‘One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.’
The above phrase is a cliché, yes, but also incredibly apt for 29-year-old Vidya Bhat and her husband Sushrutha KS, who have been working with discarded glass bottles and turning them into works of art for the last two years.
A biomedical engineer by qualification, it was Vidya’s love and passion for art that led her to start her venture, named Chittaara. What began as a hobby has now become a full-time venture for her.
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“I have always been interested in arts and craft, right from childhood. Somewhere along the way with the pressures of academics and education, my concentration towards it started dwindling. It was only when I saw that my art was being well received and appreciated that I decided to work on it full time,” begins Vidya.
When asked why she named the venture Chittaara, she says, “Sushrutha and I are from Karnataka and chittaara in Kannada means art and design, which is the core of what we do. It is usually the women of the Dewaru community who make these stunning artworks.”
Recalling the first bottle that she painted on, Vidya says, “It was an Amul Kool bottle, which was lying at home. The thrill of finishing it and having it all lit up was enough to motivate me to make many more.”
Vidya was content making these pieces of art for friends and family. Then, in December 2017, she participated in an exhibition to test the water and says that the response was so overwhelming that she was sure of getting into it full time.
Elaborating on the kind of work she undertakes, she says, “I primarily work on two kinds of bottles; one is the upright bottle, in which we insert an LED light and the second one is one in which the bottle is inverted. This inverted bottle comes with a wooden stand, and that wood is also waste wood. All in all, we try and use all the discarded materials to put this together.”
While Vidya is happy to work on bottles that clients bring to her, the bottles she sources are primarily from junk shops.
“When time permits Sushrutha, and I also attend beach cleanups and pick up discarded bottles. Since we are based in Chennai, the access to the beach is immediate, and that helps.”
Speaking about the design on the bottle, she says, “Sushrutha has an eye for aesthetic things, and I take his suggestions seriously. I also draw inspiration from regular life; bright colours, regular everyday scenes, travel experiences, and so on.”
When asked if she is trained in glass painting, she said that it was only through trial and error that she has learnt this art form.
Vidya claims that over the last two years, she has transformed more than 350 bottles into night lamps.
Bottles without any light are priced at Rs 300, and the ones that are larger and come with the lights start at Rs 1000. Vidya says that it all depends on the amount of artwork and light fittings the bottle requires.
When asked how she manages marketing for this venture, she was quick to say, “We rely heavily on Instagram, and many of our customers have found us because of that medium. I haven’t spent much on marketing, and so far it’s all been word of mouth. We also have a number of repeat customers, and that really boosts our confidence.”
If you would like to check out some of Vidya’s work, then do check out her Instagram page @artschittaara or contact her on – +91-9481939654.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)