We connected with Neelma of Happy Potter after she invited us to visit her studio. Since we were taking a train from Bombay to Delhi, Ahmedabad fell conveniently on the way. We were looking forward to meeting a city studio potter after all our months spent at traditional potteries.
The Happy Potter Studio is a sweet small space that speaks of the love Neelma posses for clay. She has done a fabulous job at using the space: everything is meticulously and cleverly placed. As far as studios are concerned this was by far the most orderly and clean space we got to enjoy – and we loved that. The tight space is only a challenge not a hindrance. And ingeniously she has made many DIY adjustments to maximize her space.
We found ourselves aiding Neelma with a small practical challenge: her DIY sink trap bucket was stuck. She couldn’t remove the bucket and drain the clay freely as it had been solidly glued onto the pipe. With a wrench in hand, Yannick quickly managed to pry it loose, adjust it better for future use and save the day. We spoke about space utility and practical matters and inquired about where all and how simple or easy it is to source pottery material as a small business studio potter in India. And we learnt that there aren’t any power cuts in Ahmedabad – this is the electric kiln city!
Neelma has many a story to illustrate the complexity and beauty of her ‘Indian’ pottery journey: from having a custom electric kiln built and discovering it does not fit through the door to dealing with a work standard and ethic with students that goes beyond the mere technicality of how to throw or build. She is a mindful teacher: one who emphasizes your posture when you throw and we had the privilege to sit on her wheel and have her observe where we needed to make body adjustments. We are grateful for this lesson and the openness she extended to us. Art is about sharing for there is nothing truly that comes from ‘us’, we are mere vessels.
Before leaving the Happy Potter studio, Neelma suggested we visit the Vechaar Museum: housing a utensils collection. Seeking inspiration of form and function we thought this was a good idea. The museum is part of an open air, green, traditional Gujarati restaurant: Vishalla. Curious to discover Gujarati cuisine we sat down on charpai’s and had ourselves an excessive meal (that nearly killed us). We lacked for nothing and could honestly not move after consuming the thali. When we eventually visited the museum we were highly impressed with the vast assortment of items on display. The collection is antique and ranges from earthenware to metal and spans a wide range of functions such as water or grain holding vessels through to ritual items and nutcrackers. We enjoyed studying the clay ware but also found ourselves drawn to some beautiful copper vessels. We left with many beautiful impressions.