandalas. You can keep creating on them, there are no limitations - you can introduce some Zentangles, come out with your own designs and so on," she notes.
Asked about her favourite creation so far, she explains, "I love my ceramic murals, especially the big 'vaastu' mural I have created. A 'vaastu' mural includes elements like flowing rivers, horses, Ganesha images, wheel motifs and so on. It is supposed to bring in money into the household. My piece is made from ceramic clay but looks like wood and most of the visitors to my house first enquire about this piece of art." Aarathy also likes making things that are useful in day-to-day life. "Nobody is interested in putting up many things on the wall now. Gifts or creations have to be thoughtful and useful. I make mobile pouches, tote bags, jewellery pouches, bags and more. Currently, fabric is my favourite medium and I am working on doing T-shirts with zodiac signs."
Initially, when she gifted her artefacts to friends and family, they refused to believe that she could come up with such things. "They couldn't believe that I was capable of something like this. They kept on asking me if the things were bought," she says with a laugh.
Her family has been a pillar of support. "My mother has been extremely encouraging and looks after my children when I go out. My father always buys me whatever materials I want. My husband too is very supportive. When I have to go for workshops, he comes home early to take care of the children." Aarathy now plans to take her art to rural areas to look at ways to provide livelihood options to the women there.