What an emotional 9th week! So much so it’s taken me a few to recover and write this. The last few days in Nilambur were full of trying to soak up everything I possibly could....most especially spending time with all the lovely friends I’ve made. I also focussed some attention on the Malayalam dictionary and getting recipes for more of Sheeja’s incredible cooking. It was a whirlwind of farewells that are still making adjustments in my heart.
Before I knew it, Sherif and I were southbound on the train to Kochi to get the shipment of pots completed. I am glad there has been some time to cool down between this experience and writing about it. This was a very frustrating experience. It was also a great learning experience in numerous life subjects. Not all the pots were packed, crated and sealed into the container before I left which was a disappointment but it did get done when I was high in the sky on my way home to Canada. I also got an overnight in Dubai where I was able to reconnect with a lovely old friend from childhood days and get a little glimpse into some of the art going on there. Check out www.versusart.org to get a glimpse.
The most prominent feeling I felt during this week and beyond is that I my time in Nilambur is yet to be exhausted. I will be returning. The wheels are already spinning for next year:)
Now back in Dorset with the snow and rain. It’s amazing how quickly you can adjust to different lifestyles. I happily conform back to my Dorset life while trying to infuse it with habits and routines from the Nilambur adventure. Waiting until middle of May when the shipping container will arrive and we’ll see how well everything was packed up. Although life will be a little less exotic now that I’m back in Canada I still hope to continue to document life as a passionate potter. This has been an unforgettable ride that I feel lucky to have been able to share and I look forward to seeing where life takes me next. big love,
When I was booking my train ticket to get back to Nilambur the travel agent told me about a pottery village a short distance away. Seeing as I'm almost always in the mood for pots.....it was an offer to good to refuse. A 20 km rickshaw ride to the village of Thozhukkal brought me to yet another inspiring site. I was told there are many families working out of their homes as well but this was the central 'factory' of 14 employees making flower pots, vases and much more. I was excited to see several women working on electric powered wheels as it's the first time in India I've seen female potters. In my experience...the wheel is the man's job and women do the finishing and creating of hand built pieces. Everyone was super friendly and showed me all over including their several huge wood fired kilns and pug mill. I love that when I asked where the clay came from they walked me around the one side of the main building where there was just a huge hole carved out of the ground. A few women were scraping the clay into low metal dishes and then balancing it on their heads. Climbing out of the hole they walked to the pug mill where it was unloaded and squeezed out the other side......ready for making pots! I tried to imagine how fit i'd be if that was how I went about getting my clay. My thoughts quickly turned to making miniature everything and seeing how many things I could make with the smallest pieces of clay possible.
After the pottery visit it was on to the train station and my sleeper cabin for the night time ride to Nilambur. Train left at 10:30 pm .... I was asleep by 11 and woke the next morning at 7...just in time for my 7:30 arrival. The only bummer about the trip was that I opted for the air conditioned sleeper which I think was the reasoning behind me getting an annoying head cold complete with fever. Even though I spent the next day in bed with the sweats I did learn about a classic Indian remedy to get rid of a fever. The name is 'chuku kapi' and consists of a concentrated coffee (kapi) drink boiled with tulsi (aka holy basil), dried ginger, black pepper and a bunch of dark cane sugar. The incredible Sheeja was there to the rescue once again to make a batch of this drink and force me to drink it every hour. I think she knew I might not drink it if she didn't sit at my bedside and watch it go down:) The next morning I awoke feeling much better and ready to get out of bed.
