Therapists around the world recommend ‘CLAY TIME’ to de-stress the mind. Next time, embark on a ‘pottery vacation’ to recharge the soul. High-end hotels, spas and holiday operators are introducing pottery classes, along with zumba and yoga for their creative customers. So, be it ceramic holidays in Chile, near the snow-capped Volcano Osorno, or Byzantine pottery workshops in Greece, one can spend mornings moulding and creating art, and evenings to indulge in shopping, food, wine and the scenery. If you are looking or some ‘earthy’ therapies in India, there are quite a few options.
(1) BAKING BY THE BEACH : (Goa) —– The sheer mention of Goa splashes words like spa, Jacuzzi, Mediterranean lounge bar, yoga and, yes, pottery. Goa is all about unwinding —— and pottery helps you do just that. Pottery workshops come by the dozen in this state. The settings are mostly in old-fashioned Portuguese bungalows like Sylvia Kerkar’s or bohemian studios run by internatonal artists like Art Escape. You can get access to a fully functional pottery studio by the beach and create some decorative takeaways. There is a palpable shift in the ceramics trend in Goa from traditional glazing methods to new-age decorative items, though, places like Bicholim, Assagao and Verna are still home to traditional potters. Also, scour the flea marts for some murals, tableware and customised handmade tiles, including Mario Miranda’s replicas
(2) ARTIST HAMLET 😦 Himachal Pradesh) —– Andretta, in Himachal Pradesh, has been a stopover for potters from around the globe for many years. A famous institution, Andretta Artist Colony, founded by a lady named Norah Richards(and now run by her artist friends Mansimran Singh and his wife Mary), offers long-term residential pottery courses for students from all over the world. The sleepy village is also home to many craft shops and art galleries. The Andretta Terracotta Museum displays works of local village potters from the surrounding regions, but there is also sample pottery from countries like Mexico, England and Holland. When visiting Andretta, one could go paragliding to Bir-Billing, visit some quaint monasteries around the area and purchase Tibetan handicrafts. Driving to nearby Palampur, known for beautiful tea plantations as a quick day trip is also a good option. There are modern, architecturally-designed cottages nestled in the gardens of Bundla Tea Estate that organise walks through the estate, bicycling, fishing, trekking, golf, yoga and —- some more pottery.
(3) GLOBAL KILN : (Puducherry) —- Home to renowned potter Ray Meeker, Puducherry is the ideal destination to learn and practise pottery. Visit the Golden Bridge Pottery centre in Puducherry, run by Meeker and Deborah Smith, for inspiration and a rare glimpse into the life of a studio and village potter. Puducherry is a haven for people from all nationalities, who liv as Aurovilleans and learn and experience new arts. During your stay in Auroville, club your clay time with foreign movie screenings, symposiums, short-term volunteering on farms, conservation initiatives, language classes and more.
(4) ONE-STOP SHOP : (Rajasthan) —- Pottery has along tradition in Rajasthan. While Alwar is reputed for its double cutwork pottery known as ‘kagzi’. Kota is the centre for manufacturing black pottery like flower bowls, dishes and matkas. Not to forget the gorgeous blue pottery that adorn the shops of Jaipur. Blue Pottery originated in China and was passed on from the Persians to the Muslims. You can visit the Sanganer village near Jaipur and see various families engaged in this art along with some exquisite block printing. There are also artist residencies in Jaipur that offer blue pottery courses with comfortable boarding and lodging facilities. To catch all the genres of pottery of the desert country under one roof, plan a trip to the annual Shilpgram Crafts Festival in Udaipur.