August 18, 2017 Comments (0) Views: 1555 Craft, Pottery, Product

Much more than mud

Suchitra Ravichandran’s Scorched Earth provides a livelihood for disadvantaged women, who help transform riverbed clay into beautiful pieces of wearable terracotta art.
From the beginning Scorched Earth has retailed out of boutiques that specialize in unique clothes and crafts. Now they have a ready to wear line that is retailed via their website, other marketplaces and brick and mortar stores in Bangalore, Mysore, Mumbai and Goa; and a customized jewelry line that entails detailed consultations with customers. With a view to bringing Scorched Earth designs to a larger market, they have expanded their reach by selling online on marketplaces like Amazon as well as on the website.

“It takes years of practice to become an artisan of some reckoning,” – Suchitra says. “When I started training the ladies about 15 odd years ago, they were aware of the necessary time and commitment required. Many of these artisans are still with us today, which is why Scorched Earth has a strong team at its core. We operate on the model of apprenticeship where newbies work with more experienced artisans to hone their skills. When you have a team working on products, not everyone needs to be good at everything. Our new trainees are taken through an aptitude round where they can see for themselves where they’ll fit in with regard to clay work, painting effects and finishing and packaging work, and training is given accordingly”

A design inspired by autumn leaves

Amara from the Kirabo collection: inspired by the earthy plains of Africa Images by Sathya Shankara

Sorting fresh-from-the-kiln pieces: they are now ready
to be strung and painted

Willow from the Bohemian Rhapsody collection

At Scorched Earth they practice stringent quality control:

“It’s one of the many reasons why we have had repeat and loyal customers over the last decade and more. Each terracotta component that goes into making a piece of jewelry is carefully hand crafted and well finished. Once all the pieces are fired in the kiln, they are reviewed again for cracks and other flaws. Only the best pieces go on to become finished jewelry. The next vetting happens after the painting and finishing stage and the final one just before we dispatch an order.”

Read this story in POOL 84.

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