Srinagar: A delight to sore eyes is the lustrous glaze and hue of pottery, which is as utilitarian as much a thing of beauty. Bringing forth her pottery skills learnt from trained potters all over India, 38-year-old Shamshad Khan, is infusing her love for the timeless art in Kashmir through her enterprise, Tawaf studio.
Trained as a commercial photographer, Shamshad originally from North-East but married in Kashmir encountered her love for pottery the first time in college days.
“I was drawn to the tactility of clay and watching it transform into a functional object. However, I could not continue with it as I was studying something else,” she recalls.
After she got married, Shamshad realised the dearth of creative spaces like pottery studios in Kashmir. “The local potters are quite good here yet their craft remains unappreciated as it doesn’t go beyond basics. I saw an opportunity to reintroduce the craft using different techniques,” she said.
It took her a year to train herself properly in pottery. Shamshad travelled all over India and learnt the nitty-gritty of the craft from local potters as well.
In the summer of 2021, she opened her studio at Pantha Chowk. It is incorporated within her house and each clay work made there has been created with varied techniques, be it a textured surface or painted pattern, or something that is simply dipped in a single colour glaze.
“I have tried different types of utensils right from platters to French Butter Dish, spoon rest, Casseroles and Tagine pots. They are not only visually pleasing but have some unique properties. For example, French butter toast can maintain the freshness and spreadable consistency of butter without refrigeration.
Similarly, Tagine pots are microwave safe, oven proof, and dishwasher safe,” she said.
Pottery in the making
Pottery demands patience right from design conceptualization till the fired article finally comes out of the kiln. “I use terracotta clay which can be procured locally. Further, I use an electrical potter wheel and a gas kiln for baking,” she said.
Shamshad said there are many levels and processes to be followed, but there are two key aspects that need to be kept in mind.
“One is the design thinking, which deals with the fact that how the final product would look and another is the technical understanding. Technical understanding is the behaviour of raw material to various processes like mix of other ingredients in the clay and their impact on the product, planning the surface finish, timing and thickness of glaze or even the right temperature & duration of firing. The combination of these elements makes it a complex art to learn,” she said.
This promising array of products have brought her a good number of customers online. Her clay work has recently been showcased in an exhibition held at Hotel Samci Rivera, Rajbagh.
“I have made good progress in the last couple of months. I market my products through my Instagram page as well as my website, by the name of Tawaf Studio. Another exhibition is in the pipeline by the end of this month at Hotel Radisson,” she said.
Shamshad is planning to open up the studio for holistic training on all these facets of pottery. “The training techniques and workshops will give hands-on experience to the aspiring potters and promote the art among pottery enthusiasts,” she said.