A soft spot for pots

Unique hobbies

A soft spot  for pots

Last year, around the same time, Nivedita Chirantan was in a quandary about what to gift her friends and family for New Year. She wanted the gifts to be unique and preferably handmade. That’s when she stumbled on pot painting — she took large planters, palm-sized decorative pots and everything that sits in between and turned them into radiant pieces of art.

Initially, she started out with seven pots but it didn’t take long to catch on. With a light laugh coating her voice, she says, “That year, everyone I knew got painted pots! It gave me such a rush, especially when I saw the finished product.”

Not a newcomer to the crafting world, she adds, “I have been crafting almost all my life. And I have tried various art and craft forms — jewellery making, crochet, stitching, painting and more. When I found pot painting techniques on the internet, I was very intrigued by it. And when I tried it, it gave me immense satisfaction. Most people work on canvas or with paper, so I wanted to try a different medium.”

Her works took on a three-dimensional form the moment she started painting pots and this is what thrilled her.

   “I realised that I’d rather paint on something that is 3D than a flat surface. There are so many ways I can experiment and express myself.” Naturally, her pots were a hit with friends and family so she pursued the technique. “I once went to the petrol bunk to fill gas and there was a potter right next door. He had a variety of pots and I couldn’t resist so I picked up eight of them! I had to call my husband to pick me up because I couldn’t carry them back home. He was amused that I went to fill petrol and came back with so many pots,” she says with another laugh.

Comparing pot painting to meditation, she elaborates, “When I’m painting, I get transported to a different world and I don’t realise the passing of time. I feel calm and peaceful. But I can’t work on a pot at once because I have a five-year-old son who is very naughty; he has the energy of 10 people in his small body!”

   So, a seven-inch pot will take her anywhere between 30 to 40 hours to finish, depending on the intricacy of the design.

    “I work when my son is at school or when he sits to draw as well,” she adds.
It’s not surprising she takes so long to finish because each of her designs are thought of till the last dot.  “I’m from Shivamogga and you see a lot of Warli work there. Although it is not called that (it’s called ‘Hasechitra’), each house has such designs. I’ve always been intrigued by it because complex ideas and thoughts are depicted in a simple manner, so I do Warli on my pots. I like the use of symmetry.” She also has a soft spot for Madhubani because, “It is so colourful! Paintings of nature are depicted using so much colour, which is beautiful.”

One glance at her pots and you can tell that Nivedita loves colours.
   “They brighten everything up! And it feels good when you can mix and match any colour with the others.”

    She uses acrylic paints but chooses different kinds. “I like using acrylic paint because it is easily absorbed by terracotta. But most acrylic colours have a shiny finish to them, which I don’t want. Instead, I use acrylic paint with a matte effect, especially for the background. If the background is shiny, it’ll get all the attention.” This is why she doesn’t varnish the pots. “I don’t want that shiny effect.” And before she paints a pot, she sands it. “It is a long process — I have to make sure the background is even, fill in all the dents, sand it to make it smooth and more,” she explains.

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