Pottery- A date with the Wheel!

Pottery, more often than not is an expression of the subconscious mind and of one’s life experiences, it is something to be perceived by the senses and later to be relayed in the physical form…that’s what I have come to understand of this art-form since the time I have been an ‘assistant’ to my daughter for her Pottery Classes. And I am enjoying every bit about these classes.

Yashaana’a first date with the ‘Wheel’ was not only a momentous occasion for her but also for her Instructor and me. Needless to say she was mighty excited, a few days before her pottery class she made sure that she read everything that she could get her hands on, to do her homework before sitting at the ‘Wheel’. But it wasn’t to happen so mechanically of course, knowing Meena, I knew there would be an experience waiting for us. And sure enough she had more than just a Pottery class (to give) for Yashaana. Before the formal ‘clay throwing’ her instructor, Meena Vohra, made sure that she understood why it is important to ‘centre’ the shapeless lump of clay…for it to be turned into a worthy piece of usage or an art form. As a passive onlooker I could gather how important it was for Yashaana to gain a deeper understanding of this art form.
‘Clay when not centered doesn’t yield the desired result (or no result at all)’…and I just loved the analogy that Meena draws with Clay and Life… She says, ‘When our thoughts aren’t centered on our priorities then do not expect your life to be in balance/harmony… it will be imbalanced…in other words- it will not yield the desired result.’ Bringing about a balance in your life by ‘centering’ your thoughts based on your priorities is what one ought to practice, to achieve the desired result.
Attending the Pottery Classes with my daughter is like attending Life Skills classes…the insights, the sharing of experiences that Meena shares with her students doesn’t end at learning just about the clay or the Pottery.
Here’s Yashaana (ecstatic writ large on her face that her smile goes lopsided!)and her instructor after her first ‘Wheel’ experience.

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After years of working as an educator when she threw it all away only to follow her heart, little did Meena Vohra know that her connection with the clay would be so profound and deep that it would inspire others, irrespective of their age and profession, to follow suit.

Potter at 50? YES! Learning has no boundaries, no age; that’s when she found the perfect medium to fuse her deep creativity with spirituality and appreciation for the natural world with her vibrant imagination and strong dramatic clay creations. Her home is a testimony to her multi-hued glazed pottery with a touch of whimsy. I will share her lovely home and garden (and cooking) with you all soon.
Meena Vohra’s expressive style has inspired a new generation of young potters who believe in living a meaningful and joyous life. Through her classes, she teaches them life’s lesson and not just customized studio pottery. Her pottery is a celebration of her other joys and inspiration—gardening and cooking. The shapes and patterns she finds among the leaves, flowers, fruits and vegetables, find their way into her clay creations. She has made a special niche in ceramics and glazed pottery. Sipping green tea, as we waited for Yashaana’s first ‘hand-pinched/hollow ball’ clay pot to dry a little…

Pottery @ Hooked on Homes!

she shared her thoughts on life, I especially latched onto one such thought of hers- “Everything is made up of five elements of nature- bhūmi (earth), jal (water), agni (fire), vayu (air), akash (void), so is our body…to feel this connection, one needs to be a potter; it connects you to all the five elements of life not just in physical domain but in spiritual domain as well.”
I could connect so very well to what she meant…pottery indeed is a medium of dual realities. For one, is the clay’s obvious physical use in terms of the creations that are churned out. And the second, the abstract use, the spiritual realms of connection with the five elements of life itself. All this may seem intricate and complicated but is actually so clear and simple…just as the soil (or the clay). It is there all around us…all you have to do is see it, feel it and express via it.
As I sat there watching my daughter, Yashaana, take her first pottery lesson, it was heartwarming to see her with such a passionate instructor at work, they bonded as if they have known each other forever… It was indeed a pleasant feeling and a knowing that it is not just pottery class…it is a beginning of a journey…of a lasting relationship…creative, spiritual and soulful.
Yashaana has always been a keen learner…always in pursuit of learning new art forms to push her creative boundaries; pottery seemed a natural step in that direction.
Looking forward to our next class with Meena Vohra, an artist who defies not only the conventional learning norms but age as well!

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Uses of a Tablet PC

My daughter has opted for ‘Fine Arts’ as one of her subjects in Grade 9. She is thoroughly enjoying her classes. And so am I…looking at her enthusiasm! She has taken over all my art tools and other collection… I am happy to share it all with her. I have this collection of old Walter Foster art series (collected them when I was in school!) using my tablet (also hijacked by her!) she has compiled the art series on the tablet, theme wise … That’s her collection now. So instead of art books/papers, she generates a soft copy, turns it into a PDF and stores it all on the tablet PC. Want to know how she does it and ‘How to Tame Paper Clutter with a Tablet?

Uses of a Tablet PC

Uses of a Tablet PC

While you are at it, do click here to read some other uses of a tablet, other than the usual ones. Recently her art teacher sent her a photograph, of the project that was her home assignment for the long weekend, on WhatsApp; which my daughter downloaded on the tablet and she worked through the weekend to complete it. And guess who her ‘art caddy’ was… the Tablet!

Giving you a glimpse of her work in progress… not bad for a first timer with acrylics!

In any case I love whatever she does 🙂 She likes to sit on the floor to work on her projects…me too! This is one of the reasons why I need to have a comfortable floor seating area in every room of our home. Look at the degree of comfort that she has with the Dell tablet.

Initially I was a little apprehensive about it but the ease of use and the durable/tough outer shell and the glass surface are mighty strong to take a 14 year old’s experiments! Seriously, it is a tough gadget indeed. For a Fine Art student it is fantastic gadget/technology. Not only does one get to store reference resources but also can edit/modify the resource before actually executing it on a canvas or any other surface. It is faster and simpler doing it on the gadget than doing it on paper…saves you a lot of time.

