PETALING JAYA, Jan 10 — Most local crafters make pottery from oven-baked clay but have you heard of air-dry clay? Bawaku.Tanparagu started by Kamelia Jambari hopes to educate crafters about this new form of clay which dries at room temperature and does not need to be baked in an oven to harden.
The full-time architect got into pottery when she was doing her degree in Japan, joining a pottery club as one of the co-curriculum activities. When she came back to Malaysia, she started exploring the potential of using air-dry clay for her pottery activities.
“It is difficult to do pottery from clay in Malaysia because it can be expensive. For air-dry clay, you can do it at home and it is a good alternative,” said Kamelia. The 31-year-old loves drawing and painting too, which is an extension of her architecture studies. Usually, she paints her air-dry clay plates with acrylic.
Bawaku.Tanparagu was only established early last year because Kamelia was busy with other things since returning from Japan. She was doing her Masters programme at Universiti Malaya and then had to focus on her job.
“I’ve been wanting to try pottery so I started by making and putting them up on Instagram. I didn’t plan to start selling them, just to friends only but then people started to ask about them,” said Kamelia.
The name Bawaku.Tanparagu is actually part of the lyrics of a Malay song that Kamelia found meaningful. As she is just starting to sell her work, Kamelia usually delivers the items directly to her customers. Sometimes she uses the postal service but she prefers to deliver personally.
The first item she made was a simple plate with a marbling effect. Mixing colours, the plates came out in a beautiful variation of colours like the Aurora Borealis. If requested, she can also make custom-designed pieces.
“The texture and feel is like plasticine where you can mould it into any shape you want. You can buy it from the art supply store but it is not ceramic,” said Kamelia.
Apart from plates, she also makes soap dishes, small plates to put knick-knacks on, tiny pots for plants, decorative plates, three-tier marble effect clay chandeliers, decorative cups and more.
If you go through her Instagram feed, you will notice she has a penchant for black cats, as depicted in a number of her handcrafted items. Since she is only starting out, she does not have a large product line but there are plans to expand further.
Most times, Kamelia only makes her air-dry clay items after work. She sees it more as a hobby than a money-making business.
The air-dry clay items are not meant to store food as the surface is not food-safe. According to Kamelia, the glossy finish is actually toxic. She has to spray the clay with the glossy finish, as the clay is not water resistant. Usually, air-dry clay takes up to 24 hours to dry.
Kamelia also teaches workshops on how to use air-dry clay. She collaborates with Craft Crowd, a workshop organiser that focuses on crafts. Her first workshop was in November where she had 18 people joining her for a three-hour session at Hubba Hubba.
Her next workshop will be this month. – MMO.