Author Spotlight: Tarun Upadhyaya
Even if you don't recognize the name, if you have spent any time on this site, you have probably seen some projects posted by Tarun Upadhyaya. He is well known for his unique and creativelamps that transform household materials into works of art, but he has also shared his expertise in everything from gardening to jewelry making to paracord. I was lucky enough to get to interview him about his early start making lamps, favorite projects, and Instructables philosophy.
When did you first start making things? What was your first project?
I started making things very early, I guess I was 8 years old. I was always fascinated by lights. The star shaped lights during Diwali and Christmas always amazed me. I guess if I remember correctly my first project when I was in 4th grade. It was a lantern for Diwali that I made, using an old shoe box and punching lots of holes in it using a pencil. I had always loved to make things. In my 7th grade summer workshop for kids craft I learned to make a paper ball which I later transformed to this paper lamp. I have made hundreds of them. Friends, relatives, everyone used to bring me stuff to make one for them. Since then lights never ceased to amaze me, I find it blissful to see a beautiful lights. That’s why I have made so many Instructables for making many types of lamps.
How did you find Instructables and what made you start posting projects?
I took a break from my 12 year career as a software architect at the end of the year in 2012. I earned everything during this period but kind of lost myself. I thought I was missing something which I used to do, which makes me happy and, that was being creative. I was also going through a hard phase of my life and needed something to keep my sanity in place, so I took charge of decorating my home interior and garden (there was no garden then, just few pothos plant) in DIY way. I started looking on the internet for terrace/indoor gardening ideas and then I found the indoor gardening ebook. I was so happy to see the ideas in the guide that I actually spent $39 (plus tax!) using my Indian credit card to become a pro member so that I could download this ebook as EPUB. Honestly that $39 was one of the best investments I ever made.
Later on I became a regular but silent visitor of the site. During Valentine’s Day 2013 I came up with the idea of making this Valentine Heartland lamp and I also came across the Valentine’s day contest. You can say love inspired me to make this lamp as well as to post it on Instructables. During early years of my career I used to train people for Microsoft Certifications and had designed courseware. Teaching made me feel very contended. By posting an I'ble I get the same feeling.
My pothos plants in moss sticks, they green ones are around 18 years old, nourished only with water
Of the projects that you have posted on Instructables, what has been your favorite project and why?
Oh dear!! This is a tough one. It is actually very difficult to say which one is my favourite because I love them all, but if there is one I can choose that would be this cardboard pendant lamp Why? Because of this little story:
When authors of Instructables mention tools like X-acto knives, cutting mats, and duct tape in their projects I felt miserable because I did not have those tools. The prizes motivated me to submit this project but since I was very late in the game I had no confidence at all that I stand any chance among 226 entries from around the world. To my biggest surprise I won the contest and got what I craved. Thus making this I'ble my favourite one.
On the other hand, are there any projects you've made that will never see the light of Instructables?
Yes there are a few projects which I had made outside Instructables but again the credit for them goes to Instructables because my Instructable profile opened the doors of opportunity for me in other places.
I was invited by an award winning home décor and interior designing Indian blog to make and write exclusive post for them as a paid guest author. I wrote a few posts for them. You can imagine why I could not post these here, sadly.
When my friend saw the lamps made of bamboo mats, she introduced me to a local 3-day handicraft fair. I participated in it and made several of them with some variations and guess what? I was sold out on second day! It was the festive season of Diwali and my lamps became so popular that I received many orders later; one of the branches of HSBC bank in my locality actually gifted all their employees with my lamps on Diwali. This was the time when I was not very regular on Instructables, I was totally caught up with one man army sort of thing.
You dabble in so many different types of projects - what are your favorite projects to do?
I was really hoping that you ask this question!
Lamps and lightings! I can never make enough of them. Although these days I spent quite some tying knots using paracord and jewelry too. You wouldn't believe me if I told you that before I came across Instructables I had never heard of paracord or made any jewelry.
But I am really not sure what may interest me in the future. Maybe crocheting or maybe Arduino, could be anything.
You are very prolific and have posted a wide variety of projects! How do you keep coming up with fresh ideas?
Sometime back in this 3-in-1 Sea Shell earrings Instructable I had written this quote "Creativity is contagious and inspiration is omnipresent."
I am more of a thinker than a doer, I am always thinking. I think even in my sleep. There was a time when I actually had to take medication to stop this because I was not able to sleep for days. I observe things and their details, I do that a lot. I feel like my eyes and brain are scanning every object in my sight like an AI enabled cyborg. As a side effect to that I observe bad things too and that’s when people say "How come you only see such silly things and not us?"
Somewhere between thinking and observing I get inspiration, a lot of it, so much that I sometimes feel sad when I am not able to turn that inspiration into something tangible. I try new stuff and if I get success I get more ideas which push me to make more. Did you notice that I recently posted a lot of paracordprojects?
"anything worth doing is worth over doing."
And I strongly believe that the creative side of my mind has become super active since the day I had joined Instructables. I had reclaimed the real me.
Instructables is my Yoga. It enlightens me.
Do you have any projects in the works that you can tell us about?
I want to make a wooden shelf, the design is already in my mind but I don’t have tools to start with so I am searching for a workshop where I can do it myself or can get the job done. I also have an idea of a hanging mirror frame. A couple of jewelry projects using paracord are also on the way. I have also listed out Indian food recipes which I am going to post sometime in future.
If you could give one piece of advice to all of the other authors on Instructables, what would it be?
Instructable is an awesome place of awesome people. I really don’t have an advice but here is what I think. When you are writing an Instructable, write it with all your heart, take pictures like they will be featured on time magazine cover, include details like you want generations to use them. Don’t just write for contests, write for the reader, write for yourself.
Your Instructable is your communication and communication should be as intended.
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