Don’t Smash That Bottle

by Sheela Jaywant

Recycle it into Art

Wine comes in classy bottles. But when the festivities are done, mind the poor bottle is left empty of spirit, tossed into the scrap yard. This is where Sharmila Majumdar acts as saviour, reincarnating those lovely bottles into of arty lamps. Wrapped with coir-rope, wearing aprons of lacquer and blushing with violent pinks and purples, these bottle-lamps are Made in Goa and now grace up-market homes all over India.

“When we moved from Delhi to Goa, I had so much time on my hands, and all the creative juices began to flow,” says Sharmila, who works from her Porvorim home. “I love pretty things and I have always used my fingers to craft what I couldn’t afford to buy. I began up-cycling wine-bottles in 2011. But the serious ‘work’ on them began only in 2013.”

Sharmila has no background of art, but is imbued with a love of aesthetic recycling. “I would change curtains into bedcovers, t-shirts into fashionable bags, that sort of thing.”

Initially, she sourced good-looking booze bottles from friends and made them into lamps. “I bought the fittings from Delhi because they were cheaper there.” She scouted around for paints and knick-knacks which would convert the bottles into something very chic. Now, after two years of selling her crafted items in Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai and Goa under the brand name ‘Kitsch Bits’, she doesn’t have to depend on friends for raw material. “I’ve made friends with scrap-dealers who now keep aside unusual-shaped bottles for me.”

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Having been a school teacher and later a corporate trainer, she’s very particular about quality. “I make sure… and I’ve experimented enough…that the paint won’t peel, the bottle won’t topple, the wire will stay in place.” From bottles, she’s graduated to converting waste-wood into tables and lamp-stands. “I have a carpenter to do the cutting, but I save costs by doing the scraping, painting and polishing myself, like I do the wiring.”

Interestingly, her customers are largely men. “I’ve found that women prefer smaller, more slender items, whereas their husbands or boyfriends buy the chunkier, bulkier wares. Also, I’ve found that women pick up the pinks and oranges, and the men take the navy-blues and greys.”

She adds: “When I started out marketing these bottle-lamps, I didn’t know who’d buy them. But the very first time I rented a stall, I sold off eighty percent of what I’d displayed and then there was no looking back.”

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Sharmila Majumdar

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