Roping in profits

Her paintings are not the usual oils-on-canvas. Using jute rope, 55-year-old Varsha Rishi creates works of art that have helped turn her unique hobby into a money-making venture.

Priya Kapoor        Print Edition: September 4, 2008

Varsha Rishi
Varsha Rishi
How did you think of making paintings from jute rope?

I have tried my hand at various forms of paintings and calligraphy. I took to jute painting 10 years ago when I discovered it while shopping for curtain cloth. I bought a cream-coloured cloth and a jute rope, then painted the rope green and stitched it on to the cloth like a tree. It looked wonderful, so I decided to do this on canvas as well.

How has the response been?

Astounding. I didn’t know my hobby would find so many takers. Besides individual orders, I now get bulk orders of 15-20 paintings every month from building contractors who want to sell furnished homes.

How much investment is required?

Jute painting is not expensive at all. I invest between Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 per painting, which includes framing charges. One just needs canvas, oil, gold paint, brushes, glue and jute rope. However, it’s a time-consuming process. First, the canvas has to be painted, which takes nearly two days to dry. Then the rope is fixed on it, which takes about a week.

How much do the paintings cost?

There are no fixed charges as the size, effort and time involved determine the price. However, I retain a minimum 50% margin. My paintings cost Rs 3,000-10,000.

Do you customise the paintings?

Yes. I usually paint trees, but if someone comes up with specific requirements like lord Ganesha or horses, I do them too.

What are your future plans?

I plan to open a boutique to sell my work. I also want to make paintings from aluminium foil and newspaper clippings.

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