Thursday, December 2, 2010


Pottery dates back to pre-historic period. The pots were then handmade, burnt in open fires and generally served the purpose of carrying grains, water as well as storing seeds. Shortly thereafter, these pots were used for cooking. In the modern times, pottery has acquired the status of an art. Pottery can be classified under three forms — earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. Together they are called ceramics, which explains why potters are often referred to as ceramic artistes. Requiring tactility and involvement, a good ceramic artiste understands the tricky relationship between humans and clay. Clay can be temperamental and the act of shaping, heating, hardening, cooling and glazing take a lot of practice and patience to get it just right.

Clay, which is naturally available, has an earthy colour that can be altered by experimenting with the kind of clay used, ingredients added and by varying the temperature at which the artifacts are fired in a kiln. There are several steps involved in creating a ceramic piece and entire volumes have been written about the intricacies of this most ancient craft.

Pottery has made a big comeback in recent years with both men and women discovering the fun activities their parents once enjoyed in the '60s and '70s that also included sewing, knitting and woodworking. It's become big business too.

Handmade pottery comes in various shapes and sizes. They may be functional or decorative items. Clay pottery is decorated in several ways and some of the popular methods employed for pottery design are glazing, painting, engraving, carving, metal plating, varnishing and using glittering and colorful threads, beads and shells.

Whether working with hand by moulding pieces or on a potter's wheel, creating a ceramic piece can be a lot of fun. Bhuvanesh Prasad, a potter from Rajasthan has displayed his pottery works at Gandhi Shilp Bazaar at Urban Haat in Hebbal which concludes on Dec. 5. The humble artiste has lost count of the number of awards he has received for his excellence in pottery. In fact, his entire family is into pottery and have received numerous awards. "Both my parents are national award winners for craftsmanship and pottery. My mother is the first woman in India to win a national award in this field," says Bhuvnesh proudly.

Girirajji, father of Bhuvanesh, has even bagged the Shilp Guru Award from President Pratibha Patil.

What makes Bhuvanesh's pottery unique is that he doesn't use any chemicals or oils while giving them the finishing touch.

"My pots are made from natural terra cotta. For additional strength, crushed stone powder is mixed with terra cotta which makes the pots more durable. The finishing and glazing are not made using oil or chemicals. Instead, the surface of the pots are scrubbed with small pieces of stone picked up from sea-shores which gives them a natural sheen."

"I have displayed my art works in Dubai, Australia, Germany, France and several other countries and I feel very happy to exhibit my talent in this cultural city," says Bhuvanesh has created a 10 ft. tall pot using only clay which received a national award from former President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

"I received the award in 2002. In 2005, I also won the UNESCO South Asia 'A' Grade Certificate in pottery from the Textile Minister," says Bhuvanesh. Winning national awards has probably become a family tradition in Bhuvanesh's case.

Not all his works are mere art pieces to be kept on display in showcases but can be used daily life too. "I have even made clay chulas and handis for those who still cherish cooking in the traditional way. Food when cooked in clay pots requires less oil," informs Bhuvanesh keeping today's health conscious people in mind. Some of his other creations are birdbaths, birdhouses, plant pots and foot scrubbers all made of clay. The price tag ranges from Rs.20 to a whopping Rs.1,20,000.

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