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Bathma's gone potty for Zen ceramics

It's not big but visit the studio at Cementhai Soi 22 and you enter a world of a professional artist. It is decorated with the works of Bathma Kaew-Ngok, a ceramic artist who teaches Iga-Yaki.

Bathma's gone potty for Zen ceramics

"I wasn't born to be an instructor. I'm an artist so the atmosphere isn't like a classroom. I want everyone to feel comfortable and cosy here," says Bathma.

Iga-Yaki is ceramics in the Japanese style. It emphasises nature in its materials and processes.

Bathma learned Iga-Yaki from Kanji Atarashi, a Japanese master.

"I can't explain how I feel when my hands touch and knead clay. It might be the warmth. I hope students get the same feeling," says Bathma, who has been creating ceramics for the past seven years.

There are six basics techniques. Pinching, coiling, extruding, moulding, slip casting and slab work are all taught. You engage in all processes ... from kneading clay, to forming shapes and firing in a kiln. There is no limit to the amount of clay you can use. By the end of your course you'll have made about 15 pieces.

Bathma uses no chemicals or artificial materials in his creations and he wants his students to adopt the same ethos.

"I focus on nature," he says.

Bathma teaches students to make glaze from natural materials and most colours are earthen tones.

In the cosy atmosphere, it's not strange some students often spend the whole day in the studio.

Classes are three hours in duration but Amonrada Tardthong stays from 10am until 6pm.

"The instructor has a great sense of humour. It makes things so simple and easy," she says.

The 18-year-old, first-year international-programme architecture student at King Mongkut's University of Technology, Thon Buri says: "It's so relaxed here."

Amonrada finds kneading and working the clay into a usable texture a bit hard but after that the fun starts.

Once you've completed the course, why not learn Japanese flower arranging so you have something to put in your ceramic work of art. There's a professional Japanese flower arranger nearby.

Iga-Yaki class are from Monday to Thursday and Saturdays at Cementhai Soi 22, Cementhai Village, Ratchadaphisek Road and on Fridays at the Bathma Ceramic School, Sukhumvit 39.

Each 10-session course is Bt5,000.

For more information, call Bathma at 085 061 3790.

By Suwicha Chanitnun

The Nation

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