The Joy of Pottery with Shalan Dere

This is one of those rare instances when one has been inspired enough to move the cheese and sign-up for a pottery workshop! After all – if our supremely talented partner artist Shalan Dere – could discover her love for pottery after years of running her own company and nurturing her family, there is hope for us all!

Today – it is an honour and privilege for us to share the life and work of Shalan Dere – which she retails under the brand name “Potter’s Place”.

A post graduate in management from the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management – Shalan began working with her husband in their company which dealt in the trading of textile machinery. Her discovery of pottery happened in her early 40’s – when on the suggestion of her daughter she joined pottery classes conducted by Sandeep Mausekar.

It was then that Shalan realised her true calling. Her journey in to the world of pottery began with learning how to “throw clay on the wheel” in her home, working every evening on her newly installed potter’s wheel. At that time pottery was a hobby, but slowly Shalan began to experience the immense satisfaction that came with her effort. She realised that she wanted to go beyond pottery as a hobby – and work with clay full-time. And so she began to wind down her involvement in the family company and took to pottery full time.


She nostalgically recalls “I slowly drifted towards hand-building, shaping clay with my hands, and that allowed free rein to my creativity because it gave me complete freedom of expression in contrast to wheel pottery. Absence of any formal training allowed me to go through a rewarding process of trial, error and creative experimentation over the years”.

In those days since there was no kiln available in the neighbourhood, Shalan would drive 70 kilometres every weekend, with her unbaked works to the studio of the famous potters, Ajit and Pratima Vaidya, in Ishalgud, Karjat to fire her creations. It was there that she learnt the techniques of firing and mixing the glaze.

Shalan shares her insights on what makes her work truly meaningful. She believes that a potter is at the mercy of elements like water and fire. This is part of the unpredictable nature of the craft – thus putting things beyond one’s control. But it is precisely this challenge that makes the creative journey even more enjoyable. As she laughingly says – “After the agony – the ecstasy follows”.

Believing that creativity is part of our lives, Shalan’s experience of working with clay has given her a sense of serenity – which is unmatched – given that she gets intensely absorbed in crafting clay and bringing different forms to life.

It is delightful to hear Shalan talk about her passion. Her inspiration comes from nature and people. She staunchly believes that the joy of working with clay is the perfect reflection of her attitude to life. As she eloquently says “Clay is malleable, it responds to every touch, and you can make wonderful and unexpected shapes with it – very much like life, which gives back as much joy, energy and creativity as you put in! I find clay an amazing medium, especially because of its responsiveness to the subtlest of touches”.

If one looks at Shalan’s work – the absence of rigidity, standard techniques and theoretical inputs ensures that her creative style remains simple, fluid, inspired by everyday situations and representative of her desire to engage in a dialogue with clay. Contemporary potters have had an influence on her work – and teaching pottery once in a while comes as a nice break from an otherwise solitary occupation.

Today her studio in Mumbai houses the work of her brand “ Potter’s Place. “ Working mainly with stoneware and terracotta, she formulates her own glazes. The work of Shalan Dere has been widely exhibited and her studio is almost always abuzz with pottery lovers ranging from novice students to connoisseurs from all walks of life including a number of Bollywood stars !

Our selection of Shalan’s work showcased on the WorldArtCommunity, includes a curated selection of stoneware and ceramic figurines, wall hangings, wall murals, objet d’art – all in her signature earth colours and glazes in elegant shades of greens, blues and browns.

Be a part of Shalan’s world at the Potter’s Place Store 

Information Sources:
Shalan Dere’s website

Leave a Reply