HE was sitting on a brick with a half cigarette bud in one hand and a gray feather in another when I first saw him. He struck me as a rather interesting fellow as I got to know Hasan Ameen, who is in the same department as I am and a very good friend of mine. With passing time we became best friends and I got to know that he is not only a brilliant student, but he also holds some very rare qualities. And today I sit to write
about him not because he is a good friend, but because there was something interesting about the way he was trying to draw outlines and later created an unusual drawing with that gray little feather. He never fails to amaze us with his bizarre ideas in making a diary with a bird skull or bamboo sticks, or something we'll probably throw away from our drawers.
What inspires you?
Hasan: As far as I remember I was always breaking up all my toys as a kid. Not really my fault there for such behavior, we all wanted to be like MacGuiver, with trying to fix the phone by pretending that it was broken and wanting to try and turn it into a walkie-talkie, and ending up getting a good spanking for breaking something that was already in working order. I attacked my uncle's stash of thrown away audio tapes and their cases. The audio tapes I don't remember what I did with them. except that I used to see the tape ribbons fly in the wind as I threw them off my roof, catching onto trees and falling to the ground on my uncle's porch, messing up the place. The plastic cases, I remember, were the material I worked with along with a knife as my tool. The kitchen was my workshop. The stove my other tool. In went the knife into the fire till it became red hot. Then I'd use it to cut the plastic cases in what ever shape my heart desired.
That was, I guess the beginning of it. My inspiration actually came from watching people at construction. Not just the bricklayers, but the carpenters, the sanitary construction workers, the welders, the electricians, all of them. The neighborhood I have grown up in has been under re-construction for more than a decade and a half now. As I grew up in this place, the construction sites had been our ‘commando training grounds’. While each one of us played together in these sites, trying to go through mazes (dug out foundations) trying to escape captivity I used to spend a little more time watching the workers at work and observe what they were doing. All the materials they were working with, and how they took shape and all.
The next step was mathematics in school. It was my favorite subject. I loved measuring anything, and everything. Then came along physics and its principles. Studying physics made me much more observant, and thus I started to speculate at how everything worked.
Last but not least, nature has been what inspired me the most as I try and use everything that comes from nature in one form or the other to make what I make with my hands.
Your ideas seem so out of the box. How do you come up with them?
Hasan: Wants arise from the illusion of needs. I need something that can hold my papers together in an organized fashion. Note the use of the word fashion. That's the want. So I always keep in mind that whatever I make needs to be functional and it needs to look good on same level of importance.
Basic ideas come from the materials at hand too. I love working with textures, and try to find ways in my head my sketch book on how different materials of different textures would fit in together. I am not too good with colors and that's why all the things that I have made so far all have a raw look to them, as I try and let the textures speak out.
Geometry on the other hand is very important to my craft. I love and find it most comfortable working with defined shapes that can be used to depict evolution in perspectives.
This hobby of yours seems pretty time consuming. How do you manage?
Hasan: I personally believe in finishing whatever I start in one go. The longest that I have spent on making anything in one go is 18 hours. Not an exaggeration, as with proper tools the same thing wouldn't take me more than 5 hours in one sitting.
The time factor actually depends on what material I am using and what I am making. Leather takes the most time, as I believe in sewing it if I have to attach it to something. Otherwise, bamboo takes the least amount of time to work with.
Would you say this distracts you from your studies?
Hasan: This is my hobby. Hobbies are meant to stay in their place and studies in their own. Finding a balance of doing both is the key. No, this is not a reason for my studies to be hampered.
What do you have in mind for the future for your creations?
Hasan: For personal gain I would like to get a masters degree on creative crafts, if these are good enough to get me admission into a college. Otherwise there is no other future for this for myself. Simply, I love making these things; they bring peace to my mind.
And recently I figured that if I can sell some of my crafts, it would get me some more resources to start some thing new and more “unusual”.
Do you have any handy tips for the readers who have similar interests?
Hasan: Get proper tools to do your stuff. And if that's not possible, learn to improvise with what you have. For instance, to cut out a complicated shape on wood its not possible to cut it out with a saw unless it's a table mechanical saw. Those things cost huge! So what I do is draw the shape on wood, and then make consecutive holes along the outline of the shape.
Then using a chisel and hammer cut the piece out. Lastly I use sand paper to smoothen out the edges. Bending wood? Soak it in boiling water, for time depending on the thickness. Put a little muscle into it to bend it into the shape desired and holding it in that position for quiet a while. Learn how to do knots. They are very important.