By Hand From The Heart is a curated Makers Market event in South India. Upcoming Events: 22nd Edition: 2nd – 3rd February '18 in Coimbatore | 23rd Edition: 16th – 17th – February '18 in Chennai.
Today on the Meet The Makers Series, we find out more about The Potters Shed. A stoneware pottery studio that was established as a social program to support the education for children from underprivileged backgrounds. Lets also find out more about the chief potter Subramani – his training, his works at The Potter’s Shed.
The Potters Shed – the studio and its purpose.
The Potters Shed was born from a dream. It all started over 25 years ago in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, when a teacher at the Kodaikanal International School happened to see a village potter at work. Enchanted by the beauty of the teenaged potter’s hands, as they shaped the clay on his rustic wheel, the germ of an idea sprouted in his mind. The realization that village potters lead a hand-to-mouth existence, always on the verge of dire poverty, and his commitment to help disadvantaged children prompted him to begin turning his dream into a reality Quite ignorant of the technicalities of training a village potter in the intricacies of glazed stoneware production, he boldly asked master potters Debra Smith and Ray Meeker, The Golden Bridge Pottery, Pondicherry, if they would take on the young man, Subramani, as a trainee. For them it was a bold experiment and an act of extraordinary generosity. Four years later, Subramani was ready to move to Kodaikanal, and the Potters Shed Trust came into being. The production unit and sales outlet are both located in the hill station of Kodaikanal, in South India.
Why is making important to you?
The trustees who manage the production and sale of pottery are all committed to keeping the dream alive, and ensuring the success of the experiment. More village potters have been trained since then, and they have lifted themselves out of poverty, into a life of self-sustenance and dignity. Since its creation the trust has changed the lives of other rural children by providing financial assistance for their education and health. Each year, the number of children who benefit from the profits generated by the production and sale of pottery, increases. Today more than 110 children are educated by the Potters Shed. The children are all from economically disadvantaged families. Parents of these children are either employed as unskilled or part-time workers, or unemployed due to illness or disability. The trust provides tuition and an annual medical examination for children ranging in age from 3 to 18 years in ten different local schools. Once a child is admitted into the program, the Trust funds her/his education through school The trust is aided in its efforts by donations from people who want to make a difference in the lives of children. It appreciates this assistance because, with it, the trust is able to increase the number of young people who benefit from the advantages of a formal education Serving Disadvantaged Children.
What’s the most challenging or exciting project you’ve worked on.
One of the most challenging projects we managed is an order to make a pottery fireplace for a customer. Another challenge was to make twelve stoneware bonsai planters with a two foot diameter
Where do you look for inspiration? And what is inspiring you now?
Our friends and customers often give us ideas and we are also inspired by the challenge to make something beautiful and functional that we can use in our daily lives
Describe your work space and what’s it like?
Our pottery is as our name suggests – a large airy shed made of local granite with open spaces and views of the hills and valleys. It reflects the importance we place in simplicity.
What is a typical day at your studio like?
We like to follow the sun as our ancients did. The potters work from sun-up (8 am) to sun-down (4 pm).
Tell us about your proposed showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.
We have a range of stoneware we are proud to showcase at the event. Our products are functional and mostly crockery-ware for homes. Every item has a unique glaze finish.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business?
We‘ve been told ‘Let your business lead you’
What’s your favourite pick at The Potter’s Shed?
Everything we make! We love it all…
Your advice for aspiring craft entrepreneurs?
If you are interested in stoneware pottery, come to The Potter’s Shed. We’ll be happy to teach you the craft.
By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 20th Edition
Date: Friday – Saturday, 7th – 8th July, 2017
Time: 10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Venue: Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
Address: 132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India