Vistit to Golden Bridge Pottery, Pondicherry

Adil Writer, who my last post focused on, recommended I visit the Golden Bridge Pottery, just down the road in Pondicherry. Most of the potters in Auroville trained with Ray Meeker and Deborah Smith there. Its only half an houror so away.

An abridged history of them and the pottery: before coming to India, Deborah apprenticed for a year with Yamomoto Toshu in Bizen, and Ray studied architecture and ceramics. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram drew them to this corner of southeastern India. They opened in 1971, and became the first producers of hand thrown glazed stoneware in South India.

Over the years a plethora of excellent potters have come and teach at Golden Bridge, including; Jim Danisch, Mike Dodd and Betty Woodman. Everyone we met in Aurovile talked about Golden Bridge Pottery as an inspiring place, but when we got off the bus in Pondi, (supposedly nearby) no rickshaw driver knew where it was. We had to borrow a policeman's phone to call and get directions... the rickshaw driver wasn't happy because the policeman negotiated for us and we got a far cheaper ride than he would have given us alone. 

We arrived to find Ray, a very tall, friendly American, standing over a ginormous ceramic bust while one of his assistants meticulously scraped glaze off her muscular shoulders. The glaze had been applied incorrectly, so it had to be removed and re-applied. It was dusty work! He showed us around a bit, pointing out his collection of fabulous kilns: one massive 1400 cubic metre wood-fired kiln in which he fires large sculptural pieces, plus several smaller kilns and one very sweet anagama, made with a bamboo former.

Close up on the kiln bricks:

They produce a whole range of work; it's a proper working studio pottery. Here's a a ladle out of the bisque kiln:

Here is Deborah's kiln plan:


The Anagama:

They have a small shop on the premises which has some lovely pots in it:

We bought a beautiful, tiny teapot and got to meet the potter who made it (pictured below). He explained to me how he made such tiny lids and spouts. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are on the wall in the background.

Casserole dishes:

Stacks for the wood firing:

Bags of clay:

These are the drying pans, used after the clay is mixed to dry out:

Every summer, Ray and Deborah have a pottery course, and we got to see it in action. The course is 7 months long, and as we were leaving Ray asked if I'd like to come and teach it the following year. Tempting offer, but that's a while to be hanging out in Pondicherry!

Fresh off the wheel:

Traditional earthenware horses hang out in the grounds:

So this is my last post from India. I've been back awhile but just got round to finishing this. Lauren and I finished driving cross country, from L.A. to New York, and just moved into an apartment with a couple of friends. Here's a picture of what we spent all day putting together yesterday:

'Brimnes' by IKEA