There is something called coffee addiction. If you are addicted to coffee, try crochet. Once you try crocheting, you will never look back (to any other addiction). Just over 10 to 20 minutes of crocheting can drain out all my stress,” says Indian expatriate Manju Jai.
Manju is a crochet knitter, bottle artist and food photographer. Though she loved colours since her childhood, she turned to arts to vent out her stress and feel positive.
A trained nurse by profession, she quit her job to take care of her two children, a son and a daughter.
She recently spoke to Gulf Times about her creative art and how it works as stress buster for her.
Manju was member of a team that created the largest scarf with crochet in 2017 and set a Guinness World Records.
The crocheted scarf measuring 14.089km (46,223 feet and 9 inches) was made by Mother India’s Crochet Queens at MNM Jain Engineering College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, on May 21, 2017.
A resident of Qatar for the past 16 years, Manju’s first introduction to the world of art was her passion for colours.
“I have been passionate about colours. In school, I studied art and used to draw colourful sketches but could not pursue my passion after I took up nursing as a career. The love for colours however never died inside me.”
After quitting her job, Manju decided to revert to art and creativity after her daughter was diagnosed as a special needs child.
“It was emotionally very hard for me. I was advised to do something to vent out my feelings and stay relaxed. It was around that time my husband brought home some canvasses and colours sticks. “I started with paintings but could not do much as I was too much busy with my kids, especially my daughter (who is 10 years old now).”
Although Manju quit her job in 2015 she had started crocheting before that. “It was mainly for the children. After resigning, I started doing it more. I started making stuff on demand, things like baby blankets, baby shoes, and stuffed toys.
“I am not selling them as the process to obtain a special licence is underway. I sometime give them away as gifts.
“People appreciate my crochet work primarily for the choice of colours and the finishing touches. If it is not perfect for me, I will redo it again. My stuffed toys are hand-made and kids love them,” she stressed.
Responding to a question on the satisfaction she gets from crocheting, Manju said that it was like an addiction for her. “My most favourite quote is that you say coffee addiction but you have not tried crochet yet. Once you try crochet, you will never look back.
“Nowadays I am doing a lot of bottle art and have not much time for crocheting. However, my hands still long to hold the crochet. Just 10 to 20 minutes of crocheting can take away all a whole day of stress. All those who do crochet work, they will most certainly have experienced a similar feeling of being relaxed. May be, it is the repetitive pattern. You repeat it and you need a lot of attention. It is a repetitive process and you see a thing looming into a shape. That creation gives you a sense of satisfaction and release the stress.”
It was during the first coronavirus lockdown in 2020 that Manju was attracted to bottle art. “I had to stop crocheting as kids were not going to school and I had to spend more time with them. Staying at home all the time was also very stressful.
“I needed something to relieve my stress. I noticed an empty olive oil bottle and some leftover paint. I painted the bottle and placed LED lights in it.
“Bottle art is all about upcycling. If not used for creative purpose, the bottle can end up in trash. There is much appreciation for the bottle art. My friends ask me to paint bottles with their names or their favourite quotes.”
Manju reiterates the positive psychological effects of doing art. “I tried time and again only to focus on my household work. It did not help me. I need colours to relax. Creating something gives a sense of achievement. It makes me think positively. Living in Qatar has also helped me to become an artist.”
Manju’s art work can be accessed at her Instagram — @violetz
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