Now it was time to plan a little gathering. I have been wanting to do something nice for the wonderful folks I've been lucky enough to call my friends these past few months. A sunday canadian brunch is what was decided upon. I brought some maple syrup with me from home and now was my chance to share it. French toast, stewed cinnamon apples and a Canadian playlist was shared on the roof top of my home. It was so fun to finally be making food for others AND have a positive response. I do love cooking so much and bringing people together with food. This day was also the perfect excuse to wear my sari. I've been wanting to wear it but it always feels like you must be so careful wearing it as it is only a long piece of cloth and what happens if you step on it the wrong way and it falls apart in the street? Not that I've ever seen a woman's sari fall off her in the street but there's always a first! Anyway...it was perfect to have the guests arriving while some of my other friends were busy fussing over my outfit and the gathering was a hit. Some fun photos were taken although non of the food as it didn't seem nearly as exciting as all the things I've had cooked for me here. I had imagined giving a toast....sharing some music and heartfelt words. That didn't really happen as people were coming and going at different times and I was busy cooking and getting drinks. After the fact...I'm glad there was no time for toasting as I am 100% positive I would have been in tears. Every time I start to think about saying goodbye to this overwhelming place........I fall apart a bit...or a lot. For the most part I can recognize my emotions as something to express and not hold in. Life seems more full and gratifying when you just say what you feel and don't worry about how you look or sound doing it. That being said...I am not ready to open those flood gates quite yet. The days are slipping by so fast I know the time is coming whether I feel ready or not. The goodbyes will be sweet as I have a feeling this wont be my last trip to these parts. Only one more blog post to go before I'm on my homeland soil once again. xo t
The days all rolled into one for this week plus a few days:) I settled in easily to my room with a view and the daily routine of 8 am yoga and 2 pm ayurvedic massage treatments. Between these times I found myself sitting at oceanside restaurants taking in the salty air, painting water colours in my malayalam dictionary, swimming, reading, learning some new uke songs along with making new friends from France, Turkey, Denmark, Japan, USA, Wales, Poland and of course India. Went exploring one day with my Turkish friend up to the top of the candy cane striped lighthouse and over to the part of town where locals live away from the tourists. The fishing boats in the harbour and pulled along shore were literally every colour of the rainbow. The smell from all the different kinds of waste discarded at the water made it difficult to spend much time taking in the sights but it was still beautiful.
The entire length of the beach where I was staying is lined with shops and restaurants. I wasn’t to interested in doing any more money spending as I’ve bought quite a few pots but as the days pressed on....I couldn’t help myself. First it was a few pairs of ali baba pantaloons and then some sarongs and before I knew it....my bag was full to overflowing. I also had a few tops made in linen and cotton. Thinking I might get my seamstress friend Viji in Nilambur to make me some more with the same pattern and different materials. I’m imagining the shelves back in Dorset filling up with not only new pots but some brightly-coloured-summer-lounging-on-the-dock-attire. Shopping around made me think about home even more as I kept thinking about loved ones and who might like what as a gift.
Finally, a little about the place I stayed.... Wilson's Ayurvedic Beach Resort was a friendly, quiet and lovely spot to hang out for 10 days. 7 of them were spent doing 8:00-9:30 rooftop yoga and then 2-3 ayurvedic treatments of oil massage for 30 mins and then another treatment like Shiro Dara where warmed oil is streamed across your forehead by pouring oil into a suspended clay pot with a little hole in the bottom with a string. This oil is continuously streamed back and forth across your forehead as means to deeply relax mind and body. Helps for sleep also. I also received a traditional foot massage where someone stands on the massage table and holds on to a rope attached to the ceiling. They massage you with great amounts of oil with their feet and the pressure is incredible. As for the yoga, my teacher Varun had a great way of pushing you far enough to sweat really great but also enough relax time to come back to the next pose. It left me feeling stronger and more engaged going forward. The prices for rooms, treatments and yoga are all super affordable and the staff are super friendly. And they have a great clean pool too:)
Kovalum has been a great tara-time holiday and the perfect thing to motivate creative expression going forward. It will be interesting to see how I feel about returning to Kerala when I get back to Canada. RIght now I can see returning here for several months in the years ahead and building the kiln I want without the restrictions and cost like in Canada. I imagined fruit trees and spice gardens. I imagined evenings with candles on an open air rooftop with music, quiet and hammocks. Feeling in an inspired space right now. That being said....I hear it's snowing again in Dorset so sending extra warm vibes your way. Looking forward to this last week back in Nilambur to soak up the experience and tie up loose ends. I'm coming home soon:) xo t
Writing from a very different point of view this week. Sitting in a funky second story restaurant called “Beatles” where it’s the theme of the music. Looking out to the ocean where hundreds of Indians and foreigners alike enjoy a relaxing sunday on the beach. Im in Kovalum....about 450km from Nilambur. Almost at the very southern tip of India now. Im here for holiday time, to reflect on my journey so far and to get myself mentally prepared for the final leg of this trip and returning home. I feel a kind of culture shock in that this is the first time in 6 weeks to see other foreigners. The Indian food here doesn’t have the same spice...in fact non at all. The prices for everything are ten fold and I’m not the special token ‘siape‘ (foreigner in Malayalam) anymore. I’ve lost my star power and it comes with mixed feelings. I came here partially to escape the constant attention and I find myself missing it a little but even more I miss the daily interactions with my Nilambur friends.
