Meditative for some, hobby for others, livelihood for select few and a revival moto for still fewer- Has pottery paved its way back to India 2020 after a brief break?

Well, it surely has!

Be it Rajasthan’s Molela Murtikala, Karnataka’s Bidriware, West Bengal’s terracotta pottery or Gujarat’s Khavda pottery, the history of pottery can be traced back to the dawn of human civilization. Created by moulding a shape which is later heated at high temperatures for the hardening and setting of shape, the process of pottery consists of six processes including sourcing, crushing, mixing, kneading, potter’s wheel and firing.

There is something magical and romantic about handmade pottery. It’s a vision of a potter sitting at a spinning wheel, fully absorbed to create something that will be loved and cherished for as long as one can remember. Expressing her love for the art, Veena Chandran, Founder – Veena Chandran Ceramics, Pune shared “I started my life in ceramics as a wood firer, where I fell in love with the aesthetics of wood firing and all its beauty. When I set up my studio in Pune, I didn’t have an option of having a wood kiln and had to make a shift to gas fire ceramics. Over a period of time I realised that it was going to be impossible and that I had to create my design aesthetics to work best with the kind of kiln and firing technique I was using. This led me to experiment and develop my own glazes (or colour palette). That’s the one secret that allows my work to stand apart. I also love texture and variations on surface and work towards building these into the ceramics. All glazes used have been made and developed in my studio and thus is different from mass made ceramic work you would otherwise find around.”

Having travelled in time, our minds are still immersed in the most treasured memories we have of this age-old craft. Right from shopping for earthen pots during scorching summers, attending pot making workshops as a child, having tea in those handmade mitti ke kulhads and buying beautiful diyas for Diwali.

The Change…

As technology flourishes, this ancient craft has snooped out of the rural nook and corners to the cities. Ceramic art has gone from being an indigenous craft to a decorative artefact to a statement-making utility. Today it is finally being recognized for its creative and utilitarian potential. Evolved in its form and design, this Indian art has seamlessly forayed into home decor, fashion and jewellery alike and gained popularity among the urban crowd and the elite class. With sustainable and mindful living becoming the norm, more and more people are becoming about what they consume and, in a way, waking up to the charms of pottery.

Artists and artisans working with ceramics have steadily contributed to the evolution of this dying craft. Deeksha Gupta, Founder – Clay Botik, Jaipur talking about her journey in the ceramic industry expressed “After having worked internationally, I was looking for an opportunity to unleash my artistic skills. I spent most of my creative time with world art enthusiasts to create meaningful artefacts. Back then, Clay Botik was just a hub for pottery workshop with international tourists learning and experimenting with the art. Today, we have come a long way in establishing a fully functional studio in Jaipur. Starting from the marvellous eye-catching collection of handmade ceramic dinnerware sets, bright hued handmade ceramic mugs, platters and ceramic bowls, we design fine handcrafted accessories and functional ceramic pieces that splash a sense of uniqueness to your table setting.”

Has ceramic kitchenware replaced bone china sets?

It would be strange to deny that they have not. Aesthetically pleasing, contemporary in design, varied in texture and available in modern colour palette, the ceramic-ware has changed the way serve ware in India is seen and perceived.

Veena Chandran, shares her insights on the popularity of ceramics as she comments, “There has been a sudden surge in ceramics lately, especially with Reality Cookery shows on TV and Food Blogging Instagram channels flourishing. Many people have started to understand the need of ceramics in a myriad of deco. The process of respecting the material and using it in their daily lives has also surged. The tastemakers currently include ceramics in almost all of their tableware; it has even started seeping in upper middle class households also, more because of retail initiatives and easy accessibility to buy these products. Right from your morning cup of coffee to the generous and healthy salad bowl, ceramics are making their presence over glassware and polyethylene tableware.”

There was a time when possessing beautiful bone china tea sets and glass dinnerware was found to be the marker of wealth. They were taken out of the shelves only for hosting guests and creating an impression. Its only recently that people have become inquisitive of what’s new in serve ware that ceramics have gone to become the “IT” thing.

Foreseeing the future of ceramic-ware, Deeksha Gupta shares “Thanks to the intersection of pottery customization, marketing and affordability, more and more people are catching up to custom-design items, like branded coffee mugs. From corporations and non-profit organisation to museums, monuments and the event industry, everyone wants to take advantage of the many benefits a custom-designed mug offers, making it a hot-selling item for pottery companies around the world”.

Before the festive season kickstarts, you can add in a set or two for your dinner parties and hi-tea soirees. Who doesn’t love fine ceramic crockery and conversational starter ceramic artefacts ?