So there we were, on a pottery course in the mountains with no personal conveyance and a fair few kilometers between our cottage and the closest town, Fatehpur.
Our favourite activity instantly became the tranquil, scenic walk on a narrowly paved path from our rented cottage, through the village fields, past the village and then along the main road, which opens up to a majestic view of the Dhauladhar mountain range (outer Himalayas). Divya, the potter had thoughtfully recommended our “home” for the weeklong stay. It sits amid paddy fields, starkly removed from most civilization, providing an invigorating experience through the sights and sounds of nature. We spent a considerable amount of time sitting on the veranda; reading, painting, photographing, talking – that is, when we weren’t trudging up the hill to gorge on the delicious momo’s we discovered by the Norbulingka institute.
The Talking Clay Studio itself is a peaceful, cosy and well-furnished space with electric wheels, an electric kiln, a glaze room and a kitchen for that all important cup of tea. Divya was very helpful and forthcoming with her knowledge and experience as a potter. We were curious to learn of the Indian studio potter – their daily studio based lives, the struggles and limitations, how they do things and how they experiment. It felt good to get acquainted.
This was Yannick’s first real experience with clay. On the Beginners course a hand-building technique was taught daily with the opportunity to create an object or two of choice with the newly acquired knowledge. Day 5 and 6 were an introduction on the wheel, spent learning to centre. To conclude, the pieces were self-glazed with the help of some glazing instruction. Divya fortunately, has a lovely palette of glazes to pick from. Glazing turned out to be the most interesting aspect; especially as the glaze was applied directly to the bone dried ware and fired only once. We waited in anticipation of what was to come, Yannick smiling with childlike excitement. Would our work survive this? What will we see when the kiln is opened?
Most importantly, the studio is open to more seasoned potters: a creative space for an artist. Anyone interested in enjoying a period of time at the studio is welcome to do so. The studio provided a wonderful space to get back in touch with clay. However, the largely solitary living experience, the early mornings and the gorgeous 40 minute walk up to the studio were crucial to the creativity experienced: without them the picture would have been half complete and we feel very privileged to have enjoyed it.