Monday, 24 August 2015

Pottery School - Delhi Blue Pottery Trust

I was always fascinated by pottery, so I decided to finally learn it a few days back. A friend's friend had done a course from Delhi's famous pottery school situated at Delhi Blue Apartments near Safdarjung Hospital next to AIIMS Trauma Center.

 I spoke to them over the phone, it was a beginner's six months course and you could pay the fees in two installments. The moment I went to register I was taken in by the beautifully crafted things that were all over the place. I could hear Jagjit Singh ghazals in the background. Rajesh Srivastav, the instructor, talented ceramic artist himself, (from BHU) took the fees and gave the schedule (two days a week,three hour long class), along with a copy of book on Pottery, published by Delhi Blue Pottery Trust. He keeps a keen eye on everyone's wheels and answers/ explains patiently all the questions by the students often with a humorous quip!  

Once, I joined I was asked to make masks (as my joining co-incided with Mask making workshop) which meant working with the mud but no wheel, and giving it different facial shapes. By the time I made my third mask, it came out well, on which some improvements were done by Rajesh ji, with an interesting remark, "art is flawed, it should not be perfect." 

The next week started with understanding and knowing the craft of pottery. I was asked to "knead the dough" properly. Then came the wheel. The dough, finely rounded after kneading, goes on the wheel (electric wheel). It has to be centered on the wheel, setting the speed of the wheel is important while making peaks or plateaus of the mitti on the wheel. It is a beautiful process, where you keep adding water, and see how the touch of different fingers shapes it differently. Once learner finishes in the stipulated time of three hours, another ten minutes are dedicated to cleaning the wheel so that next learner can start on it, without the fuss of cleaning. 

 The afternoon tea is the time when everybody gathers together, chats, share stories or just plain gossip at times, mostly with Rajesh ji who is sometimes joined by the other instructor, Preeti ji.
The seniors who have been learning here, ranging from one to two plus years, are usually very helpful with tips (Three years is when you graduate out of the school). The students can buy their creations at nominal rates (based on the measurement in weight of the object). My class is an all-women class (ordinary men do not learn pottery it seems, delicate art modern men cannot handle the required patience for the craft!). But, those men who do come to learn turn out to be fast and better learners, according to Rajesh ji.

One has to carry an apron for the class, as whatever one wears gets soiled by the mud. I heard interesting stories on how girls come all nicely dressed but after a week, start coming in rough clothes. Even with an apron, clothes do get spoiled. But, nobody bothers about the clothes as sitting on the wheel can take you on a journey of another world, as mud through your fingers takes different and beautiful shapes. 

It is an extremely therapeutic craft in today's stressful lives. One understands how mitti can be a metaphor for our lives. On the circle (wheel) of life, if the center (basics/core) is not strong the shape will not come out well. The touch of different fingers (circumstances) changes the shape of vessel. But, it is only when it goes into the furnace that it becomes strong!

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