I don’t know about you, but whenever I think of pottery, I’d always imagine a dark room, and a hot and handsome potter seated behind a pretty young thing in close proximity. As the pottery wheel spins, his large and gentle hands guide hers on the beautiful mess of wet clay; and together, they mould a perfect little vase. The potter leans in and kisses the girl on the back of her neck…
*Cues “Careless whisper”
Haha! Now wasn’t that steamy? Okay okay come back.
Entering a world of pottery
I was briefly in pottery club for CCA when I was in primary school, though I never got to try the potter’s wheel. So when I received Thow Kwang Pottery‘s invitation to join them at a workshop, I was really excited because I would finally get to realise my fantasy.
Literally, a pottery jungle tucked away in Jalan Bahar!
Singapore’s oldest Dragon Kiln
There used to be around 40 Dragon Kilns (龙窑) in Singapore, but now there are only 2 left. Thow Kwang is home to Singapore’s oldest Dragon Kiln, a brick-built kiln made for wood-firing. It is 27 meters long, and is able to fire up to 3000 pieces of pottery at one go. In the early years around 1940s, the dragon kiln was used to meet industrial and household demands for cups and functional wares. However, as newer, less labour-intensive electric kilns were invented and took over production, the usage of dragon kilns slowly began to dwindle.
Now, Thow Kwang only fires the dragon kiln twice a year, and the next firing is taking place on 11.11.17, Saturday!
Stella, whose family owns Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle, giving us an introduction.
One of the side openings that is used as entry into the dragon kiln, after which will be sealed with the bricks before firing. Inside the Dragon Kiln. Shelves and shelves of pottery will be arranged in here, and the entire kiln will be filled with wood, fired up for 20 hours, with temperature soaring up to 1260°C.
Such a pretty effect, in Singapore nonetheless! Did you know that couples do come here to take unique pre-wedding photos?
Having my dream fulfilled on the potter’s wheel
Now Thow Kwang is a platform for artists and potters to practice their craft, and create their own pottery pieces. Besides being a haven for pottery enthusiasts and professionals, TK also conducts workshops for the public! And yes, you can try your hands on the potter’s wheel too.
An amazing group of practitioners focused on perfecting their craft on that day.
Stella proceeds to demonstrate the different techniques of moulding the clay. The clay is extremely soft and goes out of shape easily. The key is to be gentle and stable! Just this technique alone could take about 3-6 months to perfect.
I think we could hardly hide our happiness and joy at having a go at the potter’s wheel!
We experimented with different techniques of shaping the clay, lengthening it, widening it. To be able to control how the clay moulds, and to create any shape you want, the feeling was just so shiok!
Pottery Workshop at Thow Kwang
After having a hands-on experience on the potter’s wheel, we headed to their studio space for a group workshop. We would be creating our own pottery pieces using slabs of clay!
The tools and brushes used for moulding, cutting, decorating, and painting. Everything is provided and you are free to unleash your creativity.
We really racked our brains for this one. There were so many inspirations on Pinterest, and it was so hard to decide!
Hammy made an cute bunny incense holder for himself.
A closer look at it; the incense goes into the mouth. How cute! The extra piece of clay at the bottom of the head is to hold up the bunny head temporarily while it dries and hardens.
While I decided to go for an organic looking bowl. I was looking to make something for my trinkets, or it could be used for nachos =)
After painting! I wanted it to look like a sea coral, and really liked how it turned out.
Here’s Cookie’s Drippy Unicorn mug which was oozing cuteness! This girl honestly has talent!
It was such an enriching couple activity for us. Hahaha of course, nothing like my fantasy happened, but Hammy and I enjoyed ourselves thoroughly nonetheless! :P Thank you Stella and Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle for your hospitality and having us at the workshop!
Watch the firing of Dragon Kiln on 11.11!
Thow Kwang is having a pottery festival on 11.11 where they will hold various workshops in conjunction with the firing of the Dragon Kiln. Check out the range of activities happening below!
It can be a great opportunity to bring the whole family out for a day of craft activities and watch the firing of the Dragon Kiln at the same time! To sign up for any of the workshops, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP. There is a free guided tour and demonstration on wheel at 1pm and 5pm where you can just walk in. :)
Visit 11.11 events Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1396553003777295/
About Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle
Founded in 1965 by Tan Kim Seh, Thow Kwang started off as a small cottage industry. Initially, we produced glazed pottery cups for nearby rubber plantations, used in the collection of natural rubber. Thow Kwang also met the demands of the local consumer market by manufacturing water jars, which were utilised for bathwater storage. In the 1970s, when Singapore’s domestic economy changed to favour the growth of orchid farms, Thow Kwang adapted to new market demands by increasing its production of pots in various shapes and sizes. it is a rich history that illuminates just how much Thow Kwang – and perhaps even the entire ceramic production industry – has been an active and efficacious contributor to Singapore’s economy.
For the past 15 years, Thow Kwang has been actively promoting a better awareness and understanding of pottery and the art of wood-firing. By conducting educational tours and pottery workshops for schools and the general public, we hope to enhance the appreciation for the traditional art of porcelain and wood-fired ceramics in our country, and to contribute to a deeper engagement with the arts and culture in everyone’s daily lives.
(Disclaimer: I was invited to experience the workshop, and all opinions are mine.)