Block printing beyond textiles

Meera with her husband Vijay , and their two children have made their home in Michigan for the last 20 years. Professionally she works in the Corporate world as a Learning and Development leader. Her undergraduate degree was in Statistics and Mathematics. So there’s a part of her that loves logic and method. But then there is also a part of her that is very organic. Growing up she enjoyed participating in theater and dabbling in whatever little arts and crafts we could get our hands on.  Vijay is mostly a willing partner in these décor tales. He will drive an hour to pick up a Craigslist find. But he does draw the line at moving furniture or moving art work hung on the walls! Hence I mess around with table top vignettes to get a new look every now and then. On-line shopping or doing  quick vintage store run also helps to add newness every now and then. (Grin!)

If you are an ardent follower of Indian Decor blogs you might have seen Meera’s beautiful home in a few other places. What follows is something different :) Meera kindly obliged us with a beautiful video she created on how to use the wood block printing blocks in more innovative ways and well not just for block printing :)

The music that plays in the background of the video is  Meera’s dear friend of 24 years Radhika  !! What a lovely soulful voice :)

Here are some snippets from our conversation :

A personal home décor bucket list?
I really would love to experiment with more wall color.  I would also love to do more with our outdoor  space. Growing up in Bombay, I hardly did much gardening, so definitely would love to give it a shot here. I would also like to do up all of our bedrooms. Right now, they are all functional and simple.

Why do you have such a keen interest in decor ? :) Was it someone in family or friends who inspired you ?
At different times I have been inspired by different people. My father had a good eye for brass wear- I picked that up from him. My mother loves sarees, color combinations, special weaves- that’s how I got to introduced to different crafts around India- by visiting handloom exhibitions with her. When I went to Jamshedpur, I noticed how my classmates were doing up their rooms with matkas, baskets, tokris and chattais. All these were utility items for me till then. But add a paisley motif to a matka, or a light bulb to a tokri and you have a decorative accessory for next to nothing! When I relocated to the US, I started to get inspired by my new friends- who managed to bring a subtle but unique desi aesthetic to our predominantly mid-western homes. Of course, once I discovered blogs, Pinterest and Instagram, there has been an endless source of inspiration!

Your truly prized and favorite possession in home decor ?
Everything in our décor has a story behind it. So I will look at something and it may remind me of a trip we took, or a nostalgic story from my childhood or a gift from a family member or close friend. I can’t pick one favorite thing. But everything that is vintage holds a special place in my heart.
When did you really start doing up your house ? I have a 3 year old Boy ! And I find it impossible to make the house look basic clean forget decorating :) Any tips or ideas ?
That is such a good question. While I always had an interest in décor, at first we were cautious not to spend too much on our home. We wanted to reach our other financial goals first. So in the early days, I tried to be more creative and did a lot of DIY. We moved into our current home about 8 years ago and only in the last couple of years did I really start to more with our décor. We have always kept everything within reach of the children and taught them not to throw things around. Despite that I have more than a couple of things shattered by an errant soccer or basket ball. I try not to sweat it. I will tell you quite honestly, that our home does not look perfect most of the time. Even to do a home-tour, I had to kick toys and shoes and jackets out of the way! So my advice is live in your home. Use it! Enjoy it! Get it all spruced up once in a way to remind yourself what the ideal could be. But really, just stay practical. Its more fun for everyone!
Your favorite homes ?
I love a great color palette or a home that reflects the style of the owners. There used to be a blogger by the name of Kamini Raghavan who had a beautiful home. I don’t think she blogs anymore. But her home is full of character and personality. Love many of the desi homes in the US.  I also love seeing homes with a smaller footprint- its nice to see how creative people get with limited space.

Top 5 Indian decor things everyone must have in their house to make it look unique and beautiful.
a) Family heirlooms and pictures. This adds so much character to one’s home. I don’t have a lot of heirlooms myself, hence I have purchased these items over the years.
b) Color. It could be in the accessories, wall art, textiles and fabric, throw pillows. For me the mark of an Indian home is the vibrancy you feel through colors and textures.
c) Crafts of India. One of my favorite crafts is block printing- which is the theme of the video slideshow. They showcase the artistry, craftsmanship and passion of so many talented people in India. Often these have been  handed down over the years. In the last few decades it was sad to see them on the wane. With the help of NGOs and Fair Trade organizations we see the revival of these crafts. Whether you like the traditional take or a more contemporary flair, there is something for everyone that can be incorporated into your home.
d) Plants and flowers. I have been slower to incorporate these. I love the looks of succulents or air plants. Not to mention they are an added source of color to our décor.
e) Unusual or surprise items turned into décor. I find most of our guests are drawn to the unusual items we have turned into home décor. Usually they are the least inexpensive items too! We use a Singer sewing machine table for our foyer table. I also have an old taxi meter that evokes curiosity for everyone- does it work, where did you get it from, how accurate is it are common questions. We also have an antique fire engine nozzle that we use as a candle stand.
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One thought on “Block printing beyond textiles

  1. Dear Ila,
    I’ve gone through nearly all the posts on your website but I must say this is one of my most favourites. It’s a unique decor idea and kudos to Meera for that thanks to you for bringing it to us :-)
    Loved it totally and the soulful rendition in the background was the cherry on the cake!

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