Saturday, March 12, 2011

The need for revival

It was once the old canteen area. Roofed with bamboo sticks and plastic sheets, they say it can come down anytime. The eucalyptus tree shadowing it bends an inch every month. It is humbly seen as ‘The waste lab’- a filthy place infested with mosquitoes with the undying smell coming from the vats carrying the concentrated pulp. A tub was overloaded with waste papers and cartridges and another with rotten banana shoots soaked in water. It was indeed a refuge for anything that was supposedly considered ‘waste.’ And a haven for anyone who is interested in moulding out something from just anything.

Paper- making workshop was once active many years back before it became defunct and it was only in the month of January this year that a weeklong paper making workshop was conducted by Anupam Chakraborty, a paper maker from Kolkata. Clay work has also been going on here for two years and the place was revived by the students as there was no space in the campus where the workshop could be conducted. During the paper-making workshop, students learnt the very basics of paper-making and were introduced to techniques of stenciling, water marks and layering. Paper is made from materials like cotton rags, jute bags, denim, onion peel, banana shoots and fibrous plants like carrot. The pulp is made in the blender called ‘Hollander beater’ after the materials are soaked for one or two days. The pulp is then stored in huge wooden vessels known as vats for few days. The concentrated pulp is taken out through deckle- a tightened sieve and spread on to wet cloth.

Easy it may sound, but it’s a laborious process and consumes a lot of time. Also the paper has to serve its primary function that is whether it is printable or not. Paper made with certain materials does not serve this purpose well but the use of dried leaves and threads for texturing, patchwork and paper cast form POP mould adds to the aesthetics part.

During Ganesh Chaturthi, final year architecture students came up with the concept of ‘Biodegradable Ganesh.’ Heaps of newspapers and used fabrics were collected for the purpose in the campus. It was a step taken in making Ahmedabad a greener place where Ganesh idols are mostly made out of POP and sold in large numbers. Also they would be making certificates for convocation next year. So far they’ve made paper boxes for ‘bhu:sattva,’ a garment company making organic fabrics and visiting cards for several others.

The students are passionately carrying forward their learning by themselves and making a difference by sensitizing other students in the campus. The festivals are celebrated with much vigour than before as newer ideas in keeping the campus clean and green are transforming the way people think.

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