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DIY Till I Die: In Conversation With Designer & Illustrator Payal Parmar

Turning scraps and discards into beautiful objects of art

Bangle stands, jewellery boxes, laptop and phone covers – amazing craft ideas from The Creatist

DIY Jewellery Boxes

Payal Parmar is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer by profession, and an artist, crafter, bookworm and blogger at heart. The crafts bug hit her when she was a bonny young girl, but constant reprimands by relatives over her expensive and purposeless hobbies made her divert her energies to studies instead.

Luckily, real talent has a way of shining through, and in Payal’s case, that happened when she took the decision to study Fine and Commercial Arts. The love for canvasses translated into a career as a graphic designer, and to the surprise of the practical pundits, Payal had found her purpose in the colourful world of crafts and colours.

My Big Red Bag in conversation with the woman behind the popular DIY Crafts Blog, The Creatist


The Beginning

My earliest memories are of me sketching. painting, stitching and devising my own little DIY projects. I was happiest surrounded by my crayons, with my hands smeared with colour and my clothes strewn with motley threads and glitter. I remember making a bangle stand for my mom on her birthday (with the help of my brother) out of a cheap cricket ball and toothpaste boxes – it was tacky and clumsy but she loved it and used it for as long as possible.

Summer holidays usually meant scavenging for stuff that could be re-purposed as something for my dolls, or simply something that could be made beautiful. I would beg the “boutique aunties” for scrap fabrics from which I would make silly little clothes for my Barbies.

Real life took over as I grew older, and with the constant pressure of academic success, my creative projects got few and far between. Fortunately, my decision to study Art helped me craft a successful career out of my first love.

When did you start the blog and what was the inspiration behind it?

I started this craft blog in 2007, but it wasn’t my first blog. I have been blogging since 2004, and initially my blogs were about fiction and fashion and design.

Blogging filled a void in my life, the need to express and share my thoughts and ideas with others. I am an introvert so it was not easy for me to share my writings with people I know – it was much easier to write anonymously on the internet. From journal entries to fictional stories, then onto photography and a fashion & lifestyle blog, I did it all, fulfilling my creative hunger.

Over the years, I felt the need to keep a log of my craft work and document the story behind each project, and that is how The Creatist was born. Now, I have different blogs for different purposes. The craft blog is all about DIY projects and ideas. I have another blog where I pour out my thoughts or write short stories and my third blog is a collective on fashion & lifestyle.

Encouraged by the success of The Creatist, I have recently launched my own line of laptop bags and tablet covers on Zazzle, with plans to add many more designs in the future. I must admit that it is extremely satisfying to see your art being converted into something that is utilitarian and creative. 

Zazzle_Hair Nest Laptop Sleeve

What kind of designs and decor do you enjoy?

This is so tricky! I honestly love all kinds ! My dream house is going to have different rooms done in different styles. A contemporary living room, a vintage study, a minimalistic bedroom, a kitschy kitchen… and that’s why it’s a “dream” house.

Your design influences and designers/artists/decorators you admire?

I confess that my sources of inspiration changes from time to time! Currently, I am really influenced by old black and white photos, rooms painted in rich, dark colors and illustrations in children’s books. When it comes to my crafts blog, My I regard “How About Orange” and “Craftzine” as the game changers.

Where do you like shopping for artifacts for your own house?

I have shifted cities and homes so often that there’s really no fixed place for this! An online marketplace I wish I could afford is One Kings Lane – I simply love their curated items. And amongst stores, Good Earth has the most beautiful products ever – and the most expensive too!

Any new plans for the blog, or a decor project you are excited about?

I will be moving houses soon, so I have put any new projects on hold. The new house will be my new project and I simply cannot wait to get started! I am going crazy jotting down ideas.

Your ideal home would be:

An apartment or house?

A house definitely. Preferably with a garden. And a dog or two!

By the sea or in the mountains?

In the mountains! There’s nothing as soothing and peaceful as living in the hills.

Antique or contemporary furniture?

