Tucked away in the dry evergreen forests of Dana Community, Mandala Pottery celebrated 22 years of pottering this year. Started in the 90s by Chinmayi and Anamika, Adil Writer joined Mandala in 2001. Our current group as of April 2018 includes Julietta, Krishnamoorthy, Raghavan, Shanthi, Baikyum and Suresh.
We are a ceramic studio where most of our work is made with clay bodies composed of raw materials sourced from as close to us as is possible. We make our own clays as well as glazes, the finished products being food-safe, lead-free and dishwasher & microwave safe. We model our studio setup along the principles of social sustainability and fair trade practices. At Mandala we produce a vast array of functional ceramics, made either on the potter’s wheel, slip cast or hand built. Our works are subsequently wood, gas or soda fired. The wood we use as fuel to fire our pottery is grown in the hinterland as a cash crop or is collected and supplied to us by forest-communities around our studio.
Our forte is functional ceramics and aroma-therapy products as well as architectural installations and murals. Besides this, our own personal studio-ceramics and sculptural work is what we exhibit globally. We are a small studio and we choose to stay small. We are riding the made-in-India wave, where people in India are appreciating the handmade pot with its intrinsic eccentricities, making it stand apart from industrially made ceramics that are flooding our markets from the Far East. We are swamped with orders these days for designing tableware for upmarket restaurants, niche cafes and boutiques, some orders interestingly coming in from the Far East too! Everyone wants a signature look…. Which is challenging as well as rewarding. Our best customers become friends…. the smart ones who give us their requirements and let us do our stuff…. Just like we don’t tell them how to cook their food!
We are also one of the few studios soda-firing in India using locally grown wood as the primary fuel. This is an atmospheric firing technique where “soda” is sprayed into the kiln near peak temperature, usually 1200 degrees centigrade. The "sodas" used are sodium bi-carbonate, commonly known as baking soda, and sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash. Soda, once introduced to the heat of the kiln, will vaporize and bond with the surfaces of the pots to form sodium-silicate glaze… giving us the beautiful spectrum of luscious, drippy, drooly, wild mottled, orange-peel effects…. a look which we can only get with soda firings. Our soda firings typically span 24 hours. We have been firing and hiding away a lot of our pieces from our earlier firings ….just to have a chance to see them for a while and appreciate them before sending them out into the world.
Hope you enjoy the variations and unpredictability of this method of firing pottery. The hiss and crackle of the firings leave their marks on the pots. Certain pieces have slight cracks and ground surfaces, not to be seen as defects, but to be cherished for the story they tell us of their initiation through fire! Hope you enjoy using our ceramic ware as much as we enjoy the process of making it for you!!