So let me back up to where I left off last week. A few more kiln loads were fired to get pieces up to temperature and therefor strength that is acceptable to my standards:) Days were spent packing boxes of my own work as well as visiting the other locations in the area that I have purchased things to ship home. Wednesday we loaded the truck in the afternoon to be able to make an early start Thursday morning. The first clay shop we arrived at had me in the back of the truck up to my knees in straw. After loading my personal boxes, the next load of 150 flower pots were carefully wrapped in straw by yours truly and nestled into the back. Luckily the next shop had some labour I could get to load the rest of the flower pots and bowls. Feeling excited about the following days adventure I stayed up half the night making lists and packing for the journey. I needed to prepare extra as I would be leaving this home that I have become so comfortable in for more then just the trip to Kochi. Leaving for close to 2 weeks so I could continue on south after Kochi to Kovalum for holiday time.
Thursday morning started out early as a 6am rickshaw pick up with Sherif to get some travel time in before the heat of midday. Our driver was super sweet and I am constantly surprised at the kinds of questions that are asked to Sherif about me. What I eat seems to be a constant conversation topic along with how I can handle the heat of the climate. People are always so thrilled to hear my meagre attempts at the language. It’s impossible to describe the size smile and look of surprise that spreads over anyones face when I offer up the few phrases I’ve come to learn. The overwhelmingly positive response encourages me to continue asking questions and learning.
It was a great ride and I loved the point of view seeing the sights from such an elevated level from the cab of the truck. It was priceless to see the look of surprise on other drivers faces to see me sitting in the front seat. I joked I would probably cause an accident with the surprise to the other drivers when I was offered (jokingly) if I wanted to drive the truck. We stopped a few times for food and pick up more pots I’d put deposits on in the previous trip. After arriving to the storage facility.... everything was unloaded with the help of at least 15 men and discussed further arrangements for the upcoming weeks. I keep having to shake my head to figure out if I’m dreaming on this adventure. This was a big day in my mind and it went so smoothly I felt great comfort in thinking ..... this is supposed to be happening. Everything is falling into place. The question ‘How did I get so lucky?‘ passes through my mind countless times daily.
Spend the night in Kochi and hopped on the 9:30am train the next morning for Trivandrum. Arriving in at 3:00pm and taking a 45 min rickshaw drive to the beach. I remembered the sites and landmarks from my last year adventure here. I returned to the same Wilsons Ayurvedic Retreat just a street back from the beach. Thanks to facebook...my yoga teacher and Ayurvedic doctor remembered me from last year and I was instantly at ease that I had arrived to the right spot once again. Not exactly sure how long I will spend here but at least a week...maybe 10 days.
