Momtazbh Begum Hossain on Bollywood Crafts

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Bollywood Crafts celebrates the creativity and beauty of Bollywood. Each crafting project has been inspired by a Bollywood movie and can be made up by a novice or experienced crafter alike. The projects are fun and easy to follow, with clear simple instructions. It is one of the few books which has applied the theme of Bollywood to do achieve something truly unique. TAWP speaks to Momtazbh Begum, the crafter behind the projects… 

Who is your book aimed at?

Just like a traditional Bollywood movie, my book is aimed at the family audience. Its something that kids and adults can enjoy together. My publishers commissioned it on the grounds it would appeal to hippies in California, I don’t know what sales have been like in that part of the world but I can vouch that school teachers, parents and other creative people like it. Essentially the young and old can enjoy it, those who are new to crafting and established crafters will find it is good source of inspiration, and it will be enjoyed Bollywood fans too.

Why did you think that this would make a good book?

I could see there was a gap in the market to do something different and unique for crafts books. It’s so rare to get a ‘2 in 1’ book – I’ve since discovered that there are many people who love Bollywood and they love crafts too just like me!

How did you pitch your idea to your agent/publisher initially?

I took the theoretical route. I read the Writer & Artists Yearbook cover to cover and then made a list of the publishers that I thought would be interested in my book. I then sent them my proposal, I was rejected from seven publishers before The Guild of Mastercraftsman invited me to a meeting. They commissioned the book that day and within the week I was writing it.

Did you already have the designs or did you create them especially for the book?

Every project was an original design created especially for the book. My first task was selecting films that deserved to be included and once I’d made my mind up, I watched them all several times to get a good understanding of their individual styles and how I could take inspiration from them.

What made you draw that bridge between bollywood and crafting? What inspired you?

Bollywood and crafts and are my two biggest passions, so it seemed natural to bring them together for my first book as it’s always best to start with writing something you know about, mainly because if you love the subject matter it gives you greater motivation to do it.

I’m a huge Bollywood fan, I get really excited before I watch a new film, even though they are often criticised for being formulaic – I think Bollywood is very creative, particularly stylistically, the look and feel of a film from setting to the editing and choreography are professionally executed and all Western takes I’ve seen in trying to recreate Bollywood always pale in comparison.
I knew there wasn’t yet a book that looked at Bollywood from a stylistic point of view and so I created a book that is a celebration of the visual side of what Bollywood is about.

What is your personal favourite project in the book and why?

The vase inspired by the film Khabi Khushi Khabi Gham. It’s a boring glass vase from Ikea that’s been completely transformed into a stunning accessory for your living room and best off it’soo easy, I guarantee that anyone can make it. It’s cheap too and you don’t need to buy special materials. Most people could make it tonight if they had a spare vase, fabric scraps and some glue!

How did you ‘write up’ the projects, was that a difficult task?

I used to edit a crafts magazine and have contributed to several other magazines as a freelance writer so I was already used to writing instructions for how to make things. The main aspect to be aware of was making sure I was writing for the lay person and not using technical jargon so that people feel encouraged that they can have a go. I had to write in quite a visual way as I had to plan each of the step- by- step instruction photos, deciding when it would be appropriate and what it should show.

What does the future hold for you? Any plans to write another book?

Ultimately creative crafts is my passion and my mission is to bring crafts to the masses. I want to become the best known crafts expert in the UK so in that respect I want to write several more crafts books, and present my own crafts TV show. I’m currently spreading the word through teaching crafts workshops and passing on the skills and experience I have. One day I also want to open a crafts centre where anyone can just walk in off the street, spend an hour doing some relaxing sewing or knitting and then leave with a new item that they’ve made.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get published?

Be prepared to put in the hours, and remember that nothing happens over night. There’s a lot of frustration and things don’t always go the way you plan so just believe in your idea, if you think it will work then you can make it work. Also build a portfolio of published work, most publishers want to see that you’ve had other things published to show that you can write and deliver so whether it’s an article on a website or a piece in your local newspaper, it all helps.

Momtaz Begum-Hossain was born in London in 1980 and is a freelance writer and crafts expert. Her work has been published in a range of fanzines, newspapers, magazines and books. For more information please visit http://www.momtazbh.co.uk