How a Northeastern Commercial Photographer Set Up Her First Mechanized Pottery Studio in Kashmir

Srinagar: A delight for sore eyes is the gleaming enamel and tint of the pottery, which is as much utility as it is a thing of beauty. Shamshad Khan, 38, showcases his pottery skills learned from skilled potters across India, instills his love for timeless Kashmir art through his business, Studio Tawaf.

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Trained as a commercial photographer, Shamshad, originally from the North East but married to Kashmir, first met her love for pottery in college.

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“I was drawn to the tactility of clay and to watch it transform into a functional object. However, I couldn’t continue because I was studying something else, ”she recalls.

The beginning

After her marriage, Shamshad realized the dearth of creative spaces like pottery workshops in Kashmir. “The local potters are quite good here, but their profession remains unknown because it does not go beyond the essential. I saw an opportunity to reintroduce the profession using different techniques, ”she said.

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It took him a year to properly train in pottery. Shamshad traveled all over India and also learned the details of the crafts from local potters.

In the summer of 2021, she opened her studio in Pantha Chowk. He is incorporated into his home and every piece of clay that is made there has been created with varying techniques, whether it is a textured surface or a painted pattern, or something that is simply dipped in. in a single color glaze.

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“I tried different types of utensils, from platters to French butter dishes, spoon rests, saucepans and tagine pots. They are not only visually pleasing, but have unique properties. For example, French toast with French butter can maintain the freshness and spreadable consistency of butter without refrigeration.

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Likewise, the tagine jars are microwave, oven and dishwasher safe, ”she said.

Pottery in the making

Pottery requires patience from conceptualizing the design until the fired item finally comes out of the kiln. “I use terracotta that can be obtained locally. In addition, I use an electric potter’s wheel and a gas oven for cooking, ”she said.

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Shamshad said that there are many levels and processes to go through, but there are two key aspects to keep in mind.

“One is design thinking, which deals with the appearance of the final product, and the other is technical understanding. Technical understanding is the behavior of the raw material with respect to various processes such as the mixing of other ingredients into the clay and their impact on the product, the planning of the surface finish, the timing and the glaze thickness or even the right temperature and baking time. The combination of these elements makes it a complex art to learn, ”she said.

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This promising line of products has brought him a good number of customers online. His clay work was recently featured in an exhibition held at the Samci Rivera Hotel, Rajbagh.

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“I have made good progress over the past few months. I market my products via my Instagram page as well as my website, called Tawaf Studio. Another exhibition is in preparation by the end of the month at the Radisson hotel, ”she said.

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Future plans

Shamshad plans to open the studio for holistic training in all of these facets of pottery. “The training techniques and workshops will provide hands-on experience for budding potters and promote the art among pottery enthusiasts,” she said.

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