That’s it. The sun has set and I’ve eaten my pakoras and drunken my first Kingfisher beer since arriving in India. Tomorrow morning rooftop yoga. Im trying to soak up everything but the end feels so close I find myself already planning my arrival back to Toronto and all the lovely people I want to embrace. It’s one of the wonderful things about travel when you have an incredible home, family and friends to return to. It’s to soon to get bittersweet quite yet. Until next week. much love. xo t
Feeling a little deja vu as I begin to recall the past week with the power out again. This time is night and it’s been out for hours. I see it as the perfect opportunity to try out my new candle houses fresh out of the kiln yesterday to light the kitchen. With the help of Sheeja I learn to cook dosha by candle light. Dosha is a thin pancake made from a pureed rice batter. This same batter is also used to cook idilli and velapum and they all have the same purpose....to soak up curries, chutneys, sambars and whatever else you desire. They are also sometimes sprinkled with sugar in the morning and eaten with tiny sweet bananas along with chai.
I thought I would take this time to describe what a typical evening for me is like here. Most often greeted with sweet smiling faces both young and old and handed my house key that I leave at my neighbor Sheeja’s incase I am late to return home and she can start dinner prep without me. Then it is to the kitchen for cold lime or mango juice with ice. Unpack my bags including lunch tiffin (metal tins clasped together to hold the assorted delights for my midday meal). Then it is time for shower/bucket bath. The water in the house is gravity fed so every few days I turn on the pump to fill the large black plastic water tank on the roof from the well. Morning showers are cool but evening showers are hot, hot, as the water has been heated by the sun. I sometimes wish I could switch the temperatures of morning and eve but the feeling of washing in water warmed by the sun is wonderful even if the air is also a humid 33 degrees. After washing I dress in a traditional Kerala woman's work dress called a maxi. I wrote about it earlier as I didn't realize when I first got them that you were to only wear them around the house and not out in public as I did:) So now im in my brightly coloured floor length maxi and delicious smells are coming from the kitchen....mostly cooking onions with garlic, green chillis and coconut oil. These seems to be a theme in the beginning of much of the meals I am eating. Often Sheeja's children (4 girls age 7-18) and other neighbouring ladies with their little boys come to hang in the kitchen during cooking. It's a time I look forward to greatly as it's wonderful to connect over the food and also get help with my Malayalam dictionary that grows daily. It's a time for acting out stories from our day and answering questions about what things are like in Canada vs. India. After eating I am left alone to reflect on the day and connect with friends and family via the wonderful world wide web I am blessed with in this home. No matter what time I crawl into bed I always do a pretty close inspection of the bed as the insects I have experienced are much larger then ones I'm used to. I wont lie....I get pretty freaked out by some of the spiders and cockroaches I've had to deal with:)
The week flew by once again and it has been a transition of preparing to get things back to Canada. Two kiln loads were fired over 4 days and it looks like one more load will be done this upcoming Monday for pots that didn't get as hot as we'd like to give them more strength. I kind of lost my cool at the end of the week when I picked up a candle house and it broke in my hand and smashed on the ground. I got upset with those around me for not being more clear about the firing process and was feeling super frustrated. I took some deep breaths and realized I was frustrated at myself for not understanding the language and the process more and it wasn't any ones fault. I keep saying this is a learning process and an experiment but when something happened I didn't like the outcome of I lost sight of that experimentation attitude. What is learning but making mistakes and moving in new directions because of them? I am humbled and reopening to this more positive way of going through this experience.
At risk of going on and on I must touch on one more topic this week. I visited the hamlet of Aruvacode that lies just on the edge of Nilambur. I had the great honour of spending several days here last year connecting with a local potter and his family while attempting to throw some pots on their stick powered wheel. The tradition of potters in this village dates back centuries to when royalty in northern India valued their potters skill so much they brought them with them when they migrated down here in the deep south. These people are called Kumbham. Instantly when I step food in this place I want to remove my flip flops and walk barefoot as many of the people here do to stay connected to their roots...to mother earth. I have come to connect with clay workers I met last time and to meet new ones. Living in a world of plastic, paper and styrofoam has been hard on their craft along with a lack of education in how to connect to a market that appreciates their fine work. Traditionally the potters are men and the women do the finishing and design work. The Kumbham women I have met are so dedicated to their craft and interest in making new designs. There are other steady jobs they could take provided by the government but instead the few that are left would rather stick it out with their passion that is creating in clay. We come from completely different worlds but we have a lot in common.....we are both strong motivated women that love to work in clay. I visited their work site and was able to purchase many of their pieces to bring home and see tons of examples of pieces that could be special ordered in the future. I felt a connection as soon as I met these ladies last year and it has only grown deeper this time round. I don't want to be some foreigner coming in to 'help' them but instead I want a mutually beneficial situation of learning and growing. I have had many insightful conversations on what kind of a role we could play for each other and the past few nights my head has begun to spin in the possibilities that lay ahead for us both.
