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03.10.2018

“If your call goes unanswered, it means my hands are full of clay,” Rohit Kulkarni warns, when we set up a phone interview for 5 pm.

True to his forewarning, he does not answer our call until 5.20 pm, and we don’t mind because he was busy glazing a teapot at the time. “I love making teapots so much, I think the Queen of England should visit us for tea just to drink from them.”

This mad hatter is part of a triumvirate of ceramists that run Curators of Clay, a Pune based small-batch ceramics studio that has become quite the darling of the Indian restaurant scene, supplying crockery to Mumbai’s buzzy new Rue du Liban, Masque, Kala Ghoda Café, Arth, Typhoon Shelter; and Bangalore’s Third Way Roasters.

Four years ago, Rohit and his co-founder Bhairavi Naik met at a potters’ place in Mumbai, decided to give up their day jobs in film and advertising and move to Pune to start a studio. “We don’t work with karigars, we are the karigars,” Rohit says of their hands-on approach, right before introducing Ameya, their former-student-turned-partner who joined these potters after a few years. A sort of third wheel, one might say.

“F**k that. All I want to do is make pretty pots.”

Glazy Days

If you’ve browsed Curators of Clay’s Instagram page, you’ve seen their blushing hand-rolled platters; ocean-speckled mugs; and moss green cereal bowls. The idea is to make art for everyday use, and stay away from Indian kitsch. “If you want a handi, go to a traditional potter. If you want a sexy sake carafe, come to us,” Rohit says.

This month, Curators of Clay is finally launching an online store that will only go live for four days every month to sell the studio’s current edit. It opens for business at the end of October – exact dates will be up on their Instagram page soon - and Rohit tells us to watch out for their porcelain lamps. “When fired above 1300 degrees, the porcelain turns into a gorgeous translucent version of itself,” he says, lighting up like a Diwali cracker himself.

Of course they’d love to have a brick and mortar store displaying all their wares – “customers peeping in through the windows” - maybe even go the investor route and scale up the brand, but then Rohit doubts whether he and his partners will still get to remain “karigars”.

“F**k that. All I want to do is make pretty pots.”

Getting there: Curators of Clay, e-store launches end of the October, follow them on Facebook and Instagram for exact launch dates and regular updates. Mugs start at Rs 200, cereal bowls start at Rs 600, teapot starts at Rs 2,200.

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