Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Saundhi Mitti

While we are on the subject of pottery, I though I'll do a quick post on another bunch of extremely talented potters that I got introduced to today, thanks to a fellow blogger. So a big thank you to you Ruchira, for pointing me in the direction of Saundhi Mitti's facebook page!

Saundhi Mitti is a Delhi based studio pottery store set up by a bunch of extremely passionate potters.
Their work is clearly a class apart, not your run-of-the-mill stuff that most stores are overflowing with. And the colour palette of each and everything that they touch is absolutely delectable to say the least! So eat your heart out guys! I, for one, can't wait for my next trip to Delhi to get my hands on these glazed beauties.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Potter's Place...a secret that needs to be told.

Hi, I'm back from a weekend very well spent...kick started some civil work at the new house, caught the latest Bollywood flick, threw a 'house leaving' party for friends, did a little bit of shopping and had a girl's night out with another friend who is relocating. But what tops the list is definitely my trip to a pottery studio!

It all started with a call from my friend Lara on Saturday morning, asking me if I wanted to go along for an open house that was being held at a pottery studio on Sunday. I jumped at the opportunity and immediately logged on to my email to check the details that she had sent, and this is how the invite read...
"How about spending a Sunday under a Mango tree (full of new mangoes) or in the shade of coconut palms? Be in the quiet, cool ambiance away from the maddening crowd, be with yourself, and some clay in your hand, moulding a figurine, building a coiled pot, creating a Ganesha, or be on the potter's wheel churning out your first ever pot?"
I didn't need to read anymore. I was definitely going!

Potter's Place was set up by Shalan Dere, a self taught potter and ceramic artist, and what started out as a hobby has now turned into a full time passion at this studio cum gallery in Mahim. She loves working with the medium of clay for the malleability it offers, and she even mixes her own ingredients to make the clay as well as the glazes that go on it.

In order to popularise the art and let people experience first hand the joy of it, Shalan has recently started holding open houses. The session on Sunday was being held for architects and interior designers, so all the more reason why I wanted to go rub shoulders with the group along with Lara, who is a fabulous architect herself.

Equipped with a road map that we got from Shalan's website, we set off in Lara's little red car. It took us a while to find the small sign that read 'Potter's Place' and figure out the entrance to the studio that was tucked away in between two concrete buildings...and here I was, imagining that I would turn a corner and step into some sprawling mango orchard! What was I thinking?! This is the heart of Bombay after all!

However what did greet us was the most charming little garden wrapped around the building at the back and a rustic looking shed where two pottery wheels were spinning away merrily. I could immediately feel the creative energy of the place...

And then there was Shalan, charmingly dressed in a cotton sari and a very practical pair of sneakers! I couldn't help but smile. She was definitely the woman in charge, and you could see the passion in her eyes when she spoke about her work and bringing it closer to people who would appreciate it.

Every corner that you turn, you'll see pieces that have been created right here...
whether it's the hanging planters or the odd sculptures in the garden or broken pots that are lying around, they all added to the enchantment of the place.  

This was my first trip to a pottery studio, so I was obviously eager to soak in everything.
Shalan showed us the gas fired kiln where the ceramic was baked at extreme temperatures of 1170-1260 degree centigrade, for 10-12 hours! And that's not all...even before it goes into the kiln, the stuff has to be left to dry for 2-3 days in the summer or about 7-8 days in the monsoons. Glazing and colouring is a whole different story. I never realised that so much time and effort went into it!

After the tour, we got a chance to get our hands dirty! I tried 'hand building' which is basically shaping the clay using just hands. Lara took a shot at the wheel as well, but there were just too many people lining up for it so I think I'll have to go back one of these days to experience that in peace. I could just imagine myself sitting there for hours!

Once we were done messing around, coz there were definitely no great pieces of art coming, Shalan showed us her gallery on the ground floor. This is where she displays all her work. You can also purchase anything that catches your fancy...and that I'm a genius at!

Every nook and corner is overflowing with fantastic pieces of pottery in earthy shades of brown, green, blue, beige and cream. Her collection includes everything from tiles to trays, mirrors, platters, bowls, installations, furniture, wall art, door knobs etc. Plus she even takes custom orders, so if you have an imagination, she'll bring it to life.

