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Breathing Life into the Dying Craft of Pottery

“The best way to experience life is to live it. When you are motivated to keep going, it will help you move away from the stagnancy in life,” said the founder of Lavender Ceramic, Janet Sim, when asked about what drives her passion for pottery. 

Collaborating with the Kraftangan Perak branch since 2004, Lavender Ceramic Sdn Bhd held its first pottery workshop just recently. Instead of merely supplying their products to the people, the founder of the factory, Janet Sim and her husband, Wu Ko Chi decided to introduce ceramic art to the community to spread the word about the beauty of pottery.

Janet sharing her story with participants

Having sold their products internationally in Japan and the United Kingdom, Janet expressed her gratitude towards Kraftangan Perak for giving them the opportunity to introduce their products to the global market via international fairs.  

Did you know that the glaze effect on ceramic is influenced by the types of clay bodies? Not only that, the type of clay used also affects the durability of the final ceramic, hence not all are suitable for pottery.

All the participants of the workshop had an opportunity to shape clay by hand. Each of us, including myself, was given a slab of clay to start off. Thanks to Marie Lai, the teacher of the class, I got to explore something fresh this new year and tried my hand at clay for the first time. 

Marie Lai

The necessary tools were provided for us, such as a knife to cut out the shape we want, a brush to assemble the parts and more. 

I managed to knead and roll out the slab until it was as even as I could get it. Although it didn’t turn out as circular as I expected, I still gave a round of applause to myself (always appreciate every little effort you make).

The slab was then rested on a piece of wooden plank, and we sunned it for roughly 10 minutes outside the workspace. 

I was on the phone with Mr. Wu the day before the workshop and he had told me to think about what I wanted to sculpt. I already had a duck candle holder in mind before he asked. Of course, it was only on the day itself that I realized that my idea was over-ambitious, so I went with a, I would like to call it, key dish with my name etched on the body of the plate. 

Marie was very patient at guiding me through every step even though I was such a klutz. Her advice is to always use your thumb (or index finger) to smooth the surface of the clay as well as make it clean and slick. The process is also to close up any holes or air bubbles.

Kiln-clay oven

Pottery-making technically goes through two firing processes. Marie explained that once the molding process is done, you can send your sculpture straight into the kiln-clay oven to bisque it (bisque firing is the first firing). 

Then, the biscuit (unglazed ceramic) is ready for coating, also referred to as glazing, for the finishing touch. Just dip the biscuit into the dyes you fancy and let it take its course. It will blow your mind to see the way the colours smear and blend after the second firing (glaze firing).


Why is ceramic considered so valuable? 

Unlike plastics and other man-made materials, ceramics cannot be substituted with chemicals. Ceramic makes good cookware as the products are completely toxin free, so no contaminants will seep into the food you are about to consume. 

Another reason why people worship this man-made clay material is because it is the second strongest substance after diamonds. 

However, sculpture art might not be able to make its way to the future and is in jeopardy of dying out due to a decline in clay resources and the dwindling passion for the craft as people pay more attention to digital activities. 

Embracing imperfections with pottery

Janet said pottery also teaches one the art of embracing imperfections. “We should learn to accept and appreciate the flaws in our artwork because that is what makes it unique. You can’t get it elsewhere; it’s as if the art is in a class by itself.

“And what’s so special about pottery is you are your own designer. You can shape it however you want it to be and it’s a way to express your taste,” she highlighted.

If you are looking to learn a new hobby or would like a unique gift for your loved ones, you can make an appointment to visit Lavender Ceramic Sdn Bhd. They are open from Monday to Saturday from 8am to 5pm. Contact Janet at 012-5127236 or check out their Facebook page


Gisele Soo


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