Revisiting Pottery Business in India

You’re walking on the streets of Jaipur, looking at the heritage, art and craft, suddenly your eyes fall on a man using clay and ceramic materials to make a vessel. This process, of using clay and ceramic materials to form vessels and other products of desired shapes is known as pottery and the artist is called a potter. The materials are fired at high temperatures in order to make them hard and durable. There are primarily three sectors where clay based pottery can be divided into- stoneware, earthenware and porcelain. Prior to shaping, clay is prepared, where the air is removed so that it has even moisture and the process is called de-airing which can be achieved by machines or by wedging which is manual. There are various methods for shaping like the potter’s wheel which is very common including hand shaping, jiggering and jolleying, injection moulding, granulate pressing, roller-head machine, pressure casting, 3D printing, slipcasting, RAM pressing etc. The pottery is also glazed and decorated with different techniques like painting, carving, burnishing, glazing etc.

India pottery, a timeless living craft, dates back to the Neolithic era and saw advancements during Indus civilisation, signalling its significance in our history and traditions. For a really long time, this was the staple business of many traditional pottery households. In present day India, the industry altogether has provided employment to a great section of society residing in urban as well as rural areas. It has contributed to the overall GDP of the country. India is an exporter of pottery too and exports the products to international markets like USA, Honk Kong, Japan, Mexico, Germany. Having said this, the industry is now facing issues in keeping up with the fast pacing world and technology. Potters still use conventional methods of pottery, while this perhaps is the beauty of the industry, but it also creates a blockage in catering to the market demands. Its emphasis, importance and vision to make this industry flourish and prosper can be seen by looking at the curriculum of interior designing and sculpture painting which has included pottery for teaching.

Uttar Pradesh is credited for making this industry conquer new heights by having 600 units. Many terms modern India pottery as “Terracotta Handicrafts” whose main seller is Orrisa. The manufacturing cost of such handicrafts are often low posing an advantage to those potters whose soul income is from pottery. In fact, the raw materials required like kachi mitti for earthen pots, clay etc are easily available and accessible.

Government’s attention towards eco-friendly products has also created an advantage to the pottery industry as most materials used are eco-friendly and plastic free. In fact, in an article published in The Indian Express, they highlighted “Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC) launched bamboo water bottles, and usage of bio-degradable cutlery. The ministry of railways has also re-introduced usage of kulhars instead of plastic cups”.

Market players of the industry:

  • Palam Potteries: Manufacturer of pottery products.
  • HiItkari Potteries
  • Pelican Pottery
  • Jaipur Glass Industries
  • Heritage Pottery

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