And here's my pick of the day...two pots and a turtle :)

Hope you guys enjoyed this trip to Potter's Place with me.
If you live in Bombay, I recommend a visit to the studio gallery. It's a great way to spend your weekend, what's more you can even take your kids along! Shalan also holds regular workshops and exhibitions, so keep a track of their calendar if you are a 'clay enthusiast', as she would put it.

Potter's Place
Lt Dilip Gupte Rd, 
Mahim, Mumbai
Tel: +91 22 24463776, +91 22 24441259

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Bedtime Stories

I am somewhat of an insomniac. The fact that my husband can snore a thunderstorm to shame, does not help either. So often I turn to my late night companions, the ones made of paper with words on either side, in search of sleep. I usually avoid decor books coz they tend to have the effect of a double espresso shot on me, rather than that of a more desirable hot chocolate. However, last night I succumbed to temptation as I turned to one of my favourites...

If you read my previous post, you'll know that I am in the process of moving homes and my excitement knows no bounds. All I want to do is roll up my sleeves and dress up the new place. It has some great features, including a formal living room, a balcony and a third bedroom. If you have ever lived in a city like Bombay or New York, you'll realise what an absolute luxury that is! The extra room of course will be promptly converted into my play pen...'home office' may be a more familiar term for it, but I have recently developed an aversion to all things 'office', so bear with me. Did I forget to add that there is also a hallway that connects the living room to the rest of the apartment...imagine all the cool stuff one can do with a space like that!

So if you've been wanting to redecorate/ rearrange some stuff in your own house, read on...no pearls of wisdom, just certain basic things that we tend to forget.

Multi-purpose spaces
My new living room is a tad formal and completely different from the current L-shaped living-cum-dining. So my biggest challenge will be to incorporate the tackiness of a television and home theatre system into this space, without totally ruining its classiness! How does one make the room ideal for entertaining as well as comfortable for viewing television? 
Here's a good tip, start with a floor plan and go in order of priority:
1. Find the ideal spot for the big pieces first...the 3-seater, big coffee table, sideboards, bar etc.
2. Pick a vantage point for the television without making it the centre of attention. Have the option of moving things around for those movie nights/ match sessions when you do want to focus on the television. 
3. Do not sacrifice open spaces. Leave the path to the windows and balconies unobstructed.

Note to self: May be easier said than done...draw up floor plan asap. Use art work on the wall to bring together different spaces.

Big pieces that make an impact
Considering buying a new couch? I myself am looking for one that's comfortable, elegant and versatile. Seems like a tall order but here's what I'm thinking:
1. Get something with exposed legs...always more elegant than a fully upholstered couch.
2. Be smart about the upholstery. Linen or even fine jute is perfect as it can be both earthy as well as elegant.
3. Stick to a neutral shade and offset it with bright cushions and rugs. 
4. A deep seat and great cushioning for that all-important comfort factor.

Note to self: Consider re-upholstering the current couch on the above principles. 

Bedrooms that speak of you
The bedroom has got to be the most personal place in the house, the inner sanctuary where all outsiders are kept at bay. A sure shot way to enhance the mood would be to paint the walls a different colour...earthy shades if you want it cool and comforting, pastels for those seeking calm and quiet, or a splash of the sunny-side-up yellow, like above, to bring you cheer. Add to this a bunch of family picture frames and you've got yourself a space that's truly yours.

Note to self: A good spot to put up the family frames would be right above the headboard. Stick to a haphazard arrangement that allows for the collection to grow.

Be art conscious
I have often noticed that people put up pieces of art on their walls but pay little attention to how they display it. Not only is important to choose the right space, it's critical to nail it right! Alignment, height, spacing, juxtaposing the colours and frames can make or break the artwork itself. I for one, love asymmetrical arrangements...the far corner of a wall instead of the centre, a haphazard cluster instead of straight lines. Here's an example of how four different frames can be put together in a unique manner. I love how the four pieces are so distinct from each other but come together brilliantly because of the manner in which they have been displayed.

Note to self: Choose large pieces of art for the expansive walls. Look for unusual and striking ways to display it.

