I am Shalini Samuel, from the land of nawabs and tazeeb - Lucknow. I had worked for 34 yrs as a Teacher and mostly taught English in various schools in India and abroad. On retirement, we decided to settle down at Lucknow. Being married to an army officer, I have travelled extensively in the country and even abroad. I have a son who is married and working in Singapore and a daughter who is also married to an Army officer and staying here in Lucknow. I have two handsome grandsons whom I dote upon.
There is a lot of difference between being a mother and a grandmother. As a mother, I was pretty strict with my children and did not have so much time to devote to them as I was a working mother throughout. However, as a grandmother, I have all the time in the world to devote to my grandsons. Also as a mother, I was pretty strict about my children’s studies etc., but now tell my daughter to relax and go easy on her kids.
As a wife of an army officer, whenever we were posted I always tried to learn something new. I joined classes in cooking, baking, ice cream making, oil painting stitching, clay modelling, flower making and fabric painting, to name a few. I was very busy teaching in school, coming home, seeing to the cooking, teaching the children and then at night take out 2-3 hrs for my various activities. There was no WhatsApp, internet, mobiles in those days, so I could devote my leisure time for my hobbies. I guess I had some crafty gene in me that made me learn many new things.
I learnt Decoupage from an army officer’s wife about 25 yrs ago. At that time, there were no tissues or acrylic paints. We had to stick whatever picture we wanted and blend the edges with sandpaper and whatever portion of the picture that was cut off in the process; I painted it in with oil paints. It was a very tedious job and quite a lot of effort was required. But I loved to do it; every new project was a challenge. I even now have my old plates.
My friends really liked my work so I started getting some orders. Then I used all my old crockery plates and even some from my friend to do decoupage. I gifted these decoupage plates to my friends on the birthdays and anniversaries and everyone loved these unique gifts. So slowly this hobby of mine became my passion.
I love to explore new techniques of decoupage and each project I undertake reflects it. I love up-cycling. I love to give a new dimension to things from anything that comes in handy. How much busy I am I always take out time out for crafting.
I have a strong support system in my husband and my children. My son and daughter-in-law are ever willing to get me new material from Singapore. Even now, whenever I visit them, I make it a point to attend a few classes on decoupage, conducted there by experts in that field. Now with their encouragement, I am emboldened to showcase my products in an upcoming exhibition cum sale at Lucknow.
My message to all Indian mothers out there is, that no matter if you are a working mother or a full-time homemaker, keep aside some time to cultivate and indulge in your hobbies. Any form of craft is one of the most relaxing and flexible forms of art. It can be in any medium and with anything which catches your fancy. You do not need any formal degree or a great education. Craft whatever you like and follow your own style, to create stuff, which will give you real joy and happiness throughout your life.