Nagaraj Darani Wedging and Throwing Mugs at the Shakhti Pottery, Auroville

Auroville! What a crazy, unusual place this is. Founded in 1968, it aims to be an International City welcoming all nations. It was set up by Mirra Alfassa whom everyone calls "The Mother" and an enlightened fellow named "Sri Aurobindo." When it was founded, the patch of land was heavily eroded, dusty, desert land, but it's now prosperous and covered with trees. At the centre is a monumental golf ball called "Matrimandir" (sounds kind of Lord of the Rings to me, but it's pretty dazzling when you see it)...


Auroville is a very productive place, and has several pottery studios within it. My first visit was to one called Shakhti Pottery, where they make a variety of wood-fired stoneware pots. Everything in Auroville is spread out and usually down a dirt track, so Lauren and I hired a motorbike to get around: a Hero Honda no less!

It was great fun, razzing around trying to find places. When I did manage to come across Shakhti, I walked in to find Nagaraj vigorously preparing his clay.

His wedging technique is much the same as the one John Colbeck showed me, just with a lot more clay involved:

After the prep, he centered a good lump on his kick wheel and got kicking, adding a bit of water to help his foot grip the concrete. The wheel has a very substantial base, so keeps a good momentum going: Nagaraj kicks it before every pot, but not whilst the pot is being worked on. The aim was 50 before lunch, and at the rate he was going, it could have been an early one.

Today he was making the bodies of some mugs. The weather is so hot here that they will be ready for handles in two hours! I have never seen someone so accurate throwing off the hump. He managed to get the amount of clay just right each time: 250g ish.

To measure them Nagaraj has an ingenious device: two cocktail sticks, stuck together. One measures the height, one the width. He uses a piece of soft leather for the rims. 

Oh and here are a couple of pics of their kiln: