A chat with the creator of clay works about making pieces which add joy to every space.
Tell us a little about yourself- your life and interests (your doggies!), your daily routine.
I am lucky to be doing something I love and feel passionate about- manufacturing and design, my daily routine is something I look forward to. Each day is an opportunity to design and make a new product.
I have been an animal lover since I was a child. When I was very young I had lots of imaginary dogs who would go with me everywhere. They were my friends. They even went with me on my holidays abroad with my mother and grandparents. Now they have become real and I have many dogs. One of them is a Labrador and the rest of them are rescue dogs.
I am a positive person and I believe that we should be good to everyone. Give love and kindness to all. We all set our own karma.
Let’s talk about clay works. How did you come up with the concept? Where did the name come from?
Clay works was created out of my desire to manufacture in Pakistan and to develop ceramics. I had this desire to create something with arts and crafts. And the result was clay works. I didn’t plan it. What clay works is now just evolved as I learnt the ropes of ceramics manufacturing. With clay works I also grew, I have studied Economics and Government at Smith College, but I have trained myself to be a Ceramist, a product designer, a pattern designer. I never knew that this was a talent I had in me till clay works came along.
What were some hurdles you faced at the advent?
Hurdles in ceramics manufacturing are many. It’s a science and part engineering. Learning the ropes of ceramics manufacturing in Pakistan and then evolving it to the level where now at Clay works we can make almost anything in ceramics was the biggest hurdle and also the biggest success.
Pros and cons of owing your own business:
Pros: Getting to create anything you want. Every day something beautiful and magical comes out of my kilns. It is so exciting to have kilns open and being unloaded to reveal a new shape, design, product, pattern, order…the magic of creating.
Cons: The buck stops with you; literally and physically. You can never switch off and say ok for 2 weeks I am on vacation and don’t have to work. As a business owner you are always working, be it in the factory/office, email, thinking of a new product or concept, management.
Do you ever find your gender ever impacting your work?
Being a woman has been no hindrance to my working abilities and the main reason is the grounding and strength my smith education gave me. But there are men in the working field who will cause issues because of gender, in the labor force there have been some male workers who do not like being told off by a woman when they have messed up. Sometimes when the situation calls it I deal with them myself but at times the beauty of being a boss is that I have told my male managers what the problem is with the worker of sales staff and asked them to sort it out. I think in such situations my peace of mind is more beneficial to creating a new product, meeting a new client or a new venture for Clayworks.
At times people are surprised to learn that a woman runs Clayworks and a woman design all the products. Such people surprise me because I wonder how anyone can think that a man has designed what Clayworks produces.
“The buck stops with you; literally and physically”.
Tell us a little about the creative process of your pieces, from inspiration to conception to execution to production.
Creative process keeps in mind many aspects:
Is it beautiful, will it make people happy, is the form and design practical, will it fulfill the function? The form or shape comes first. Then the pattern and colour. And then the technical method for making the concept possible. I create what I know I will enjoy and buy as well. Every item must add to the beauty and magic and joys of its surroundings and our planet. I am very much a product of Pakistan and it lives in my soul. Yet I am also raised in European art and culture as a child. Then I am educated in a college on principles of global individuality. I feel each new design I make reflects a combination of all of these. My Islamic and Pakistani patterns reflect the beauty and culture of our country yet they are also global with an individual identity. This makes what Clayworks creates unique and original.
What’s the best part about the work you do?
I think I love all parts of it. It’s the freedom to make whatever I like- put a part of my aesthetics in very home.
Is there any aspect of the work/business/artistic process that you particularly struggle with? How do you overcome that?
Ensuring orders are done by the date clients want them for smaller personal orders is a challenge. Unlike other ceramic factories we are open to making and customizing anything individual clients want. However, production can take long periods due to many elements like what all is required to make an order. My international clients allow us to impose timelines, but in Pakistan we have not fully realized that and we often have smaller order clients making unreasonable time frame requests and it’s a struggle.
What your favorite Clayworks piece? Why?
I think every few weeks I have a new favorite product.