May 22, 2011

Hooli's potmakers

The art of pot-making is fading from rural society- I realized it after seeing Shankrappa's workshop. Thanks to Ningappa Yellappa Gulgangi, my guide to Hooli Fort, for insisting me to visit the potter's workshop. It was long pending dream to see a pot-making in real.

That's Shankrappa Megappa Kumbhar showing me pots ready for the market. In the background, to his right you can see two red colored flower vases made by him few years ago.

That's his wheel. I asked if the wheel is wooden. No, its fiber. Plastic everywhere!

Shankrappa learnt the art of spinning clay from his grandfather Mallappa Shetyappa Kumbhar. Yes, that's Mallappa, the old man of Kumbhar family. He's busy ramming pot's base to uniform thickness.

The pots you see here are not entirely spun, only the top half is spun while the bottom half is hand-made. Its a job which demand lot of patience and concentration.

I think it was Ningappa who came up with the idea of having a demo. Shankrappa ad his brother Suresh ready things, even the kids lend hands. Check out in this two part video how Shankrappa makes a flower vase in minutes. I miss out a minute in between to change my camera batteries.

There it is!

Its not ready for use yet. It will be allowed to dry and then baked in a kiln to harden the clay.

The clay used has lot of effort behind it. Shankrappa hires a couple of tractors & few men, travel about 60km to a lake near MK Hubli, work on the lake bed and haul clay lumps to their workshop. It's a day's back-breaking work just to get the raw material. Clay lumps are dried in sun light, pounded & powdered and ran through a fine sieve to eliminate the tiniest of pebbles. Then water is added and kneaded till the required consistency is achieved. The ready clay is covered with a moist rag to maintain the moisture level and water sprinkled when required.

I hope Shankrappa has kept it. I plan to pick it up during my next visit.

Special pots for a wedding ceremony. He's supposed to deliver a hundred of such pots during that week.

Suresh never learnt to spin clay but he's the boss of making clay stoves. Most rural houses have clay stoves in kitchens. If I'm not mistaken old stoves are replaced with new ones during Deepawali.

Suresh shows the kiln. Fuel used is mostly wood and paddy husk.

Suresh mentioned that running business was getting difficult with prices going skywards while prices of pots remain same. Profits are going down every year. Even the government does not support the Kumbhar community. Running life is getting difficult. Its true. Suresh is not exaggerating.


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