Clay your part
We had signed up for the parent-child session, had walked down the beautiful undulating property, donned our aprons, neatly placed napkins over our legs and sat down to listen to our instructions
The Pottery Lab (indoors), Bandra West
There is something so calming about messing around with mud of any kind. Ask educationists and they will tell you why sand-play and water-play are almost mandatory in all pre-schools. Other than the fact that they are great ways to calm children, especially a generation of near hyper-active kids, sand-play encourages creativity in them and helps provide an outlet for them to express their feelings through exploration.
While it is a proven fact that working with mud or sand is important for children to develop and practise their fine and gross motor skills, increase awareness of their senses, particularly touch, improve hand-eye coordination and develop their social and emotional skills, what does it do for older kids?
That's not what was on my mind when I enrolled myself and my two kids — Vani, a teen and Ammol, a pre-teen — for a pottery workshop at a studio. But it is definitely what occurred to me when we were given a lump of clay and asked to knead it. Just digging our fingers into the wet clay, pressing it hard on the table to remove the bubbles locked up in the lump (even a single bubble, we were told, would make the dried-up ceramic explode in the kiln while being baked), dabbing a wet sponge on the mud if we sensed it was drying out, and kneading it over until it smoothed into a clean ball of clay before flattening it with our palms was immensely quietening.
We were at The Pottery Lab at Pali Hill, run by Rekha Goel, a potter and ceramic artist, who also conducts workshops for adults and children. We had signed up for the parent-child session, had walked down the beautiful undulating property, donned our aprons, neatly placed napkins over our legs and sat down to listen to our instructions.
Now that we had flattened the piece of clay on our table, it was time to roll and cut. Ammol, my 12-year-old who was already feeling self-conscious with the apron, let out a giggle when giant rolling pins were brought out. We were shown how to place sticks to the side of the clay, how to place the rolling pin on the sticks and with a steady arm, to heft the clay into a flat half-inch-thick, professional-looking clay tablet. Then we cut the clay with a ruler and a cutter, into a square.
Through the two-hour hand's-on session, we were taught the difference of clay powders, what terracotta is used for, stoneware versus ceramic works, and how glazing is done. Rekha's assistant expertly helped us knife out the bubbles and then we worked on texturing the tablet. Vani did an Om.
Ammol did a Ganesha. The other parent-child duo who had signed up for the workshop made a three-dimensional flower with leaves, and it was stunning. We chose the colour of the tile and kept it aside. I want to return to make ceramic chai mugs, but I was gently told that is only for advanced students.
Where: The Pottery Lab, Temperance, plot no 76, Nargis Dutt Road, Pali Hill, Bandra West.
Best for: Boys and girls, five years of age and above, only if accompanied by parents.
How to reach: Alight at Bandra West station and hail an auto to Pali Hill.
Timings: Depending on what time slot you book online.
Budget: We had signed up for the parent-child wall art workshop at '3,600 for the three of us. Budget depends on what package you pre-register for.
Food: No food allowed inside the lab. There are eateries close by.
Water: You can get your own.
Rest Room facilities: Yes, there are.
Where else to go: Joggers Park is near-by, so is Bandstand with Bandra Fort. Juhu Beach is another outdoor place to head to.
Hop N Bop is also close by.
Parent Poll: Loved it.
Kids' Poll: Two hours flew by without even realising it.
What's Good: A lot of information and encouragement, very little hand-holding.
What's Not So Good: Can't think of anything.
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