A bit of both actually. Like a vintage study table and a comfortable ,contemporary chair.

Bright colors or pastels on the walls?

Both! I love all colors. If I could, I would paint every room in the house with different colors.

Finally Payal, could you share an easy DIY project with our readers?

Sure! A few months ago, I was looking for some inspirations for jewellery boxes. If you Google jewellery organiser or look up some options at Pinterest, most of the stuff you will see will be about displaying your jewellery on your dresser or in drawers or framed on walls. Beautiful ideas, no doubt, but they are not always feasible. I live in a rental and cannot go around hanging things on the wall. Plus, its really dusty here in India, so displaying jewellery is totally out of question.

I have a lot of jewellery ( I hoard it!) which I hardly wear but I prefer to keep it well within reach. I needed something which will let me glance at my jewellery at one go, especially rings, but keep them safe. Also, my neck pieces had to be stored somehow so as to not get tangled.

I stored my rings in two clear plastic boxes. There were a lot of ideas online about storing rings, and I borrowed a lot.

For one box, I rolled up foam into 4-5 tubes/rolls, and glued them onto a piece of cardboard (cut to size of the box).

Jewellery Box 2

Then I ran out of foam. And there was still one more box to be organised! :(  I thought of rolling up pages out of old books, but I love books and couldn’t bring myself to do that. So I tore out pages from fashion glossies (2-3 year old) and created rolls out of them. You can use felt or fabric (like velvet) for the purpose. I wanted to create it from material I already had at home.

And then, the best part:  placing your rings in the boxes and admiring how beautiful they look!

Jewellery Box 1

Now the second problem: my necklaces. For this project, I again used things I already had with me. So basically, both projects cost me no money :D

You need:

A file binder/organiser, hole puncher, pieces of cardboard (I always store cardboard which comes with new shirts/mail boxes, it’s great for craft), safety pins, glue, scissors, stapler, ribbons, ruler, gift wrapping paper and your choice of embellishments.

Jewellery Folder

1. Cut the cardboard pieces 2-3 inches smaller than the file.

2. Cover them with beautiful paper of your choice on both sides.

3. Punch holes in them (you might have to press really hard if the cardboard is thick) making sure that the holes are carefully aligned with the file.

4.Take strings/wire/thread/twine/ribbons of your choice. Staple them from one end of the cardboard to another, keeping as close to the top as possible. This will help in holding the necklaces.

5. String two more ribbons around the width of the cardboard as these will help keep the necklaces from getting entangled. Add safety pins to the top ribbon or string. Hang your favourite necklace from it. Repeat steps for all neck pieces.

Note: I hung 4-5 neck pieces per cardboard page. Some of them are chunky hence I cannot use for than 4 pages in this binder. If you have a big collection, you will need to create more such files to store your jewellery.

It has been a week now and I must say I smile every time I open my wardrobe and see my jewellery all beautifully organised. I can open my “file” any time and go through my neck pieces. I can see all my rings at a glance. Dressing up is so much easier now!

My Big Red Bag brings original content inspired by life’s joys and passions. Find more inspiration in our Decor Happy Issue, and stay tuned to our latest content by following us on Twitter and FB!

4 Comments on DIY Till I Die: In Conversation With Designer & Illustrator Payal Parmar

  1. Absolutely inspiring piece. Goes to show that true creativity always finds its well deserved place….

  2. Kartar Parmar // August 1, 2014 at 4:23 pm // Reply

    Loverly ! Loverly !! Loverly !!!. Simple, beautiful and elegant creations (yet totally inexpensive). Great creativity. Keep up and unleash your potential.

  3. Have always been a fan of Payal’s writing on Dark Rain… And it is wonderful to know so much more about her. Inspiring, as always. :)

  4. My Dearest Payal
    Loved reading ur interview..u truely deserve so mch appreciation as an artist..i hv known u since many years now and i mst tell u dat u r a fantastic artist nd designer who has gt original ideas and i
    really appreciate ur work nd designs all d best nd way to go dear

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