Shirin Mehta Notes. Drawing by Anish Fnu. Styling by Sarah Rajkotwala. Art direction by Aishwaryashree
Rajvi Mehta, 31 years old
Clothing Designer and Potter
Working with tangible tools has always been fun for me. It was originally textile, so I spent five years at the National Institute of Design [NID], Ahmedabad, learning to knit, print, dye, change fabrics, build on top, and so on. At the end of four years, I created a project using Minim Design stones. Re-working with clay and the dramatic transition that goes from raw to hot, made me try to shape the pot.
I had the opportunity to be trained as a studio potter under Ray Meeker and Deborah Smith at the Golden Bridge Pottery in Pondicherry in 2019. Now I am asking as a weaver, especially in the home area, to run a pottery studio, making handicrafts. .
What is your creative approach?
I like throwing pieces, not tying hands. I try to make glitter myself, but I usually use ready-made ones. I tried to use what I had when I started my career. It was a plan of what you could do and what you would find. Gradually, I see a style that pushes me to try harder on this aspect – looking at the local clay, other materials.
I love looking at my pieces and trying to add more notes to my checklist. Unusual glazes and simple but functional shapes are what I lean on.
What enhances your style and silhouettes? Do you record this before or after the walk?
Much of my encouragement comes from the things I experienced while studying. Sometimes, when selling tea or a store, I see something and think, Hey, I have to try to do this. I draw the forms in the book, do a few experiments, and see what comes naturally to me as I throw in the multiplication. The design stays in place at the beginning, and the look gets bigger as I try the same thing over and over again. Right now, I really like throwing tumblers with the floor.
What has the making of clay made for you?
In Pondicherry, I encountered a journey of an object, a physical sculpture to form a shape. I return to this all the time, as I mentioned, my first education. The thread can be twisted, spun, straightened and assisted to form the shape. Clay can be similarly made or solid, and the similarity of clay fascinates me. Paper, cloth and clay – all with such a rich purpose, history and intimate relationship with the hands of the manufacturer.
Do you always want to be creative, even when you are a kid?
I have noticed that when I am not working as a client in fabrics or pots, I like to spend time in the field – repotting, checking for bugs, adding compost…. There are so many types of “house repairs” that happen all the time – like making macrame pots or sewing new curtains! I think this also comes from watching mothers around the house constantly fixing things and asking for our help as children.
What role does art and design play in your life? Does your work enter into memories of childhood in any way?
My mother has always been very supportive, along with my grandmother. He taught me at an early age knitting, knitting, painting, sewing, knitting and making my own. My father made sure that we traveled almost every year to a city or country. There, we visited museums, markets, and street shows. My mother would stop to see how the craftsman made his goods, always asking a lot of questions. I think his question made me stop and listen.
What do you wear when you work?
I wear the best everyday clothes like a soft cotton T-shirt and stretch pants, and a potter’s apron sewn for my mom.
How does your style of being out-of-work? Does your skill inform your appearance in any way?
I think I’m really used to wearing clothes that I feel comfortable with. Closing the door made it easier to stick in this way. So, you will often find me in long skirts or simple cotton dresses. Or pajamas and T-shirts! Also, considering that I work with fabrics, I tend to take different or printed cotton fabrics wherever I go, which I have attached in simple photos.
Is there any kind of Indian ceramic culture that you like? That you get inspiration from?
Another day, I found a beautiful diary thrown on wheels with a glass top. I have tried to continue this and make my own type of tea lamp. But everywhere, I see the need to explore more of the cultural diversity, history of pottery and sculpture.
Do you have a favorite piece you made? Why do you like it more than others?
I went to an assembly where a New Zealand architect, Elena Renker, showed us how to make pots using the Kurinuki method. The plate of dishes I made then changed my mind about what handmade techniques can accomplish. They are lightweight, but they are strong for them, the contrast is beautiful.
Do the pieces always remain the way you think?
The opening of each furnace is amazing. And honestly, at first glance I don’t like any of my pieces. It takes me a while to get it, look at it, move it around in different places in the house, see it in different colors, and then it starts to grow on me.
What are you trying to do right now?
I am trying to find a working clay body using broken, flammable clay tools all into powder. Burned ceramics do not damage at all. That is why we find pottery in archeological sites. My long-term goal is to use more local or recycled materials in clay or glaze to reduce the effects that occur in the world.
What ideas feed your skills?
I have to be at peace with myself, body and mind, in order to be creative. This is one of the reasons I started gardening, growing my own food, and yoga. I make my own computer and try things out to stay healthy. For some time, I did not pay attention to the signs that my body and mind were asking me to slow down, to be a little more calm with them. But, well, it is not too late!