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Clay to Go: Ceramics

The not-so-known world of ceramics is a great career option for an artist, Prachi Parekh finds out

Remember the way you loved and excelled at clay modelling as a kid? Turn that talent and passion into a full-fledged career, if you love working with clay and have the flair for turning an earthen lump into a piece of art.

Basic requirements
A liking for clay is a must, as it is an untidy job involving messy hands, clothes, hair. A strong visualisation power is a must, as all you will have is a formless lump of clay and your drawings for inspiration. “Ceramics is a labour-oriented process. You need to be physically strong for this field,” says Sandeep Manchekar, a ceramics designer. Another important requirement is place, which every ceramic artist needs in order to work.

Course of action
Talent requires training to flourish. Various long-term and short-term courses are offered across India (see box). Once the course gets over, a student should work under a professional or apprentice at a studio to reach a professional level. Practicing is mandatory. “Please invest in a small test furnace and a wheel and keep practicing, otherwise you will never move ahead,” says Manchekar.

Where to get information?
Sites like (www.ceramicartsdaily.org) provide a lot of information. You can also chat with Indian and foreign artists for more insight. Delhi Blue Pottery, the only trust for potters in India, conducts regular workshops with professionals. Unfortunately, it does so only in Delhi. There are also various books available on ceramics.

Scope of Ceramics
“This field has a great career potential, as there are just a few competitors, high-end clients and good profit margins,” states Manchekar. Studio pottery is an alternative where you can work on an individual level and cater to high-end clients. Big hotels have a huge demand for customised ceramic work; provided you’ve reached that level of perfection and professionalism.

A beginner can start with mugs, diyas and statues of religious deities, etc. Other options include ceramic jewellery, which requires minimal space and low investment and makes for great business. There is a possibility for business abroad too, as Europe has big appreciation for handicrafts. Painting readymade ceramics is another option for painters.

Many IB schools like Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Pillai International School and Oberoi International School, etc, have introduced ceramics in their curriculum which opens the possibility of teaching ceramics as a career.

Scenario Today
“Ceramics is not mentioned even in orientations based on art, even though sculptures form an integral part of it,” laments Manchekar. Parents too, do not encourage ceramics as a career option. “They will spend lakhs for donations in medical schools, but not a few thousands for a furnace and wheel,” adds Manchekar. Moreover, there are hardly any facilities available for ceramic students, especially in Maharashtra. For example, unlike other states, there is no common facility centre for ceramic artists in Maharashtra. Lack of knowledge is the reason why very few opt for ceramics as a career option. Manchekar says, “Be prepared to slog and it will be at least five years before you reach a professional level.” Well, you have been warned and informed.

The Sir J. J. School of Art, Mumbai
L.S. Raheja, Mumbai
Shantiketan, Kolkata
Government College of Art, Kolkata
NID, Ahmedabad
MS University of Baroda, Baroda
Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
IDC, IIT, Mumbai
Indian Institute of Craft and Design (IICD), Jaipur
The Golden Bridge Pottery, Pondicherry
Andretta Pottery, Himachal Pradesh
Delhi Blue Pottery Trust, Delhi
Parivartan Pottery, Mumbai

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