Asha Anish’s little stall in Kovalam Art and Craft Village is filled with her quilling artworks. From portraits to sceneries, she weaves wonders using paper.
Published: 15th June 2022 03:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th June 2022 03:15 AM   |  A+A-
Artist Asha Anish with her artwork.
KOCHI: Through the wooden doorway of one of the craft studios inside Kovalam Art and Craft Village (KACV) you enter into a magical art land. The place is filled with a collection of framed portraits of famous icons, including Mahatma Gandhi and Sree Narayana Guru. The works neatly stacked in separate cabins on the wall, may look like paintings. But they are all frames — be it of artforms like Kathakali or Gods like Ganesha made using paper. 

“Thin strips of papers are rolled, looped, curled and twisted into coils of various shapes to create these designs,” explains a faint voice in the corner of the Quilled Paper Crafts studio. Artist Asha Anish is a Kottayam native, who has been staying in the capital city for the past two years.
The colourful smiling kitten on canvas made with green, yellow, blue, and pink strips reveals her craftsmanship. It is said that quilling originated in ancient Egypt and Asha has been practising the art form rich in history, for the past 10 years. 
Along with creating striking portraits of well-known personalities and weaving sceneries using paper, Asha also effortlessly explains her craft to the onlookers who drop in at her studio, which is one of the 28 variety craft studios inside KACV. 
Her children Kashinath C A and Devananda C A are regular figures in the studio when they don’t have class. The class 7 and 10 students excel in quilling. Her son creates portraits of personalities on request and her daughter is skilled in making three-dimensional miniature quilling works. 
“Social media has popularised the art form in many ways. Kashinath has been sharing the works on his Instagram page too. The art is thought to have originated in Egypt as it was a low-cost means to create decorative items for religious festivals,” she says. 
There are miniature motorbikes, Santa Claus, a violin, a sailing yacht, dreamcatchers, etc made using quilling, hanging on various corners of the store.
Driven by passion
Asha came into being a quilling artist by chance. She was earlier employed in an advertisement agency. Around a decade ago, she took up art as a hobby. It was just five years ago that  she decided to make it her career. 
Working on the last-minute patchworks of her latest three-month-long work, an 8-foot tall and 6-foot wide kathakali structure, Asha says, “I learnt it from YouTube. Then I did my own experiments using glass, canvas, fabric, and wood as the surface. Patience is the utmost factor to excel in the art. Most of my customers are youngsters. But their curiosity doesn’t extend to learning quilling. Most of them who train the art under me are retired hands and adults,” says Asha. She is creating an image of Bheema from the Kalyana Sougandhikam kathakali using more than 15 shades of colours and a total of 18,000 paper strips.
She says it is especially difficult to make portraits using quilling. I need to put more effort into getting the right shading and contrast of quilled papers to complete the image. “Every face has a different pattern and features. In painting, we can manage with colour shading but in quilling art, we have to stack the exact shaded folded colour papers to bring the complete look,” adds Asha.
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