Discovered! Kuhelee Khandelwal
I discovered her three years ago and it’s taken this long to convince her to share her work. Kuhelee has a delightful mind. And an intimate way of crafting things. A stray bead, left over wire, pins, scrap fabric – she sees possibilities in everything around her. And has the ability to make it look aesthetic. We are family now, so I have even more opportunities to see her work up close. Sharing her creations and her thoughts.
Pentee-pies (as named by her equally creative daughter Tara)
Kuhelee says: “Pentee-pies are small clay creatures with limbs and tails in metal. I started making them to use up bits of clay left over from a larger project and soon got hooked. It was a great way to use up the junk I perpetually store. I am the only one I know who collects old ballpoint pens to take apart and use. I cannot leave a wedding venue without stopping to pick up stray beads and sequins which have been abandoned by clothes.”
Kuhelee says: “My daughter Tara goes to a wonderful school that encourages children as well as parents to make things with their hands. So a school fundraising fair was a good opportunity to try something new. These stones were collected by Tara and me and each one was selected after much discussion and debate. It would have been a pity to cover any of them up with paint. I had no intention to. I just wanted to add something which played with the best features of a stone.”
Kuhelee says: “A memory box could hold the most amazing things – letters, childhood toys, books…we all have memory boxes in our head, it’s fun when these turn into real boxes for tangible things. I made my first memory boxes for my sister Kakolee’s children. She wanted to keep all their baby stuff in them, all the “firsts”. It’s mostly been baby memory boxes since then. My most detailed one is Tara’s of course. It is crammed with illustrations of all her favourite things. The more details I get on my brief, the more personal the box gets for my client.”
In conversation with Kuhelee.
Indian By Design: What do you think of when you make?
Kuhelee: I have always been quite moody when it comes to what I make. I can conveniently pass it off as an artist’s way of behaving but I don’t think that’s true. Firstly, I know some very disciplined artists and secondly, I don’t think of myself as an artist. I think craftsman is more apt a word. I like the actions it implies.
If it is something I have thought of to do, a personal project, I go with the flow. It may mean hours of looking at bits and pieces and ignoring people and events. Not very practical given I have a seven-year old at home!
If it is a commissioned assignment, it’s nice to have a client feed me details and then leave me alone. I am not a very deadline oriented person I’m afraid – more a “when inspiration strikes, I move fast” person actually. Fortunately I have had clients who have had no problem with that!
I truly enjoy working with what others regard as junk. I want to repurpose stuff and upcycle as often as possible.
Indian By Design: What inspires you?
Kuhelee: This may sound a bit clichéd but Nature inspires me. If I see something beautiful and useful, I am very enthused. And if an article/product is handmade, one of a kind, difficult to reproduce and very personal, I am delighted with it.
Indian By Design: How did Elephants Remember come about?
Kuhelee: Before Tara celebrated her first birthday, I had already attended 21 birthday parties with her. And without an exception, we had come away with inexpensive (okay, cheap!) Chinese toys or accessories. It made me sad that no one took the trouble to source better gifts because I didn’t think prices were a deterrent. I started giving gifts either sourced from NGOs or made stuff myself. I am really not sure whether those gifts were liked but at least the thought was appreciated
My friend Vrushali has also had the same experience and was of the same opinion as me on the issue of gifts for children. We just needed to get together to ponder over this and we did when our children started attending school fulltime. Elephants Remember began with orders from friends but now we have taken our venture online and widened our clientele. Our emphasis is on simple, useful designs and great prints, colour schemes and details. Elephants Remember products made for one client look different from what we make for another even if the article is the same and that’s the way we want it to be. We do not work in very large batches and so can customize pretty much everything for a client.
> Kuhelee Khandelwal has a BFA in Applied Art from L S Raheja School of Art and writes, designs and illustrates her own work. She and Vrushali Thale run Elephants Remember. You can find their products on Facebook here.
Filed under: Indian Art, Indian Craft, Indian Design | 16 Comments
Tags: Clay Creatures, Elephants Remember, Kuhelee Khandelwa, Kuhelee Khandelwal, Memory Box, Paper Weights, Pebble Drawings, Pentee Pies, Stone drawings