Hello arty-crafty folks, hope the New Year is turning out to be inspirational, creative and fun filled. It’s good to be back after a break. Let’s begin a new chapter of ‘Crafter in the Spotlight’ this year with an ardent crafter’s inspiring story. It’s Meraj Zaidi, a crafter from Mumbai who is going to tell us about her interesting crafting journey today.
Meraj has been inclined towards craft from a very young age and preferred colours and papers over toys as a child. Even in her professional life she worked as a design consultant and had plenty of crafting experience which she would always cherish. She loves experimenting new craft forms and exploring different mediums.
Read along to find out how Meraj started craft journey, her favourite craft forms, her most desired arty-crafty wish, her memorable experience at Itsy Bitsy, why does she think handmade is the way to choose and much more. Do not miss out the step by step project by Meraj and do leave your loving words for her in the comment section.
Rashmi Closepet M.D Itsy Bitsy: How long have you been crafting?
Meraj Zaidi: My crafty journey began when I was a child…instead of toys I would crave for colours and fancy papers. Everything discarded in the house would get into my stash and I would wait for my vacations to create something beautiful and useful out of them. This transformation from waste-to-best has taught me the same about life and people. No situation is completely out of order and no person is completely useless…everything has a meaning and a purpose…we only need to work on them with our dedication and positive approach and any situation can be won over, and any person can be changed to be a better one.
Formally, I have worked as a design consultant with a reputed company in their hobby idea store with an international range of craft products. My work involved designing and creating projects for them and conducting workshops, giving demos, making craft videos etc. That gave me a chance to work with internationally acclaimed craft teachers from U.S. A. …An experience that I will remember and cherish always!
I have held solo exhibitions and supplied my designs to high profiled lifestyle stores in Mumbai. I have designed and created lot of cards, candles, decoupaged items, mixed media, paper crafts, altered arts, oil paintings on canvas…or I should say I have always loved experimenting and exploring different mediums into varied forms incorporating them into a new creation.
RC: What are your favourite craft forms?
MZ: I believe it’s an ongoing process of learning and surely doesn’t have an end to it! Life gives chances to explore and learn the infinite creative possibilities. Although I love trying all mediums and forms of art and craft and have loved exploring varied forms of art and craft, but to be precise, I love paper crafts which includes scrapbooking, card making, albums, flowers etc. and also candle crafts, mixed media, floral crafts, decoupage, stamping, die cutting, etc.
RC: If you are granted an arty-crafty wish, what would you ask for?
MZ: If I am granted an arty-crafty wish, then I would love to have all the mixed media stuff with different colour mediums, colour sprays, pastes, embellishments, flowers, wooden bases, papers and all the latest releases in my crafty treasure stash. It would be like a dream come true as many time the ideas slip down due to unavailability of certain stuff. Although not just my craft space but every nook and corner of my house is filled with crafty stuff which I have collected over the years but still the need and desire for having more and more is endless.
Also if God blesses me with a magical power as my crafty wish, I will ask Him to give me too many hands while I craft and that too with the power to ‘Think and See’. These new hands can quickly search and find the crafty stuff from their hidden places under the piles of crafty mess on the crafting table and around. These hands will do multitasking of different steps, saving time, and speed up my creative process. When so many ideas come together in the mind these hands will assist giving form to all my imaginations. And yes, once I complete my work these hands can quickly clean, organize and arrange everything so I can start afresh with my new creation quickly!
RC: How did you come to know about Itsy Bitsy?
MZ : I remember some 9 years ago when I was ordering online from U.S. based craft companies, I chanced upon a beautiful site showcasing just amazing crafty supplies … that site turned out to be none other than Itsy Bitsy and I was so pleasantly surprised to find such amazing range of products in our very own homeland. It was such a delight to see such a fantastic brand in India. My happiness knew no bounds and since then there has been no stopping. My crafty stash is full of so many awesome products purchased online and from physical stores in Mumbai and Delhi. I would say for any of us Indian crafters Itsy Bitsy is the only answer to all the crafty needs with its awesome range of products, excellent quality at par with international standards and pocket-friendly prices and not to forget and be thankful for their warm and friendly customer service. For sure Itsy Bitsy is a crafter’s paradise, a heavenly place to shop around.
RC: Tell us about your most exciting shopping experience at Itsy Bitsy.
MZ: I remember once when I was on my way back home picking up my little 4 yr old from school and on the way I suddenly decided to stop at Star Bazaar’s Itsy Bitsy Store. After I picked up the awesome stuff and my shopping cart was full I saw my little darling carrying another shopping basket in his hands and how innocently he told me ‘Mamma I have taken some clay and Dinosaur Painting Kit for me and the rest of the basket is for you, you make something nice with it’. It actually got me smiling with moist eyes as he sort of knew and picked up things I like to use in my creations. Although my cash and credit card got exhausted it was the priceless and most treasured shopping haul I had. Such is the charm of Itsy Bitsy and their wonderful friendly staff that can make even a small innocent child think arty and crafty with love.
RC: Which are the product categories you check out most often for new arrivals?
MZ: Any new product related to mixed media, cutting dies, stamps, stencils, napkins, papers, tools, craft accessories, wooden decorates etc.
RC: What craft products attract you the most?
MZ: Again the list will be endless but will try to name out a few like Stamps, Cutting Dies, Embossing Folders, Pigment Inks, Colors, Sprays, Pastes, Decoupage papers n napkins, Handmade flowers, Wooden décor bases etc.
