When he touches clay, clay touches him

By Sukant Deepak
New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS)
As soon as the idea of clay buttons on garments hit Om Prakash Galav, he knew this could revolutionise the fashion industry. It was while working with designers Sonika Khar and Ashish Dhaka that he thought about the same, intriguing the designer duo who asked him to modify the same.
“I then added hooks, and that’s how Clay Buttons came along,” says Galav who has won the UNESCO Award of Excellence for Handicrafts twice besides a National Award.
This fifth generation Rajasthan-based potter who specialises in Kagzi pottery, traditional and contemporary furniture, miniature pottery and cooking vessels, adds: “The biggest challenge with Clay Buttons is the fact that very few people are ready to make it with proper detailing. So, right now we are working on a small scale in terms of production, and these buttons come under a luxury umbrella. I am sure that over a period of time, they will trickle down to an affordable level. However, the response from the fashion industry has been quite optimistic as people are now more aware about the environment and want to reduce the usage of plastics.”
Galav, who is leading the workshop ‘TERRA JOYS’ being organised by KNMA, smiles that pottery is something that resonates with him in a way that no other activity does. “Creating pottery, I feel deep peace and connection to something within. Frankly, I am sometimes intrigued by how deeply my soul is connected to it.”
Talk to him about the marketing infrastructure and other support structures available for young potters and he admits that though that continues to remain a struggle, much depends on the kind of product one makes. “Besides that, one has to put in an effort to display and position products properly in order to gain sales.”
Even as pottery is fast vanishing as a traditional craft with families hesitating to involve the next generation, Galav blames financial security associated with taking up any craft as a profession.
“There is an obvious struggle in crafts that artisans have to go through, and now for most people it is not really worth it. They know that a professional degree will guarantee a good income.”
He, however, adds that his and many other families that work with them are making sure that sure that the next generation who wants to take up pottery has an edge and a source of livelihood through this craft by collaborations with other industries.
“For example, we are working not only with the fashion industry but also with interior designers and architects on different projects.”
The potter feels that more workshops in schools and colleges will go a long way in sustaining the craft. “When youngsters experience these workshops, they get acquainted with our culture and it’s fascinating even for us to see what they learn and take back with them.”
Talking about the workshop, Kiran Nadar, Chairperson of KNMA tells IANS: “Pottery involves some of the most skillful artwork, and dexterity of hand. It is also one of the oldest crafts that has been passed down through centuries of humanity. The sheer history behind this art form plays an important role in the story of civilization. We are excited to have Om Prakash Galav be able to showcase and share his knowledge and expertise in this workshop.”
(Sukant Deepak can be contacted at sukant.d@ians.in)

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