So go on then, re-arrange and have some fun!
PS - Do excuse the quality of images in this post as they have 
been taken from my phone, under the light of a bed side lamp.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Once Upon A Tea Time.... Design Stories: Home tour: Sahana in Mumbai

Thank you Priya for sharing my home with your readers and helping me expand my horizons in the blogging world. Had I known that making friends here was so easy, I'd have signed up for it long back :)
I am loving the fact that each new connection brings with it another bunch of super talented and fun people, after my own heart!
Once Upon A Tea Time.... Design Stories: Home tour: Sahana in Mumbai

Thursday, 14 April 2011

"Chor Machaye Shor!" - my guide to the eclectic 'Thieves Market' in Bombay.

I was reading somewhere that 'chor bazaar' (or, thieves market) in Bombay started about 150 years ago and was originally called 'shor bazaar' meaning a 'noisy market'. One would have hoped that things were quieter back then, but no such luck. Anyhow, then came the Brits who started mispronouncing 'shor' as 'chor'. Not only did the name stick, it must have also triggered new business ideas as stolen goods started making their way into the market, allowing it to live up to it's name!

Thankfully all that has changed (except the noise of course) and now it is simply India's largest flea market, offering a fascinating collection of antiques and vintage items. I am no authority on antiques but some stuff out there is so bizarre that there's no way anyone could have thought of them today! That said, you do have to look out for the occasional con job. It can be overwhelming for a first timer, but you can be rest assured that there are some absolute treasures buried in those deep, dark alleys.

It is one of my favourite markets and I never come away empty handed from there. So I highly recommend it to those of you who haven't had the pleasure of going there yet. In case you need a few pointers, here they are...

Tip No.1: Leave your watch at home. If you are planning a quick trip, let me assure you that you will miss out on the best of the stuff this place has to offer. You need at least half a day if you are like me, and want to leave no object untouched!

Tip No.2: Go with a friend, but choose wisely. Don't go along with people who do not enjoy peaking into cubbyholes and walking around endlessly in the dust and heat. If you yourself are that sort, may I recommend staying home with a glass of wine instead? If you're going with the husband, then I feel sorry for you.

Tip No.3: Look once, look twice, and then look again. The shops are stashed up to the ceiling and you will never be able to take in everything in one glace. There's always more than what the eye can see!

Tip No.4: Just because something looks like shit at first, does not mean that it cannot be turned into something priceless. If you like the basic form of it, just pull it out and observe it without the clutter around it. The shop keeper can always help restore it for you, at no extra cost, and it'll be as good as new or old, whichever way you prefer it.

Tip No.5: Ladies, cover up! It's a conservative Muslim area, besides you want to be able to go there and check out the shopkeeper's wares, and not vice versa.

Tip No.6: Bargain like crazy. I've tried everything from claiming that I'm still in college and my parents give me no pocket money (unfortunately I think the time has come to abandon that one) to pulling my wallet out and emptying it's contents in front of the shopkeeper, begging for a discount (make sure no crisp notes come tumbling out at this moment).

So put on a comfy pair of shoes and get started. Here's a sneak peak from my last trip, to give you a sense of what to expect. In case you want to see the full monty, click on Sahana's trip to CB

This is what a regular shop facade looks like...enter at your own risk! Just kidding ;)
Chairs stacked up against the wall...all they need is a good rub down and some  cane weaving
These lights may seem a bit ostentatious, but look closely and you will find a treasure or two
An old picnic basket. The lining is a bit frayed, but 'original' as the shopkeeper claims.
Get one of these for your study to file away those loose papers. Or just use it to keep knick-knacks/ craft items.
Colourful Ganesha masks for your walls
A miniature piano...completely out of tune but I guess you could say it works!
Yes, we all love Fridays!
A Coke flask that can become a kitschy water dispenser in your kitchen
Purple! For the bold & the beautiful
One of the best shops for old movie posters and ads
These can become funky measuring cups for the times when you're baking/ cooking...or just something to pep up your kitchen!
Spoons for all occasions
Railway clocks are just the best for spots that can be viewed from two sides...I have one between my dining and living areas
Here's my pick of the day! An old lounger that needs a little fixing, but will fit right into my new living room!

Location: Chor Bazaar, Mutton Street, between SV Patel and Maulana Shaukat Ali Road. 
Most taxi drivers know where it is, so the easiest way to find it is to hop on with a cabbie who knows!

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