RC: Which 3 words describe your crafting style the best?
MZ: Vintage, Aesthetic, Romantic
RC: What are your ‘Can’t live without’ craft essentials?
MZ: Paper trimmer, die cutting machine, stamping tools, heat tool, scoring Board, scissors, gesso, decoupage glue, chalk paints
RC: What is your ideal crafting time in a day?
MZ: Amidst all the domestic responsibilities the best time for me is to craft during late nights as that’s the time which is all mine! Although sometimes I too want to close my eyes and slip down into my sweet sleep but my passion to create is far more intense to keep my crafting dream alive and that keeps me awake.
RC: Any inspirational tips for newbies and craft enthusiasts?
MZ: Although a post graduate in Sociology, my soul, heart and mind kept studying art and craft in all its glory observing the beautiful nature around us where every single creation of God is a miracle. Inspired by existence and its beauty, I kept exploring and learning with my own trials and errors and in this ongoing journey of crafting I have realized there are no rules here…no boundaries…even an error or mistake done leads to a beautiful technique. My message to all the crafters is that each one of us is unique with our own style and like different flowers in a garden we all create differently and together make this world of art look beautiful. So keep crafting, continue exploring, be happy and keep spreading love and beauty through your work.
Think, visualize, make and keep repeating it. Pay attention to nature and draw ideas from the Grand Designer.
Remember…”The woods would be silent if no birds sang except those that sang the best.” This quote from poet Henry Van Dyke reminds us not to waste our talents or get discouraged if others are more accomplished or talented.
RC: What inspired you the most in your creative journey?
MZ: Nature! To me, my every inspiration comes from the Real Creator’s Miraculous Creations. I wonder at the unmatched beauty of nature painted on the canvas of our universe by our Supreme Creator. From a blooming bud to the colorful flowers, to the flight of birds to the crowns of mountains, to the flow of rivers to the symphony of rains, to the brightness of sunshine to the calmness of moonlight, to the glory of sunrise to the poetry of sunset to the vastness of sky… There is no end to it… no end to this mystic beauty… and like a drop in ocean; I try to paint my imaginations on the canvas of my little creations.
RC: Any tips for fellow crafters to help them organize their workspace better.
MZ: The first step is to identify the clutter and sort them one by one in a systematic way. Actually, clutter can invade you in 4 ways, physical clutter, paper clutter, digital clutter and the most dangerous one, the emotional clutter.
Physical clutter could be your tools and finished goods that are not stored in a proper place. The secret is to ‘Keep a place for everything and everything in its place’!
Paper clutter could be the clutter which is a waste or a by-product of your creation. Or, the bills, docs, etc. Throw them immediately after taking the essentials out.
Digital clutter is the images which unnecessarily occupying space in your HDD, better delete them or send them in a separate folder so that you can find the useful ones easily.
Emotional clutter will be lesser if you sort the first three. But I would suggest you to also find some time to pray spiritually so that whatever clutter you have accumulated during the day gets cleaned up. Choose your thoughts before they enter your mind.
Since we all as crafters hoard so much that we ourselves sometimes forget what all we have in our stash and thus even for years they remain in hiding. Don’t let your stuff be out of sight, out of mind! Try storing products category wise and if possible use transparent storages or label your storage boxes. This will ease your search to a great extent.
After completion of every project, clean and rearrange, that will surely relieve you of crafty stress.
RC: According to you what’s the best way to overcome a creative block?
MZ: The habit of keeping a journal or a notebook to put down the ideas. The greatest block is slipping of the ideas from the mind.
If you feel you are losing your crafty mojo, take a break, indulge yourself in something else or charge yourself up by involving yourself in other things you have missed doing for long. Take a break and sort out and clean up your stash, some crafty stuff you find hidden may trigger your crafty mood again.
RC: Why do you think people should continue with ‘Handmade’?
MZ: Some people will talk philosophies but when it will come to them, they will go for machine made. Some people will always prefer the handmade.
When the question comes to why continue with handmade, the answer is, a handmade item is like a natural thing, it will be unique, different from all other creations. There are no identical pieces in handmade like factory made goods.
The fun of handmade is its uniqueness, no matter how much one tries to copy it will always be different from the original.
A handmade creation will always carry an emotional quotient attached to it. It has a personal touch to it, a part of the person creating it will always be there, the thoughts, the feelings will get into it. It will always be special as it is always made with love, passion and devotion. Special to oneself or even if you are gifting it, it will make that person feel special, if for sale then it will be just unique like a signature.
RC: Other than crafting what do you enjoy the most?
MZ: I enjoy being in the lap of Nature, getting soaked up in its beauty, observing and feeling every bit of it, be it the rising sun, the smiling flowers, the fragrance in the garden, the sound of the breeze, the chirping birds, the singing cuckoos, the vastness of majestic mountains, the depth of seas…! Love of poetry and soft music add to it. Call me a dreamer who wishes to see and feel just love and only love and peace all around!
List of Products:
Decoupage Papers A4 size Annabelle
Wooden Box 6″/4″/3″
Decoupage Matt Glue
Matt Chalk Acrylic Paints – Cocoa Mist, Passionate Plum, Driftwood, Wild Wasabi, Snow, Fortune Cookie.
Olive Green Pigment Stamp Pad
Butterfly and Sentiments Clear Stamps
Step 1. Remove the metallic latch and hinges with a screw driver. It eases and smoothens the process of pasting of paper and painting the surface.