Arriving at Art Works studio in Madhyapur, Thimi for my first pottery lesson, I expected to have some messy fun. But like many people, I also thought it was something I'd only do regularly if I had access to an elaborate studio. The workshop, organised by Art Works, funded by BP Koirala India-Nepal Foundation and taught by Santosh Kumar from the Delhi Blue Pottery Trust all through this month, was an eye-opener.
To start with, we played with small pieces of clay. It didn't make any sense initially, but the more I rolled and kneaded the sensuous clay, the better I felt. The tension and knots in my shoulders and back slowly started subsiding, and I felt truly relaxed.
Kumar eased us into coil work-making thin lines of clay that resemble breadsticks. You don't need a potters' wheel for this-basic knives, spoons, and sponges do the trick. We rolled the clay with the fleshy part of our palms. You gently press and roll, press and roll the soft, smooth clay until the coil becomes longer and of uniform thinness. You then make a flat spiral, stick that to the base of a small mould and work your way up the sides, covering the surface evenly. Later the clay is smoothed over with a wet sponge. Once the work dries up, the mould is overturned and you realise you've made a pretty bowl.
PICS: MIN BAJRACHARYA
Beginners need to watch out for hairline cracks in the dried clay, and repair them fast by moistening the clay and gently evening out the surface with a knife or a spoon.
We'll soon be learning to work the wheel and fire our bowls and vases, which we will then paint over and glaze. It is indeed 'fun', but it's also strangely meditative and restful. You slowly learn patience and that creativity needs space to happen.