Published: 03rd September 2020
This mother-daughter duo from Puducherry ramped up work with artisans during the lockdown to create stunning stoneware pottery
Glaze is a glass-like substance that clay products are sometimes coated with to add a non-porous, decorative coating. And this is how it is changing the game for pottery, artisans and the duo
Pottery as art is not concentrated in one region of the world, but what different parts of the world have done is make the art their own by adding little bits of local flavour. To ensure that everyone gets access to the unique stoneware pottery that comes from the clusters of artisans living in and around Puducherry, Clay & Glaze was started four years back by mother-daughter duo Anamika and Anukriti Saraogi. But why are we talking about it now? Because their 'business' has gone from B2C to B2B about six months back and has taken off! All this with their artisans in tow.
The list is endless
But first, let us introduce you to their products which have people from Kashmir to Kanyakumari wanting more. From indigo blue tea sets, planters in all sizes, stoic looking vases, sturdy mugs, even sturdier platters and so much more, it’s an endless list really. Twenty one-year-old Anukriti has pictures of all this and more on their Instagram page, which has over 4.5k followers, and in some more good news, they are going to go live with their website soon which will make ordering easier.
Planters | (Pic: Clay & Glaze)
But what is unique about the pottery of the areas in and around Puducherry? Like, perhaps, multiple other artisans, they use four to five components to make their clay and one of the most unique components is ash clay that comes from Panruti, a city in the Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu. It is basically a substitute for gunpowder used by firecracker factories found in the area. Well, so that's the first half of Clay & Glaze. What about glaze? That comes from the American couple Ray Meeker and Deborah Smith who brought the art of glazing in their own style and established the renowned Golden Bridge Pottery in 1971 in Auroville. Since then, this glazing technique has been adopted by many smaller units of artisans. And this is what you see transpiring in the products offered by Clay & Glaze.
Now, back to the duo. What started as an innocent handmade pottery workshop in Auroville for Anamika Saraogi four years back turned into a passion so fierce that it rubbed off on her daughter as well, who pursued a Bachelor's degree in Fashion Technology from NIFT Chennai. Cut to this year. "I was in Mumbai in January 2020 for work but when the pandemic hit, I came down to my hometown and took up Clay & Glaze with more gusto," says Anukriti passionately. These artisans who were supplying products to huge brands like FabIndia and Good Earth were severely affected by the lockdown and sales were down. But it was during this time that Clay & Glaze soared.
Anamika and Anukriti Saraogi | (Pic: Clay & Glaze)
Time for a tour
The 21-year-old pays a visit to the 15 artists, who are mostly scattered along the villages near the Puducherry-Villupuram highway, thrice a week and because everything is handmade, customisation is that much easier. She makes sure everything is perfectly in place. "Every artisan is unique in their own way. One only does a blue glaze while another uses a unique mixture of clay," explains Anukriti. This bond with the artisans has been formed over the years which is why they work so well together. No wonder they have customers from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. They continue to get over 60 orders weekly!
One of their most popular products is the filter coffee set, complete with a tumbler and dabarah, all in clay. All their products are non-porous which means there is no chance of food seeping into the product. It is also zinc and lead-free and can last up to 20 years provided you take care of it well. Their packaging is also zero-waste, “Except the cellotape,” Anukriti adds sheepishly.
Pretty things | (Pic: Clay & Glaze)
Currently, Anukriti is undergoing training at the Golden Bridge Pottery so that she can master the art in the near future and even have her own studio someday. Also, an office so that the overwhelming work at Clay & Glaze is more streamlined.
For more on them, check out instagram.com/clay.and.glaze