Though pottery classes may be common in some countries, they are still a bit unusual in Thailand — so when we heard about a new place in Ratchathewi offering social pottery sessions, we quickly booked one for a friend’s birthday.
On a Saturday afternoon, with a head full of Pinterest ideas and hands full of cupcakes and wine bottles, we met owner Sinee Srivikorn, plus the pottery studio’s teachers Tawakul Kitwithee and Sirinporn Chuenjai, both university graduates with ceramics degrees.
Sinee, who went to school in the UK and graduated with a graphic arts degree, is the creative mind behind the studio, while her staff have all the technical know-how to run it. She returned to Thailand a few years ago and knew she wanted to contribute something to the Bangkok’s creative scene, using her family’s gorgeous home as the setting — and with that, Palm Pottery was born.
The studio is housed in a large compound featuring (what looks like) a British-influenced, Thai-style stately old mansion. Turns out it’s actually the house Sinee grew up in, which was only built in 1993 (though it would not look out of place a century ago). Apparently the entire place was lovingly put together by her mother, as a tribute to her own life spent between Thailand and the UK and the family’s love of entertaining.
The room adjacent to the studio is a pottery shop, where Sinee sells her own line of painted pottery. She told Coconuts that she also dreams of using the old-fashioned salon-style living room — complete with Thai antiques, including a traditional loom — as a coffee shop one day.
Back to the pottery workshop.
The studio room features a massive butcher block table around which our group of nine easily fit. Each of us was handed a lump of clay approximately the size of a small loaf of bread.
After a few words of introduction and quick Q&A, a reggae playlist was put on at our request, wine was popped, and creativity commenced.
The cost for the afternoon lesson — which we were told would be about two hours but actually lasted more than three — is THB1,800 per person. That cost covers the class itself and the materials used to make the finished pieces that are then yours to take home. You can make as many pieces as you want out of your block of clay (I managed a medium-sized vase, a large coffee mug, and a small dish out of my lump).
Others in our group made plates, bowls, coasters, sculptures, jewelry boxes, and more.
Everyone that wants to can take a turn — with literal hands-on assistance from the skillful Tawakul — on one of two pottery wheels.
Though most of us “made” a piece on the pottery wheel, if we are being honest here, well — Tawakul pretty much made those pieces for us. Creating something nice and shapely on the wheel is much harder than it looks — if we wanted a solid piece that we could actually paint and decorate, then it takes a professional pair of hands.
Back at the decorating and design table, the other staff members walked around offering help and encouragement, chatting with us throughout our time there.
They were patient and enthusiastic about teaching us the right techniques for shaping, scoring, and handling slip clay. Overall, the entire thing made for a really relaxing time, with equal parts socializing and moments of solitude when you could channel your creativity into producing something with your two hands.
We left our pieces to get fired and they were ready a few weeks later. The studio texts you and you go to pick your pieces up anytime, but if you’re lazy (like me) — you could also hire a Grab delivery guy to do the pickup and delivery. Added up, it’s definitely one of the pricier activities I’ve shelled out for in a while, but given the entertainment value and the actual pieces of pottery I get to keep around my house (and maybe even have one to give away as a gift), it’s certainly worth it.
9 Petchburi Road, Soi 11,
Daily, except Monday, 10am-6pm (must be booked in advance)
Photos: Laurel Tuohy for Coconuts Media