Paper wizard to teach tricks in Mumbai workshop

Feb 25, 2018, 09:15 IST | Gitanjali Chandrasekharan

A paper wizard is here to teach you his tricks. So, let loose the child in you and cut out your favourite designs

A paper automaton that Bharadwaj has created the pop-out house that we tried a hand at. Pics/Ashish Raje
A paper automaton that Bharadwaj has created the pop-out house that we tried a hand at. Pics/Ashish Raje

There's a certain trepidation with which we ask Samir Bharadwaj: do you also make paper planes? After all, to a 38-year-old graphic and paper designer, whose body of work includes a pop-up hotel for a Dubai firm made according to architectural specifications, this might be an over simplification of his art. His answer, however, puts us at ease. At one point, he says, he could make 15 different types of paper planes from just memory.

A paper automaton that Bharadwaj has created the pop-out house that we tried a hand at. Pics/Ashish Raje

But, no, today (sadly) isn't about paper planes. It's much more than that. Bharadwaj, who has been practicing paper craft since he was three years old - he started with origami lessons from his father - is going to lead us through the basic steps of creating our very own pop-up. The artist, who moved to Mumbai last year, having spent much of his life in the Gulf, runs a website and Facebook page where he discusses the craft. Since last year, he has also been conducting workshops for adults with help from artiste manager Minjal Kadakia.

A paper automaton that Bharadwaj has created the pop-out house that we tried a hand at. Pics/Ashish Raje

"People see paper craft as something for kids to develop motor coordination. We don't see it as a sophisticated medium the way we see igh art," he says, even as he fishes out a paper automaton. It took him, he says, an hour to make that, but much more to design. Our pop-up, thankfully, is going to be much simpler.

Bharadwaj draws out a paper from the many that are inside his bag, placing it on the glass table in front of us. With quick movements, he draws a house - a classic one with slating roofs, French windows on the first floor and interestingly, only three windows on the ground floor (the pencil's nib broke one last frustrating time and we just let it be). "Most people who come into the workshop are afraid to draw, almost certain that they can't. So, to make the process comfortable for them, I just leave the cutting to them," he says.

He places a rubber mat beneath the paper, which we use as a cutting base. And our weapon for today is a scalpel pen that comes with its own warning - "don't press it too hard, else you may break the nib". Our instinct is to start from the outer edges, of course, but Bharadwaj who is carefully slicing through the windows, says it's best to work inside first. Cutting through the outside edges will increase the tension on the windows, making the paper weaker. There's more science to this than you'd have guessed. With the scalpel in our hand, we try slicing out the window. But, it takes quite a few tries to even get the 1 cm square box right. Practice helps, he assures us. The windows done, we then work on the doors and windows.

It takes altogether another skill to draw out the curves on the windows - hold the pen and move the wrist in a completely different fashion. Much concentration is required. "Another reason people like the workshop is because they are working with their hands, creating something and don't realise how time's gone by. It's two hours and they haven't touched their phone," he says. The walls are the last to pop out, and one is mildly better than at the beginning. Bharadwaj adds the last cut, and there, right in front of us is our first pop-up card: the house with a missing window.

To sign up for one of Bharadwaj's workshops, log on to the Papernautic website ( or follow him on Facebook (https://

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