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.


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

12 comments:

  1. loved your post. Studio pottery is my first love and your post made my monday morning. I came across your blog via OUATT and loving every bit of my stay here!

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  2. Awesome post, soaked up every bit of info here. I too tried hand building techniques at a nearby pottery studio and enjoyed the process. I loved the last image - seater with real life figurines on it.

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  3. That settles it! I'm signing up for the very next pottery class that I can---I've been dying to try my hand at it for like ever.

    Thanks for the tour!

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  4. lovely trip to the potters studio.Even i have been to a blue pottery studio in sanganer in rajasthan..Read celebrations decor for the details if you have some spare time.
    lakshmi

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  5. All I can say is....'How I wish that I was in Bombay'.

    Loved your post...I am passionate about pottery and have tried hand building....would love to try my hand at the wheel someday. Thanks for sharing your experience Sahana.

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  6. Check out facebook.com/saundhi :-)

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  7. Hey Sahana...your hyperlink in the last paragraph of your blog to Potters Place is corrupted. i think the page has been hacked..you'll need to remove the link. :-(
    Loved the photos!

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  8. Tampha, thanks a lot! I have removed the links and given the contact details instead. Don't know how it happened! My first experience with the weirdos in the cyber world :(

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  9. Ruch, thanks for sharing the link to Saundhi...they've got some fab stuff! :)

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  10. Lovely post Sahana,
    ...and to add pottery on the wheel, is a perfect stress reliever. you get rid of the hard knots and also get a beautiful object to take home

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  11. i have done a short weekend course in hand pottery at shalan's and it was worth every minute spent! the lady, the place and the stuff we work with are all outa this world! am going back for more soon....

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  12. What a wonderful experience it must have been. Loved it and was wondering how come I was not following you :-)

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