Here is the final look, of the first of the three series painting!

Acrylic Painting @ Hooked on Homes!

Acrylic Painting @ Hooked on Homes!

I took this picture a month back when the Gulmohar trees ( Delonix Regia) were in full bloom.

This picture became an inspiration…

…for her to submit a small 8 inches by 5 inches canvas as part of her practical assignment at School.

I am so happy with the way she has taken to the tablet… not just for games and the internet but for a constructive/productive use. How do you use your tablet? Any ideas to share?


(This is a sponsored post but all opinions/views/experiences are 100% mine. I would not endorse something unless I really liked it/ tried it/ believed in it. To read my complete disclosure policy click here.)

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Pencil Color Doodles

I couldn’t help but post this blog as I felt I have to show-off a friend’s work who is forever creating these amazing  Pencil Color Doodles! She feels that they are nothing serious but I am sure anyone would disagree with her, just like I do! She essentially uses pencil colors to draw and color, sometimes it is a mixed media.

Let me formally introduce you to Mridul Goyal, an art teacher who believes anyone can be an artist if only they would think and draw from the heart! Easier said than done! She makes it seem so easy (but it’s not, trust me!). Her style is abstract/contemporary suggestive of surreal fantasy or a teasing mystery!

She loves capturing fine details in her pencil work. She says her sources of inspiration are anything and everything from mundane objects to anything exciting… all in a day’s work!

This summer she intends to conduct a few Art Workshops at her studio. Sitting with her, in my free time, I have picked up a few tips and techniques and I plan to take it further… I am practising. With her guidance I am sure I shall get better.

I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day, there is so much to learn, so much to do and so little time!

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Let’s Paper Mache!

The wait for summer holidays always seem endless. As the holidays come closer my ‘to-do’ list becomes longer and it continues to become longer all through the holidays! The list is also as endless as the wait  for summer hols! Always! Apart from trekking or travelling, one of the ‘to-do’ is that I involve the kids in making the most of the warm summer days through art & craft ideas for projects, birthdays, or just decorations for their room; or to capture moments, of our vacation/ adventures as keepsakes. I have always found working on smaller craft projects invigorating and challenging. These summer hols, Yashaana and I worked on Paper Mache projects (my son, claims he is too grown up for this stuff!).

We made our Paper Mache pulp with old newspapers. Here are three of the recipes that I use (depending on how much time I have):

Paper Mache Recipe 1- This is the recipe I usually follow because it is so simple and I always have the ingredients in my cupboard. I make paste of refined flour with water (pancake batter consistency). No cooking required.

Paper Mache Recipe 2- This paste recipe is very similar to Recipe 1 except that the same paste is diluted further and cooked till it turns translucent. It is supposed to be a little stronger and it dries to almost transparent finish.

Important Tip: Before starting your project, cover it completely with either two layers of newspaper or cling film. I prefer the latter. It makes it easy for the dried paper mache project to come off its mold. Any object at home can be your mold for the paper mache project. You can use bowls, plate, glasses etc. Just make sure that the shape is such that it can easily come off the dried paper mache project (or else your mold/container will be stuck!). 

Procedure for Recipes 1 & 2:

  • Tear the newspaper into long strips or small pieces and keep aside.
  • Spread few layers of newspaper on the surface you’ll be working on.
  • Dip these pieces into either Recipe 1 or 2 and keep applying smooth layers on your project, flatten the layers with your finger tips and remove excess flour paste.
  • Add at least 5 to 6 layers of paper-mâché to your surface. Layering makes it stronger; there is no rule to how many layers. You be the judge.
  • Leave to dry completely in a well ventilated place (not in the sun). It may take a couple of days. It becomes as hard as wood once well dried.
  • Nudge the dried paper mâché off the mold by unwrapping the cling film. Once released off the mold, peel off the cling film completely.
  • Now your project is ready for paint or embellishments. You can use acrylic paints.
  • Apply a coat of clear varnish, once you are through with colouring or decorating your project and when it is dry.
  • The clear varnish prevents the acrylic paint from chipping and gives the paper mâché project shine as well as strength.

Paper Mache Recipe 3- Tear the paper into small pieces and soak overnight in water, add a bit of salt/ boric powder to retard mold growth. Next, sieve the soaked paper pieces and pound them using mortar pestle or anything heavy available at home, use the floor (un-tiled) as your base for pounding. Once I used my wet grinder! Had a tough time cleaning it!

Squeeze out excess water and add PVA glue to form very grainy-dough like consistency. Wrap it in cling film to store in refrigerator (or else it starts smelling if you don’t use it a day or two).

Procedure for Recipe 3:

Follow the ‘Important Tip’. Now all you have to do is use this coarse dough as you would use modeling clay. It is just like working with putty or modeling clay. Keep applying it to your mold and flatten it with your finger tips. Make sure that the dough you spread is even (in terms of thickness) all around the mold, especially around the rim (in case of open containers). The painting procedure for this Recipe is also same as above. 

Personally, I prefer to sand the dried paper mache project, with emery paper, before I start painting on it. It gives smoother effect.  Its okay if you don’t want to sand it, the surface is very easy to paint, allowing you to stencil, sponge with bright colours, add interesting designs to your finished product. You may also glue and embed sequins, beads, crystal etc. 

We made Recipe 3, this time, as we had time on our hand. Yashaana wanted to make a bowl, a pen stand and a ‘hold-all’ box for her craft material. Here are some pictures of one of our summer projects! 

made holes in the ‘hold-all’ box (when it was still wet) on either sides, as I wanted to add a string to give it a bag like effect. 

PS- I am sorry I don’t have pictures of while we were making it 🙁 I hadn’t planned to blog it.

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