The closing to this week was gathering packaging materials and starting the packing process. This coming week will be several days of packing pots and figuring out where we can store it all in Kochi as plans to travel there on Thursday are in the works. Another great week complete with highs and lows I wouldn't trade for anything. much love. t
It is Sunday of week 4 as I write and the power is out as it happens on a daily basis. Sometimes for only a minute or two and others for hours on end. This happens to be one of the longer times which is perfect for writing and editing photos as I’m not distracted with an internet connection:) Due to last Sunday’s big day...I took monday off to relax and get caught up on sleep and laundry. A wonderful evening meal at Sheeji's house to prepare for early Tuesday start at 6:00am for a train ride to Kochi. Sherif and I headed into the city to explore other clay product purchasing possibilities. The 5 hour train ride was long and hot. Our first place to visit was a small ‘factory’ of clay pots of all shapes and sizes. Even though they had many things and I enjoyed seeing their set up....there weren’t many pieces I liked that were for sale as they were orders for others so we were given the name of another place down the road. For all the travel and effort...there seemed to be little reward in terms of finding pieces I liked that were available for sale. Countless bus , taxi and rickshaw rides to surrounding areas... we finally stopped at 8pm to spend the night in the town of Thrissur. The hotel was 4 star and although at first I wasn’t prepared to spend the money they were asking....it didn’t take long to negotiate a great deal. A night of luxury after an exhausting day. When I awoke the next morning I had a great feeling in the pit of my stomach ....TODAY would be the day to find great deals on pots that were available and as it turns out .... it was! Both days continued along in a similar way as each place led us to small home studios and roadside stands. I put deposits on several groupings of pots to return in a few weeks to pick them up. Now the work must really begin to figure out how all of these things are getting safely to Dorset!
Returning home late Wednesday feeling like the trip was a success. Thursday was a quiet day in the studio....finishing candle stands and dreaming of shipping containers and packaging materials. Friday felt like a research day so I did some internet searching while there was power and learning new uke songs & yoga when there was none. There are 2 stores in town here that sell clay pots so we went to discuss purchases there and decided upon some great smallish flower pots as well as pretty floral tiles. Then it was off to a school function in a neighbouring town. The schools 23rd anniversary where they had erected a huge stage with lights & a sound system that would put most rock concerts I’ve seen in Canada to shame. There were upwards of 1000 people in attendance as all the families were there to watch their children dance and sing. It was especially hard to edit the photos for this because I literally have hundreds. The children were heart-meltingly adorable with their costumes and when I went behind stage to say hi and snap a few photos I really didn’t want to leave. I was asked to say a few words in the beginning of the ceremony which was a little scary to be on stage in front of such a large crowd but.....I loved it! I sometimes dream of being on stage performing - be it music, comedy or a lecture and it was fun to imagine myself in the future. We were there until well after the the bedtimes I imagined these young children having and finally left before its finish as my ears were literally starting to ache from the voltage of sound coming from the speakers!
Saturday was a fun filled day connecting to students and teachers at Peevee’s Public School which is an english speaking boarding school located very close to my home. Sherif and I along with pottery guru Manjeri and his student Krishna were there to help connect the kids to their “Earth is Worth” program. I was honoured to be there and the kids were all so respectful and full of wonder. A majority of the children had never made things with clay before so it was especially fun to see them excel at experimenting with this new medium. Word had gotten out about my little musical performance from last week so I was also asked to sing a few songs which I found I was a little more comfortable doing. I’m beginning to like the feeling of a microphone in my hand:) It was also fun getting a tour of the school after class and sharing stories of my own boarding school experience. Many teachers were encouraging me to bring teacher friends back with me so if there’s any teachers out there looking for a totally different experience....this school has my stamp of approval.
