Published: 14th June 2020
This Chennai artist is upcycling glass bottles found in junkyards into awesome lamps. Check it out
Vidya Bhat collects glass bottles from junkyards and people to create some amazing pieces of decor that are super lit, pun intended! Here's how he makes them really stand out and why you need one
The next time you decide to throw away glass bottles because they are cluttering up your space, think again. Instead of disposing them, ship them off to Vidya Bhat. Why? Vidya is a Chennai-based artist who is repurposing glass bottles by painting them and turning them into beautiful night lamps. Vidya, who started Chittaara — named after a traditional folk art form in Karnataka — two years ago to sell these upcycled bottles, says, “My husband, Sushrutha, and I fit LED lights, which can be plugged into an electrical source, inside the bottles to make it functional and not just a decorative piece.” Vidya sells the bottles on her Facebook and Instagram pages and also through exhibitions.
Speaking about the origins of Chittaara, Vidya, who was always an avid painter, narrates, “I started painting on small bottles that I had lying around the house. Liking what they saw, my friends encouraged me to try the same on other bottles of different shapes and sizes, which they gave me. After painting on them, I returned the bottles to them.” It’s her friends’ appreciation of her work, she believes, that led her to continue working with glass bottles and turn it into a business. Vidya not only creates her own designs but she also customises them. “I create unique, exclusive pieces for people who want to recreate a memory. I collaborate with such people, come up with a theme and then, paint it on the bottles,” says Vidya, who hails from Udupi in Karnataka.
The designs on her bottles range from traditional art, like Madhubani or Kalamkari art, to something more modern. “I try to cater to a larger group of people and painting different styles is exciting,” says Vidya, who named her business Chittaara not only because it is the art form of her hometown, but also because of its close connection with the word ‘chitra’ which means ‘drawing’ in Sanskrit. Other than bottles, Vidya also paints on kerosene glass lamps. “Instead of lighting them with kerosene, we fit LED lights in these lanterns,” adds Vidya, who has an MTech in Biomedical Engineering from Manipal Academy of Higher Education. “I usually take two to three days to complete painting one piece as I usually work on multiple bottles at a time,” adds the self-taught glass artist.
She sources the bottles of various shapes and sizes from junkyards. “When I decided to paint different types of bottles, I had to check out junkyards, which have now become my primary source for bottles. These bottles would usually be crushed,” she says. She also gets bottles from people who donate them. “Recently, a woman gave away almost 50 glass bottles which her husband had collected over the years,” recalls Vidya, adding, “We also do beach clean-ups to find bottles.” Vidya sells the night lamps and lanterns on her Facebook and Instagram pages, starting at Rs 1,000 a piece.
Some of her other glass paintings: