Chennaiite recycles old jeans to make new notebooks

By Mohammed Rayaan Published on Jul 28, 2018 01:27 PM IST

Chennai: If you think recycling an old pair of jeans is impossible, you should meet Urusha Maher (23), a native of Surat and a resident of Chennai.

She grew up drawing arts as a hobby. "Give me a pen and paper and I can go on for hours," she says.

Urusha runs 'The Paper Dolphin' her stationery business in the city. She uses recycled materials to create her products.

What made her get into this craft? "I have been having a love affair with all things stationery since I was a kid," she says.

"On my birthday,  I'd prefer going to stores like Landmark. It just grew from a liking to a loving to an obsession."

Urusha narrates how 'The Paper Dolphin' began. "It started off as a favour for my friend. She had an old pair of jeans and asked me to make something with it. I made myself and her a notebook each. It had pockets where you could keep your phone, pens, etc. After we carried it to college, lots of people asked me where I got it from, and then I started taking orders."

Urusha talks about the process of creating her handcrafted notebooks. "We make two varieties. One is the denim covered notebook, which involves acquiring old jeans, getting the right sized books for them, and covering them strategically to fit the pockets," she explains.

"The other kind involves conceptualising and designing an illustration, printing the covers and getting it bound at the bindery."

They are the most time-consuming process of her craft. "I design the covers based on pop-culture inspiration, client requests and quotes," she says.

Urusha also reveals about the signature brown cover she uses for her notebooks.

"It is made of recycled cardboard. I discovered this material when I was doing my internship."

She also makes two styles of stationery gift boxes based on orders of customers: An artists box called 'Unbox' and a writer's box called 'Parabox'.

The latter focuses on writers and writing enthusiasts. It features writing material, prompts, inspiration and stationery. How does she find ideas for her products?

"My clients inspire me. Every one of them is an artist. Some people can't just physically produce art, that's where I come in," she says.

"I'm developing my own style currently, experimenting with bold illustrations, more on the surreal side, with a pop-art influenced colour palette."

Urusha tells about how her life has changed since starting 'The Paper Dolphin'.

"It has been a roller-coaster of an experience. I've met new people. New people means new collaborations. And through my clients, I've learnt so much about pop culture and trends, it's fun to keep up with them," she smiles.

"No one believes me when I say that watching TV shows and sitcoms is a part of my job."  She can be reached through her Instagram page @thepaperdolphin.