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Handicrafts from old newspaper

Creativity finds many outflows. At Surya Ramesh Engineer’s home in Mumbai, it peeps out from the curtain in the living room and the tray used to serve guests — all made from recycled newspaper. The 68 year-old made her first newspaper curtain in 1994 on a visit to her daughter’s home in the Seychelles. “I wanted to make something to cover up one of her stairwell windows,” she remembers. She glued together cylindrical rolls of used newspaper to form a curtain and hung it from a bamboo stick. Later, Engineer replicated the feat by turning 8 kg worth of used newspapers into a huge blind for her home. She took it a step further by weaving the paper rolls together. Using annual company reports and old newspapers, she went on to make blinds, coasters, spectacle cases, envelopes and bags.

In July 2004, Nature Seychelles, an environmental organisation, organised a demonstration of her techniques. Then, she held an exhibition-cum-sale at her residence in Khar in Mumbai — all her products, priced between Rs 75 and Rs 1,000, sold out. She has also held two demonstrations, including one at the Harmony Interactive Centre in Girgaum, South Mumbai. “I want to impart this art to other women, who can use their time productively,” she says. You can contact Engineer on 022 26463284


DO-IT-YOURSELF: COASTER

Take some used newspaper sheets.
Take a square piece of cardboard and paint it black on one side. This will be the base of the coaster.
Start rolling each news sheet into a cylinder and fasten the edge with glue.
Make as many such rolls as required.
Cut the newspaper rolls to match the size of the cardboard and paste them on the non-painted side of the cardboard.
After it dries, your coaster is ready.

Featured in Harmony Magazine
January 2008