Okay....my writings are getting so long. Going to have to learn to edit more but for now this will have to do. mMuch love to all and thanks for sharing this amazing experience with me through your notes and good vibes. xo t
Im well in to week 4 and realizing I still haven't posted all from last week. I'll try to remember as best as I can but luckily pictures worth a 1000 words and I obviously am not lacking in that department! The week mostly blended together so quickly because I spent so much time in the studio. With this style of wood firing.....the pots are all stacked on top of one another with no glaze and therefor if you want a nice finish to your pots you've got to be prepared to spend a lot of time rubbing them! Production was the name of the game this week and with the help of a few talented folks we were able to pull together many candle houses, finish my big ladies and 3 different heights of pillar candle stands. The kiln also was fired early in the week which a few of Sherif's fern murals were in along with many other custom orders he is working on. Still working on how to increase the size of the kiln to get some of these larger pieces in.
In other news....Sherif wants to help tourism in Nilambur as it has lots to offer but it hasn't really been organized to make it user friendly. 'Experience Back to Earth' is the idea and it will consist of website and promotional material to highlight all the attractions of this beautiful part of the world. Part of this experience will be working with clay....learning mural making techniques along with the traditional stick powered pottery wheel. It also includes accomodation, waterfall adventures, fish farms, worlds oldest teak forest and museum, rubber tree farming, ayurvedic spa treatments along with incredible food & entertainment. I'll link to more info on this later as it comes together. In the mean time..... he held a press release that I got to be a part of to help be the face of a foreign traveller that agrees this is a place worth visiting as well as be inspired to create art. I really had no idea what to expect when going to this press release and although it was pretty small...it felt very official and definatly made me feel like a bit of a star.
So that is a glimpse of the week and then there was Sunday! This was the day to kick off 'Experience Back to Earth" at the studio where so many interesting and talented members of the community came to support this new venture. Along with speeches and displaying lots of the pots I've made since arriving we also hosted a clay class for kids of whom about 25 participated. The class was great and I really find connecting with kids so fulfilling no matter the skill level or language barrier. They were super interested and creative. The only challenging part was constantly being called 'madam' and looking over my shoulder to see who they were calling to only to realize it was me! From this experience I've been asked to teach a class with the kids at a local boarding school that is exciting on many levels. Im pumped to be able to go on campus of an Indian boarding school and see differences and similarities from my high school boarding school experience:)
One other thing I want to speak to this week is my experience with music here. I love Indian music and although I cannot understand the lyrics ... I love the wavering sound of a singers voice and the high tones both men and women use. I brought my ukelele with me on this trip and even though I have been shy to play for many people and most especially shy to sing in the past.... this trip has opened my heart to expressing myself musically. I wont go so far as to say I'm anything great but the feeling of expressing myself through music and being able to share it is so new and incredible. On Sunday I was asked to bring my uke and play/sing a few tunes which I did and I also go to accompany a lovely man sing some Malayalum love songs with my uke.
I love doing things that scare me. It makes me feel alive and the kind of high I get boosts self confidence and love. I'd go so far as to say I'm slightly addicted to it. This step into musical expression is one that has scared me greatly but I'm finding my confidence and I could't be more happy about it. It is also a wonderful thing to be able to connect when language barriers make deep conversations difficult/impossible.
Wow...I knew this trip would empower me but it's exceeding my expectations. My wish is that anyone who is reading this finds something that challenges them....face it and bask in the glory of self love and acceptance. We are all as strong as we believe we are. xo t
A whole new set of adventures in week 2. This week I moved to a new home all my own. The first week I lived with a lovely couple that run a homestead called Eadens Hermitage. While visiting Nilambur last year, I was lucky enough to spend 10 days in this old traditional teak home. The consistently thoughtful Renu and her husband Dr. Thomas were gracious hosts. Providing me with home cooked meals and friendship. They also took me to a movie…my first theatre experience to see Om Shanti Oshana and although it was all in Malayalam….it was pretty easy to understand and super entertaining. I look forward to going back in the coming weeks to see another. As great as my first home was, after getting accustomed to things again here it was time to branch out on my own and get my own private residence.
