Pottery In Doha

With a scarcity of things to do in Doha during Ramadan, my Thursday night was spent attending a pottery workshop; and it didn’t disappoint! It was organized by ENTALEK, a group that specializes in eco tours, like kayaking and snorkeling. The workshop, however, was hosted by ENTALEK founder Steve Rhodes’ wife, Sveta, who started pottery more than a decade ago, when she realized that there’s a lack of arts and crafts activities in Qatar.

The workshop was held at the Museum of Islamic Art’s (MIA) Al Riwaq exhibition hall. It was an intimate class of twenty, and was a mix of children, old and young couples, and groups of friends. I came with my fellow “Londoner”, Agie, who was as excited as I am about pottery. Certified tita lang. Hahaha!

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Agie waiting for her turn to register. 🙂

I liked how the introductions were kept at a minimum, so we had more time to actually work hands-on. There were only seven wheels available for everyone to use, and while waiting for our turn, we practiced on another clay-making art called “coiling”. You don’t need any equipment here; just a lump of clay, and your (think Spongebob) imagination. :p It’s like playing with Play-Doh! Too bad I didn’t get to take a picture of the two little girls who were doing coiling with us. They were so adorable! I felt like we were classmates in art class. Hahaha!

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We are obviously enjoying this.
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My work of art. I call it “The Ashtray”. :p

I originally wanted to make an Iron Throne, but I didn’t want to show off, you know. 🙂 I settled for this ashtray, to give to Leon. It’s cute, right?! Hmm… Thinking where to place that rose though. :))

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Our instructor demonstrating the basics.

After spending a good one and a half hours on coiling (okay, we got carried away), the wheels were finally available, and we started with the “main event”. I was thinking I was going to be such a pro at this, seriously. Of course I was wrong. Ang hirap! First you have to make the clay a bit wet to form it into a cone-shaped base. I had to ask Sophia (Steve and Sveta’s lovely daughter) to help me out because I couldn’t make the base stick to the wheel. Toink! You really have to press on the clay first to stabilize it to the wheel, then start moistening it to form the cone. After that, you will now start to shape the clay to whatever form you like. Again, I started with something in mind, and ended up with an entirely different thing. Hahaha! I wanted to make a vase, but the opening became too wide, so it became a cereal bowl. After a few more seconds of “shaping”, the clay started deforming! My bowl was crumpling sideways. It looked beautiful to me, a true work of art (hehehe), until Sveta saw it and said, “What happened?!” Oops. She said to make a plate instead because the rim is too thick, that’s why it’s not holding up. A plate it is.

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Thanks, Sveta!
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Some of the finished products left for drying. Look at those amazing rose petals!

After creating our masterpieces, we left them to dry, and was told we can come back for them after a few days. When the clay hardens, it is then put inside a kiln – an insulated chamber, or oven for pottery. This process of “baking” your wares will make the finished product more durable. After that, you can start glazing and designing your ceramics (not included in the basic workshop). Overall, I really enjoyed this basic pottery class. The three-hour session surely wasn’t enough. Once you get your hands dirty, there’s no stopping! 😀 The price was a bit steep – QAR 200 for adults, and QAR 100 for kids, but it’s worth it for giddy first-timers like us. And hello, this is Qatar. The only thing cheap here is oil. 🙂

I recommend trying this even if you’re not artsy or creative, mainly because it’s fun! I’m sure that with some practice, I will be able to make my miniature Iron Throne someday. :))

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