Kohima: Meet 27-year-old Vizonuo Soliezuo, a new ceramicist in town creating magic with her bare hands.
In an exclusive interview with EastMojo, Vizonuo spoke about her journey of converting a garage at her uncle’s place to house her products of ceramics under the name ‘Pottery by Vizonuo’.
With no formal education in fine arts, Vizonuo, who hails from Zhadima Village under Kohima district of Nagaland, learned the art of pottery under Manjari Kanoi, a professional potter based in Kolkata in 2017. After her return from Kolkata in May last year, Vizonuo began a home-based pottery studio and conducted her first pottery workshop in Kohima last year.
Expanding her area of work, she converted a garage at her uncle’s place at Lerie colony to build her own little studio where she has been working since January this year. She gladly shared that her first ceramic products that she made from her studio were put up on sale in February and that she is currently working on a batch of orders for her customers. While she plans to someday own a showroom studio, she is currently endorsing her products for sale on her social media handles.
As a professional potter, Vizonuo recalled how she accidentally discovered her interest in ceramic pottery as she said, “At a time when I was confused about what I should do, I researched online and came across ceramic pottery. Although I always had my interest in artwork, I had no knowledge about pottery. I discovered my passion in pottery by accident and there is no turning back for me now.”
While her interest in artwork drew her towards pottery making, she said that the feel of the clay with her bare hands excites her to create something new each day. “Digging out clay from the earth, moulding it with hands, wheeling it and forming it into amazing shapes of artwork interests me a lot, but my favourite part is throwing it on the wheel,” she told EastMojo.
Away from the busy city, she works all alone at her studio, spending up to five hours a day and sometimes up to 11 hours a day.
When asked how her family reacted when she proposed about her interest in pursuing pottery as a profession, she said, “In my circle, many did not know about pottery and everyone, including my family was hesitant about it because they were not sure if pottery making could survive in this market. But they give me ideas, support and encouragement to grow further. They are my biggest critics.”
For the 27-year-old, ceramic pottery has a wide scope in the market in Nagaland.
“Here in Nagaland, people are less aware about the commercializing, with very few doing the pottery business. I think people need to be educated about the avenues of ceramic pottery,” she said, adding: “Why use plastics when one can use the ceramic pots made from clay.” To her credit, she also learned the art of sculpting during her pottery training.
With the lack of resources in the state, she said that she sourcing most of the raw materials from Haryana and Jharkhand. As pottery is a long process, from wedging the clay to the finished product, she revealed that a single product takes a month to be completed, adding that Kohima climate adds to the delay as the natural process of drying a product takes longer, as compared to other warmer cities.
With the recent addition of a ceramic kiln to the studio, Vizonuo said that she is now able to make products. Being a one-woman army, she intends to gradually grow her business as she expressed that pottery making is an expensive business to engage in. She also revealed that she only has four colors to paint with at the moment, due to the high price, but hopes to add more colors to her collection soon.
Challenging interested persons to venture into ceramic pottery making, she shared that working with pottery feels more like a playtime and that it is therapeutic in nature. She also maintained that one must be consistent and hardworking to pursue pottery.
Showing around the shaping teapots that she is presently making for a special order, she said that she is open to client’s ideas, although she mostly puts her own minds to it. On asking about her inspiration behind the products she crafts, she said that she takes inspirations from nature. “I like to carve trees and flowers in my pottery works,” she added.
Intriguingly, she revealed that before she discovered her passion in pottery, she pursued a course in shoe making and had worked with various shoe making companies for over two years but lost her interest in it. While the thought of getting her hands dirty excites her to go to work each day, she added that it is ‘fun’ to reclaim the clay from the spoiled products and reuse them to create a new one.
Talking about the challenges she faces, she said that pottery making is a slow process and that it is financially challenging to sustain. Revealing that income generation is not consistent as she is not into mass production, she optimistically hoped that her work will grow and bloom.
“I am not in a rush to make money as I have been very patient with it and it is something I enjoy and have fun with,” she said.
Adding that transferring the products from one place to another is a challenge due to the delicate nature of the products, she wishes to get a ceramic studio near her workshop. The prices of her products vary from product to product depending on the details, colours, size, efforts and concentration. Her products can be traced on her Instagram account at ‘vizonuo_soliezuo’.