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“Pottery Can Teach You a Lot About Life” – Akshaya Salin, Owner of Pottery Studio ‘The Burrow’, From Ahmedabad

Akshaya Salin was on her way to become a civil engineer when fate steered her into taking up pottery for her post-grad. She fell in love with how the calming yet exciting process of pottery truly is! Based in Ahmedabad now, she owns a small atelier named ‘The Burrow’ and works her heart out as a full-time ceramic artist.

  • Hey Akshaya! Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Hi, I’m Akshaya Salin! I’m 26-years-old and based in Ahmedabad. I’m a Malayali settled in Ahmedabad. I did my undergrad in civil engineering and then moved on to working in environmental education for a bit. During this time I randomly came across pottery and my interest was sparked. I was then led to work on a post-grad course in ceramic and glass design at IICD, Jaipur. This experience officially began my path in ceramic design. I continued my journey by working at Claystation, Bangalore. It’s been a year since I have moved back to Ahmedabad and started my own small atelier ‘The Burrow’. 

Terracotta in a fluid shape

  • What types of mediums do you work with?

I work with terracotta, stoneware and porcelain at the moment. My favorite is terracotta! Even though it is seen as a more basic material, not very posh but it has a lot of potential and can be used in every aspect of home-ware with its flexible characteristics and earthy aesthetic. My design research was based around the terracotta range. 

I also like to make designs and products that blend Indian vernacular designs with modern India. Take a traditional form and make it my own, to bring it new life. I’m also highly inspired by Japanese culture and the concept of Wabi-Sabi. I begin with a design idea but during the process of moulding it, I may find a totally different result. I have learnt to love the idea of finding beauty in the imperfections.

Our potter concentrating on the wheel.

  • What inspired you to get into pottery?

I can trace back my first brush with pottery being a workshop organised for making eco-friendly Ganesha statues. This was what introduced me to the environment-friendly life and led me to learn ceramics and glass design in my post-grad. 

Tool and the wheel – top view

the kiln – used for the firing stage.

  • Tell us a little bit about the general pottery process.

Pottery involves all the elements, earth, fire, water and air. Earth and water make the clay and it is what you use to mould your pieces. Air is how the pottery dries and fire is the firing process that a clay pot goes through to bake and become the beautiful final ware.

  • Why pottery and how does it affect your perspective to the world?

The pottery making process teaches you a lot of life lessons in the most subtle and harsh ways. It looks very simple and easy when someone else is doing it but when you try your hand, that’s when you realise it’s not as it looks. 

Every time a new person comes to learn pottery at Claystation, the first thing we would prepare them for is the fact that the piece you make with so much love and care might just break at any time because of all the variables which go with creating something natural, so don’t be attached to it. 

But once you let go and give in to the process, it gives you a time out from everything else going on, and you’re involved in the soothing rotations and the feel of clay. Pottery serves as therapy for me. 

Endless ceramic designs.

  • Do you have any childhood pottery memories? Does it have a connection to your roots?

As a kid, in my grandparents’ house in Kerala, I was that kid who made clay cakes and house from the wet sand and small utensils from the kitchen and anything else I could find. So I guess in a way I always had a thing for clay or being able to use my hands to create things. It’s odd how you don’t even realise these connections until you truly reflect on them. We should never lose our childhood memories. They were you in the purest of form, maybe you could look back and try to pick up things that made you happy back then. 

Ceramic design and glazing

Porcelain forms – minimalist design

  • How is it like being a full-time potter?

Pottery doesn’t take a lot of your time and I believe that you need to make things when you’re in the mood and fresh. You can never over-stress yourself with pottery. It never works. Everything you make when you’re stressing about it will never take form. Every piece has its own easy parts and hard parts. Sometimes the tiniest things feel like the hardest and at times the easiest.   

  • What is the hardest and best part of being a potter?

The hard part is when you spend hours on a ware and it breaks at any stage. Even at times if it makes it out of the kiln all good. It breaks in transport. That’s still heartbreaking. But I love what I do and everything about it. I’m very glad I stumbled onto this path and I’m extremely happy about the people I have met along the way who inspire me and teach me to be better!

See more of her designs and work on her Instagram page.

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