The Kumbhkári Project crafts functional pottery with kolam, textile designs

The Kumbhkári Project’s functional tableware draws from kolam designs and sungudi weaves 

Updated - November 10, 2023 03:43 pm IST

Published - November 10, 2023 03:35 pm IST

Chinmayee Sridharan with her creations

Chinmayee Sridharan with her creations | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A couple of years ago, a vibrant illustrated poster on Instagram led Chinmayee Sridharan on a new career path. The poster — by ceramicist Vivitsa Kohli — had Chinmayee sign up for a month-long intensive residential course with Vivitaa.  

The kolam davara tumblers

The kolam davara tumblers | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Cut to September 2022 and Chinmayee launched The Kumbhkári Project, her label featuring a range of functional tableware. “After the course, I studied for a couple of weeks at ClayStation, Bengaluru, and Life&Art Academy in Chennai. I also signed up for some online workshops along the way. I then got myself a wheel and set up my home studio,” says the 25-year-old who crafts mugs, cups, bowls, plates and her bestseller, the davara tumbler sets. “I tend to lean on surface design more than forms to express my creativity with clay. I love retaining the natural colour of the clay bodies I use, by glazing them transparent,” adds the artist who also runs sustainable brand Urvi - The Project, where she designs cotton wallets, cardholders,  passport holders and backpacks.

A range of mugs with traditional textile motifs

A range of mugs with traditional textile motifs | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“All my collections have ties to my roots,” says Chinmayee, adding how her childhood summers were spent learning different kolams and practicing “Tamizh reading and writing with my grandmother”. This, she says, plays into the kolam davara tumblers and Tamizh series. “Another big inspiration has been inheriting my mom’s love for and knowledge of Indian textiles.” This has prompted the Kanchipuram and Sungudi Sundari-s series. “I’ve worked with variations of brown and ochre claybodies for a while now.  With the Sungudi Sundari-s I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and used  vibrant colours,” she says of the colourful hand-painted collection of drinkware  inspired by Madurai’s famed Sungudi saris. Her next collection is an extension of Sungudi Sundari-s, says Chinmayee, “The product range will include tumblers, mugs, pasta plates, trinket dishes and vases/bottles. This collection will be entirely handpainted, and will consist of both handbuilt and wheel thrown pieces. It’s my first ‘colourful’ collection!” 

A snapshot of Sungudi Sundari-s

A snapshot of Sungudi Sundari-s | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

One can never be sure of the outcome in an art form such as pottery. Dealing with this uncertainty has taught her to not get attached to her creations. “That’s the thing about art, it’s constantly evolving. Some potters break their pots after they’re dry, some squash them as soon as they make them. Since I’m an amateur, I can’t always make something the way I drew it out, but in the process of trying, I usually end up creating something even better,” concludes Chinmayee.

Upwards of ₹700. @the_kumbhkari_project on Instagram.

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