Sunday, August 1, 2010

new work 2010

last october, 2009 i finished my second year at GBP and was wondering what i will do next to continue working. ray offered me not one, but two possibilities. one, to continue working at GBP as an artist-in-residence and second, to work on my piece, inspired by the harappan headdress in a bigger scale. i couldnt hv asked for more...
i had done one piece earlier in a bigger scale, coil built, and knew that it had survived the firing. so in the month of november i started working on the bigger headdress piece.
november is the monsoon season in pondicherry and it took me the longest to make the base. the base of the piece was nearly 36 inches and the wider i went i had to wait for longer for the clay to dry before i attached the next coil. even to walk inside the campus we were using raincoats! soon i realised that i can not attach more than two coils in a day, and that means i needed nearly half a month just to work on the base, i had only one month to finish the piece before i left for our anagama show in baroda. so i started going to the studio very early in the morning and staying till late evening and managed to attach two coils in a day as well as shape it.. and i started to work on two pieces at the same time so that i save time. once the base was done we moved them to ray's studio which was more dry than other places in the pottery.
the most difficult part of the building process was to imagine it in that scale and try to keep to the calculations, at the same time not loosing the elegance and keeping in mind that it is an organic shape and not geometric...
building the middle section was the fastest and once again when i came to the top part of the axe like head i had to go slow. the top most coil where its joined at the end is the fascinating moment. till then as am building the piece i could see th ground, but the top coil where i close the piece it felt like a whole lot of energy is trapped inside the piece , as if i am putting inside the piece whole lot of secrets and they are going to remain there forever...
once the making finishes it takes a solid time to make the surface even with a blade.. it took me exactly 34 days to make two pieces, without any sundays/holidays in the middle.
once i got back from baroda, after a month it was time to check for any cracks, there was one, not a deadly one so i used some paper clay to fill the crack. the pieces wwre drying beautifully. there was not much variation in drying from top to bottom, it was quiet even, which is good. end of jan i did the first round of bisque firing, a long 48 hrs of bisue. they survived. when i kiln opened i was waiting to tap on them to hear that wonderful sound which every potter waits to hear- a clear/ solid sound like a perfect ghatam tuned to the right pitch...
i knew what i wanted in terms of glaze. i had earlier done a trial piece and ray had liked the result. i was hoping to get the same results with the bigger pieces. i wanted the slip poured upside down, so that there is a flame like energy running up the piece. i discussed that with ray and i should confess i was worried sick about how to tilt the piece. ray looked cool, he called for iber and two others to help, soon there was a little army of professional lifters! we used many strips of sponge, bricks and a stool, the piece was tilted upside down and i poured the slip. ray said, the pour has to be done once, no hesitation, one bold stroke! i did that to the first piece, i was ok, when i worked on the second piece the pouring was perfect, by then my body had learnt how much to bend, how much to sway, how much not to extend, how much force do i need, how much slip do i need to take in the mug and how to visualise the pour mark.. the second one came much better.. half hour later i got a phone call from ray, who called me from a signal stop, and said "hey do u want to re do the pour for the first one?" just what i was contemplating...
although it meant so much more work, not just for me, now when i look back i feel it was totally worth it... after the pour marks i sprayed a glaze on top of it and we had to do the loading very carefully without touching any part of the piece.
we did a 17 hrs of glaze firing and the fire gave me back just what i wanted to see.
both worked in terms of glazing, one had a minor crack, but not a dangerous one technically, and we love these cracks which add to the beauty of the material..
now they are standing outside my workspace.
it actually feels like huge step into understanding the form, material and the process of ceramic work.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010


these pots will be going for the international tiger teapot show in shanghai, april 2010. i am looking forward for the event, my first visit to china!
this form, is in a sense is a continuation of my earlier "cat's cradle" shape. Watching my cats hunt has inspired this forms - the tense muscles before they leap on their prey and their acute sense of balance and flexibility. In these teapots I try to treat clay as the flesh, guiding the faceting in a certain direction to create movement; to keep the pots alive and moving.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


last three days i went on a road trip with jane perryman and eva marie. two potters. two wonderful human beings. two strong women. we had a great time and that made the trip very special.
one more reason which made the trip special and memorable was our visit to pudukotai and urpetti.
pudukotai to pazhanisami's village to see the place where they make the ayyanar horses and urpetti where the ayyanar shrine is surrounded by hundreds of terracotta life size horses... we had an overdose of temples. crowded and gaudy.
so when we entered the village of urpetti it was like a huge relief all of us felt. the roads kept winding and unwinding. rice fields to both sides. huge banyan trees all around. and not a single human being!
only a couple of monkeys.
and series of clay horses.
it was like being in a different time zone all together.
as if the outer world didnt exist.
ayyanar is supposed to come alive at night and ride these horses and protect the village. so whenever there is a crisis people offer the clay horse to the temple. so all you can see is a cluster of horses and some clay kalis, cows, dogs, madhurapullais (clay toys which look like babies, are offered if there is a sick child ) lying around...
on the way back we didnt even get down from our taxi to see more temples, we felt it would ruin the experience of being at urpetti.