Now I am living in a home to myself with sweet as sweet neighbours that are on the lookout for my safety, comfort and have already become deeply rooted in my heart. The mother in the family - Sheeja has been showering me with delicious meals every evening and I'm trying my best to document their prep in order to recreate these dishes at home. Something tells me as much as I will attempt the curries, sambar, roti & dosa (to name a few)….. her added ingredient of love and pride in her creations will be impossible to duplicate. I'm a little further outside of town now which is great to have nature surrounding me and the simple rural life. Rubber trees abound and men on motorbikes honk their horn daily as they ride past selling fish, vegetables & milk. Directly across the road from me is a tiny Hindu temple that plays loud joyous music every morning at 6am and again at 5:30 pm. I thought the morning music might be a little frustrating at times but it has proven to be the perfect alarm clock. Not usually dragging myself out of bed until closer to 7 but its nice to start the day with such upbeat tunes.
Studio work has been progressing nicely as well. The stick powered pottery wheel is still taking some getting used to but i love it. If I want to ship this stuff home at a reasonable rate I have to have a pretty large quantity of product. I'm realizing I can't and don't want to crank out the pots like a machine as I had first envisioned. Instead, I have been researching other locally made pots that I can purchase to add to my own creations for the Dorset studio. Along with my own pieces…. I have enlisted the help of pottery guru Narianah that has been potting for over 50 years. He is making more vessels for candle's and I'm thinking I will decorate them with holes and drawings. Wheel thrown and coil building large female forms have also been driving my creativity. Meanwhile, I have been learning more about Sherif's tile mosaic master pieces. He has a friendly and super talented staff that help to bring his ideas to life. Although much of his work is on the larger scale….we have been discussing ideas for smaller nature based pieces to bring home to Dorset. The first few designs have been completed and include many native to India fern motifs. It will be exciting to see how they look after they have been fired. Plans for expanding his kiln to accommodate a larger amount of pots and talk of a first firing taking place after another week of working.
I could go on and on….as there is so much to tell and describe but I'll end things here and check in again next week.
with love and gratitude
The smell of smoke was the first thing I noticed after stepping out of the airport in Kochi early on the morning of January 29th. It's a comforting smell…like summer campfires and winter wood stoves. Instantly I am homesick and feeling at home in the same breath. I have arrived! My dream of coming to India to make pottery has begun and I couldn't be more excited and more nervous. After 2 quick nights in Fort Kochi it is time to travel inland & north 190 km to Nilambur with my friend and talent clay artist Sherif. I am glad to have him by my side to negotiate the ferry and train ride among countless other reasons. It makes for an early morning when the train leaves at 7:30 and for those of you who know me…I am not a morning person by nature. Partial jet lag & partial excitement I can't sleep past 4am so I am more then ready to start this journey to the place that will be my home for the next 6 weeks.
This first week has flown by and yet SO much has been accomplished. I have zillions of ideas that I want to see become realities. I am constantly having to remind myself to slow down. Kinda been spinning out the past few months and this is the time to recharge. I'm going to try to keep my words brief. I hope you enjoy the images so far. It is my intension to do weekly updates. Fingers crossed the internet will be on my side. A big thanks to all those beautiful friends and family who have supported me with words of encouragement and love on this journey thus far. I hold you in my heart always. xo t
About This Journey
Combining my love of travel with my love of creating in clay comes this newest adventure. After spending 10 days in Nilambur last year during a 3 month exploration of India....I am returning to spend 9 weeks. Talented and generous clay artist - Sherif Nilambur invited me to share his studio space so here I am to take him up on his offer. The plan is loose in terms of what is being made and what will come of it but hearts are open so we can't go wrong.