Amal Sanal, a 25-year-old Hotel Management Graduate from Kerala, is well-known as the ‘Recycling Artist’ since 2015. Being engaged in the area of ‘Arts and Crafts’ have always been his passion. During a #VoLocals interview with News Aur Chai’s Feba M. Abraham, Amal made one thing crystal clear, he was a highly determined, desirous of crushing the society’s stereotype that men cannot get into ‘Crafts and Designs’.
Amal first turned his interest into reality by converting the usual waste materials into refined products. He is known for using waste materials as his raw materials. When this is an excellent initiative to be eco-friendly, his works were usually termed as being ‘weird’. But did that stop his enthusiasm? No! He got all the more motivated to keep on continuing with this interest of his as it gave him happiness and satisfaction.
While being in Bangalore back in 2015 for his Hotel Industrial Training, he had received a ‘mini sewing machine’ as a birthday gift from his friends, since they saw him making a beautiful doormat out of an old saree which he had earlier found while shifting. That was the turning point where his work started getting appreciation!
After receiving the ‘mini sewing machine’, he learnt the art of operating it and stitching from YouTube videos. “I had around three useless jeans lying around and I thought of making a bag out of it. I sewed a side bag with zipper which was one of the great things I ever did!,” exclaimed Amal. “This bag was a huge surprise for my friends and they urged me to post it on Facebook,” he adds. Even when he was not keen on using social media, he uploaded the images and was well appreciated.
The news about his handmade products starting spreading in Facebook and, one day, a lady approached him from a Bangalore-based Facebook group, who wanted one of her Kurtis to be turned into something useful. He converted the Kurti into a bag, which was posted on Facebook and soon, he started getting several orders in the same line.
He used to make good sales through Facebook with various Bangaloreans couriering their old tops and shirts. This became a good source of additional income for him. However, he could not concentrate on it after moving to Kerala post his training period in 2016. His creativity did not receive the full support from his family. He lost his original customer base, primarily due to the high shipping charges. Though a Keralite his schooling was outside Kerala as his father was a former military officer who passed away in 2017, after which all the responsibility of taking care of the family came to Amal.
Initially, he kept himself occupied in the hotel industry. He slowly got motivated to continue his interest from his self-built customers, for whom he used to gift his products during their birthdays and anniversaries. This gradually became a part of his daily activity.
He is well appreciated for creating the ‘Dream Catcher’, about which he came to know after visiting one of his friends’ home. Even though he was told that it was hard to make and it is not highly recommended to have a dream catcher in one’s house, he went on to create his first one. His rates were reasonable, and he did not fail to add the element of ‘recycling’ here too. He has sold nearly 350+ ‘Dream Catchers’ till date, and all of them are customized.
To add the element of ‘recycling’, he had to go to several poultry farms to get some good feathers, which he then used to dye with colours.
On turning his attention to local shops, “Shopkeepers used to be sceptical whenever they saw me buying the feathers,” he recalled. “I used to go there around 2-3 times, and each time they will ask “What will you do with these things?”. One shopkeeper had enough on seeing me begging for feathers that he gave me the badminton cock’s feathers!,” Amal laughed. Now, the shopkeepers are reassured, and they know what I am explicitly expecting from them. One must be cautious while handling a dream catcher.
Later on, he created his own Facebook page and an Instagram business account and named his business as “amsham_handmade“, which was a unique name in his sight.
Right from the beginning, he had set reasonable prices for all his products. He slowly started making ‘gorgeous’ jewellery which increased in demand. “The wire Jewellery, which is made out of old cable wire, is the one which gave me the highest level of satisfaction.”
Till date, he has made about five international orders for another one of his handmade jewellery, the ‘Gungroo Choker’, as the ‘King’ of his jewellery set. He did not fail to add the element of ‘recycling’ here too, by making use of old fabric trimming.
He started conducting online crafts workshops, and it helped him discover his teaching capability. The students consist of different age group from children to older adults.
Recently, on visiting his aunt’s home, he found that she was having a great collection of old sarees. Surprisingly, his young niece loved the sarees, and this made him stitch dresses for her out of these old sarees. He created clothing like wrap-around skirt, flared umbrella skirt, wrap pants, a dress out of her dad’s shirt, boxer shorts out of shirts, along with the support of his dear aunt, for his niece.
“The Bharatanatyam costume for my niece was the toughest thing that I ever did.” He gave his best and was very happy with the outcome of uploading his work in the social media accounts.
He, along with his friend, then went on to start a website, with the name, “amshamhandmade.in“. Here, he wanted to give artists like him, the opportunity to list their products freely. He had also started a YouTube channel with the same name to upload the tutorials of making his products and everything is running smoothly.
He had gone to the extent of thinking to make recycled handbags, to reduce the usage of plastic. “I have always been so keen on recycling. There are so many things that we can add to our daily life in order to make recycling a form of art,” he said.
Although the pandemic is not something which Amal likes to recall, August was a colourful month for him. He even made a hair oil, and that also came into demand! This guy looks like he is not willing to let any material slip out of his hands! During the interview, he mentioned that, “Each one of us has a passion which we must pursue. The society and its ideas should not stop us from pursuing what we like. Living in a society which has the stigma that men should not get into the field of Arts and Crafts is definitely a challenge which I want to break.”
Amal though still continues to work in the hotel industry, his passion for creative craftwork keeps him going in the track of recycling and creating exceptionally good products out of litters. Moreover, this is an extra earning for him and he wants to explore more in this area.
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