I started teaching in my studio after a friend, who took classes with me at an artist’s residency centre in Delhi, said that I teach well! My teaching philosophy is simple: developing good throwing skills and handling the medium (clay) is an important “tool”. It is frustrating initially and needs highest order of dedication and determination but is critical to use this medium effectively for expression.Though I prefer students who have learnt basics, I am happy to accept a completely raw person as long as I can feel the passion of the individual towards the medium. Since I am an artist-only-by-the-weekend and have limited studio space I can only have few students at any given point of time.
Finally, I do not teach for commercial considerations as the sole motive. I do so only to share my learning and helping others get onto the beautiful path of clay world. I do charge a fees but I am not driven by that since this is not my profession but my passion.
To begin with, I encourage my students to focus on developing basic throwing skills. Towards this goal they need to make cylinders -thin and even, week after week. They do this as long as it takes them to get it right. Next step is either to move to a different shape (bowl, platter) or increase the quantity of clay but continue to make cylinders. The latter is usually preferred.
As they become more and more comfortable with the medium and its handling on the wheel, others aspects like aesthetics, using different techniques (altering the form, slab/coiling techniques) are introduced.
Beyond a point I like to withdraw from teaching the basic technique of wheel throwing and forming. This will happen if the students watch carefully when I give demonstrations or do my own work. They will have to be motivated to learn it themselves (through repetition). They will have to be determined since they will be pushed out of situations where they are most comfortable.
Finally, once the basic skills are in place, I push my students to develop an expression, their individuality. More time should be spent in taking risks and experimenting. In other words, to be thinking for oneself as to what needs to be done rather than waiting to be told. At this stage I can only be a sounding board or at best a guide. The journey from here has to be travelled alone...each artist has to evolve and discover one’s own path. Others can only support and be a catalyst. We fire regularly and also spend considerable time in glaze testing and preparation. Each student has to contribute on this aspect. The rule is to sit through the entire firing, bisque and glaze. Firing days are considered a “class” day.
My students are expected to contribute to all the studio work like recycling the clay, loading pots in the kiln, cleaning kiln and kiln furniture before and after each firing, and even sweeping the floor. Everyone is encouraged to ask questions and debate/discuss on various technical aspects of clay and glazing. I believe it is important to question everything to learn the “rules” but it is critical to learn them to break them effectively.Typical class duration is 3 hours but I like students who can come a little early to get the ground work done (like wedging the clay) before the actual class time. We play music and have coffee (sometimes several times in a class)...and in general really enjoy the time spent with clay!
Following is a list of my current and past students and their contact information: