Born and brought up in Delhi, I started my journey with not really knowing what I’d like to be or do in life. I knew I wasn’t alone and was convinced this was the way of life. So obviously, I didn’t stick to one vocation. From being a commerce graduate, to wanting to become a professional dancer, to working for an advertising firm, to just making lamps out of wood and acrylic and selling them, I finally settled for interior design.
After doing a two year diploma and then working for two years in the field (being settled in Bombay now), I received a phone call from my closest friend in Delhi, suggesting a change in career for both of us.
I laughed at the idea, even though I wasn’t really content or satisfied with my current profession but knowing such is life, it had no effect on me. It was due to her persistent calls and the idea of learning pottery in Auroville – a beautiful town just next to Pondicherry where we first saw pottery studios – that made me decide to go for it.
We both saved some money and were serving our notice period to leave for Auroville in a month, when to my surprise, my friend had a change of mind and it dawned on me that I was on my own. It took me another month and another friend to convince me to take the plunge and see what happens. I’m grateful to the decision I made or I’m sure I would’ve looked back and wondered what if…
I packed my bags and went to Auroville, only to realise that none of the potters were interested in teaching or mentoring a student. It didn’t seem like a good idea to leave my steady job any more. After a little persistence, one of the senior potters agreed to help me out by educating me about Andretta Pottery situated in a small village in Himachal Pradesh.
So I headed over to this postcard village called Andretta with the Dhauladhar range of Himalayas as its backdrop. The pottery studio was in the midst of this heavenly beauty; with the view of the mountains covered in snow and a little stream of water running right beside it.
The pottery is run by Mansimran ‘Mini’ Singh, son of famous potter Gurcharan Singh. With the dawn of the first day, I lay my hands on the clay on the wheel. It took me less than a minute to realise that throwing pots – that is, making/pulling a pot on the wheel – was no piece of cake.
It took me nearly a month with six days a week and seven hours a day of learning to centre a lump of clay, which means to be able to just handle the clay and keep it at the absolute centre of the wheel.
I’d known for some time now that it’s not going be an easy three months. There were times that I was sure this was not for me and I’d cry thinking I have taken the wrong decision. But the thought of creating a pot out of just a lump of clay inspired me to not give up; I was creating something out of nothing.
I saw every person around me make pots after pots with such ease and so I pushed myself every day to keep making the effort and not give up (even though the thought didn’t leave my mind). It was only after continuous practice for days, that by the end of the third month and end of the course, my hands could throw pots of shapes and sizes I’d only dreamt of.
It was only after that I learnt how the clay used to control me and not the other way round. The clay is just like us in many ways and cannot be just turned around without its consent; the clay gets tired too and you need to let it rest for it to be ready to use all over again.
Learning pottery is all about acquainting yourself with clay, understanding it and shaping it as you want. As the wheel turns, your thoughts go away and you simply stare in silence, looking in wonder at the spinning wheel, as if something’s coming out of nothing. It truly is meditative.
I was no longer afraid and had no doubts any longer. I knew I’m going to be a potter. I came back to Delhi, learnt and practised under another great potter, Mrs. Rachna Parasher for one year, set up my studio (garage turned into a studio) right next to my house, started working and am a Studio Potter now.
I also had an opportunity to work with some international potters at Eltorn in Barcelona, for a period of six months that helped me learn new skills to complete the same tasks in many different ways. I was fortunate enough to be able to exhibit my work too in a festival among fellow potters there.
My studio is called The Mudslingers. You’ll often find me at exhibitions and festivals or just mudslinging with some students in my studio. All my pots are handmade on the potter’s wheel, with stoneware clay. The designs are hand etched and the pots see the firing kiln twice before they find their way outside the studio, with their entirely unique glaze textures and colour patterns. They are all food grade, microwave, oven and dishwasher safe.
I plan to tie up with some stores and take part in more festivals around the country in the future but for the time being, to buy or know more about my work find The Mudslingers on Facebook or shoot me an email.
Text By Megha Rawat