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Pottery In His Blood

Potter Vijendra Prasad proudly displays some diya ready for baking

 

SO you've got a set of plates, bowls, and cups you love. OK, pause for a moment and think. Wouldn't it be better if you were to make your own?

Finding a cute set at the store is nice, but being able to put your own twist on objects you use every day is priceless and easier than you'd think!

This could be made possible through the process of pottery. People make pottery for a variety of reasons; to express their creativity, to make functional pots for use around the house or simply as a fun hobby to utilise their time. Many people even become full-time, professional pottery artists.

Pottery making varies from forming tiny pots by hand to making intricate works of art for museums.

To watch someone work on a potter's wheel and be captivated by the smooth vessel pulled up from a mound of clay ending up with a masterpiece is fascinating.

Meeting local potter Vijendra Prasad, who operates and owns a pottery business, was an exciting experience.

An ancestral trait that has been continued by the very outspoken and friendly Prasad, the family-owned business has been running for about 10 years.

"This business has been in my family for three generations. My father had learnt from his father and me from him and likewise for my son, who has done the same from me. Three generations later and I'm continuing the tradition," said Prasad.

Initially though, the hardworking potter explained his father did not want any of his 10 children to be involved in pottery making.

"I come from a big family, the youngest of seven brothers and two sisters. My father was against the idea of any of us following his footsteps when it came to pottery.

"Like any young boy, I was curious. Seeing that I shared a genuine interest in the art, my father had no choice but to teach me more about pottery," reminisced the 40-year-old.

Married to Reena Prasad with two grown-up children — a son and a daughter — Prasad is a full-time sales executive at Caines Jannif but works on his pottery when he gets home in the afternoons.

"I operate my business from home at Sasawira St at 10 Miles with my wife and kids who have also acquired this phenomenal skill. This is actually a fantastic hobby to learn, it's a good way to utilise my time with after a stressful, hectic day at the office. It gives me a complete sense of serenity," explained the entrepreneur.

So, what exactly does the process of pottery involve? What are the main ingredients for pottery?

"First and foremost, the main ingredient is clay, which I get specifically from Nasilai. Pottery involves a considerable amount of skill and experience. Then of course you have to have patience and concentration.

"I use a motor-operated potter's wheel for my production. This is a more conducive method and it really makes my work much easier."

Explaining a bit more on his hobby, Prasad said: "A potter's wheel is needed when you need anything to be symmetrical and round.

"However, the hardest part about learning how to make pottery is the initial learning hump and getting over it. You will probably need about 10 to 20 attempts before you are proficient at centring clay and making a bowl.

"If you remember to be patient, have fun with learning, keep trying and you'll enjoy pottery and be able to take it as far as you want."

Born and bred in Sasawira, Prasad stressed he chose clay from Nasilai as it was sticky and perfect for pottery.

"I dig two feet into the soil to locate this clay. The sticky clay is then added with fine sand to bind it to avoid cracking the final product once it's 'baked'. The clay that I use when mixed with the proper amount of water forms a cohesive mass and easily retains its shape when moulded.

"It takes a lot of practise to use a potter's wheel but it is tough to rework if mistakes happen initially so you have to be patient to get the perfect final product."

Prasad stressed the final stage in pottery making was the firing which ensured permanency of the products.

"We use the traditional firing mound method where a mound is built by placing sticks on the ground, and then the wares are positioned on and amid the branches and then grass are piled high to complete the mound after which it is then lit. The baking process is usually done overnight," said the potter.

Prasad said money collected from the family business supplemented the income from his full-time job.

"In this day and age, it's hard to earn a decent living and provide for your family. I'm rather fortunate to have this business as my back-up so to speak. Through it, I am able to send my kids to further their education at tertiary level. So, it has really benefited us in the long run," Prasad said.

Prasad is calling on youths to work hard to be successful. He says they should set a goal and strive towards achieving that goal.

The business owner concluded his plan is to produce pots and diya on a large scale with hopes of expanding the business by establishing more markets domestically and possibly within the Pacific region.

 

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