When the pandemic struck, the world was forced to stay indoors. Initially, the idea of working remotely from the comfort of your own home was considered a fluke. Over time, the work from home (WFH) routine has become more than mundane.
With virtually no socialization and Netflix (or other digital platforms) becoming the “only” activity to hope for, people’s expectations for the happiness that was to be the WFH collapsed.
Aparna Choudhrie (49) says: “The most educated people [usually] consider themselves interesting. Suddenly, they realized that apart from working, traveling and partying, there was nothing for them. Containment took away the three [activities], and they reunited with their new best friend Netflix. “
It was then that a lot of people started to realize that investing in themselves is as important as getting attached and pushing each other. In fact, a few have decided to overhaul the once-overlooked bucket list and take their hobbies seriously without the added pressure from peers and parents.
At such a time, the conscious and centuries-old craft of pottery experienced a revival. Choudhrie, who is the founder of The Clay Company, based in Nehru Place (a pottery studio launched in 2015), tells us that registrations for pottery classes at her studio have increased by at least 20% after the last lockdown.
“I get almost two calls a day, six days a week. That’s a huge number. People have understood that they need to spend time with themselves. Plus, there is so much more in the life outside of personalities, lives and even careers – no matter how rewarding it is, ”she mentions.
Rashmi Sharda (37), founder of Gurugram-based Zventien Ceramics Studio, opened her studio in November last year. Sharda agrees that after the pandemic there was new interest in this tactile craft. “Of course, one of the reasons is that people have realized that there is more to life than a career,” Sharda says.
“But it’s also because of how pottery has become accessible now. There’s also this idea of living in the moment through pottery. You take about two hours and take that memory back to you. [as well as a handmade product], she estimates, adding that she receives three or four requests per week.
MORE THAN JUST A CREATIVE OUTLET
Pottery isn’t just about being a creative outlet for most people. In fact, both amateur and established pottery enthusiasts will be happy to dictate a whole host of reasons why this tangible craft is more than just an artistic medium.
Gurugram resident Vasundhra Kaul, 24, explains how pottery has helped her focus better. Currently a research fellow, Kaul, who also trained as a lawyer, says: “The last few years [for me] has just been on academia. I would always see friends illustrating or painting and wondering how nice it is to be able to create something. I think it’s important to be able to work with your hands; I was looking for a hobby that would allow such creative expression and be a hands-on activity. “
While looking for pottery lessons near their home, Kaul and her friend Regina Chozah (28) stumbled upon Zventien Ceramics Studio, based in Gurugram. The duo have completed nearly six months learning the trade and typically spend six hours each weekend in their sessions.
Kaul says, “Pottery has helped me take time for myself, but in a way that has allowed me to develop a skill. It also helps me to develop my self-confidence.
In addition to allowing him to channel his energy, Chozah, who runs an educational start-up, explains that therapeutic crafts have also increased his productivity. She says: “It’s also a very personal job. You shape your clay and it remembers your touch. It’s very satisfying because I can always identify my work. If you have no way of expressing yourself and you are not another art or craft, pottery is a great medium to explore. “
Gentle movements when practicing pottery are known to help in the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Speaking of a prolific student who started pottery at the age of 72, Choudhrie said, “Besides the other benefits, it is the tactile side of craftsmanship that is even stronger and can help people who have physical problems such as arthritis. “
Dr Shruti Sharma (50), based in Pitampura, explains that the craft helps keep his mind energized. “I have to keep my brain active. Pottery also helps a lot with hand-eye coordination,” says the eye surgeon who started the hobby four years ago and is a regular at Earthen Aura Ceramics, Pitampura.
A THERAPEUTIC PROCESS
It’s not news that the pandemic has taken its toll on people’s mental health. Add to that, being locked in the house relentlessly is nothing short of a recipe for disaster. Sharda explains how this craft helped a student cope with depression: “I remember one of my students telling me that pottery had helped her relieve the stress of confinement. The pandemic was stressful. for her, as for the others. “
Recalling a similar incident, Choudhrie said: “I had no idea that one of my students was being treated for depression. She would be in the studio regularly. A few weeks later, one day, she broke down. saying “I don’t think you realize how much this has changed my life. The only time I feel fulfilled and centered is in the studio. ‘ She told me how the job has helped her connect with herself. “
Working with clay, as many pottery enthusiasts will agree, is a lot like meditation. In fact, the practice of pottery can be presented as a countermeasure to help reduce digital stress. Kaul explains, “It is very calming to work with mud; our ancestors recognized it a long time ago.
Chozah recalls feeling isolated during the lockdown and reveals, “During the lockdown I had a lot of anxiety. A lot of my friends had gone home and there had been no social interaction. pottery has helped me spend time and be creative. It’s a really calming process and it helps me focus. “
Dipti Gupta (44), founder of Earthen Aura Ceramics, opened her workshop in 2004. She mentions that after the lockdown there was a 50-60% increase in registrations for pottery in her space. Gupta mentions, “I didn’t expect a lot of people to come after the lockdown. But there has been an increase in the number.”
Of course, social media also plays a big role in popularizing crafts. Gupta explains: “The two main reasons are that they have read and heard of therapeutic pottery; and even doctors recommend it as an anti-stress activity. “
Besides being a meditative craft, Gupta explains, pottery has also proven to be a fun activity for couples. Example: Aditya Popuri (30 years old) from Dwarka and Bhargavi Nallamothu (28 years old). Bhargavi, who temporarily moved to Delhi from Bengaluru, tells us that she has always had a creative bent.
She decided to take pottery classes at Earthen Aura Ceramics in an attempt to explore the city. Bhargavi mentions: “Sitting at home and working has become extremely stressful. It’s great that we started class together, because we can make a product and take it home. In fact, we also remember experience. “
Her husband, Aditya, initially decided to enroll only to accompany Bhargavi to classes. As he tried the craft, and over time, Aditya realized that he really enjoyed the pottery process. On weekends, it takes the duo about two hours, round trip, from the studio to their home.
But, they have no complaints. Aditya, who works as a professional in a credit rating agency, adds: “It is a very good break for me in my everyday life. For two hours on weekends, we just focus on what we’re doing. It’s a meditative process, in a sense that we end up focusing on the pottery. Personally, I’ve never done anything artistic, so it’s a great break. “