Urth & Phire is a local pottery studio that was founded by Singaporean ceramic artist, Alvin Leow, who has a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts (Distinction). The studio specializes in pottery and offers classes to the general public. Interestingly, the studio name is pronounced as ‘earth and fire’, which invokes a curiosity beyond a superficial understanding.
Located near Tai Seng, the minimalistic Urth and Phire studio is, unsurprisingly, decked out with shelves of pottery works-in-progress.
Before we started, our instructor Alvin showed us the different stages the clay will go through from preparing the clay to moulding it.
Each person will have a black tray that includes a round yellow sponge, wooden carving knife, needle, wire cutter, a big rectangular sponge, and two clay balls wrapped in clay. On top of that, you’ll be provided with an apron to help prevent your clothes from getting dirty.
This damp cloth prevents the unmoulded clay from drying out too quickly.
The foot pedal controls the pottery wheel machine. The more pressure you apply on the foot pedal, the faster the wheel spins.
It’s important during the entire process to keep the ball of clay wet so that its easier to mould and doesn’t stick to your hands. We started off by shaping the clay into a simple dome shape.
By positioning your hands as shown in the above photo, the clay will be shaped into a disc-like shape. From there, we used our thumbs to hollow out the middle, thus creating the basic “donut” shape that can later be transformed into cups, bowls, and vases.
The round, yellow sponge helps immensely in smoothening out the rough edges. I loved how it helped get rid of any minor imperfections and makes the clay look smooth and neat.
Moulding this piece of clay was incredibly therapeutic. Because all my attention was on shaping the clay, I totally forgot about everything else—especially things like my phone or social media. I truly appreciated how this pottery session provided an “escape” from the (sometimes) maddening noise pollution in Singapore.
Removing the clay off the wheel is tricky. First, you’ll have to wet the wheel with some water to make the transition easier. Alvin showed us how to use the wire cutter to scrap the bottom of the clay to help loosen it from the wheel.
After doing that, you’ll have to very carefully slide the clay to the side of the wheel and from there, lift your creation off the wheel!
I took my time with this step because I really didn’t want to screw things up, especially after all that effort!
When the clay is totally dry, it will be put into the kiln at 850 degrees Celcius. This process is called bisque firing. The second and final firing takes place after the clay has been glazed, at 1200 degrees Celcius. This is called glazed firing.
After the entire process is finished, you can then collect your pieces of art.
A beginner course is made up of eight sessions and is packaged at S$400. However, if you’re unsure about committing to a full course, a trial session is only S$60!
Looking for a birthday or Christmas gift? Why not give someone a handmade one? Plus you’ll get a highly therapeutic experience while you’re at it.
Nearest MRT Station: Tai Seng MRT (4-minutes walk from Exit A)
Mon, Thurs, PH: Closed
Tues, Wed & Fri: 10am-4pm
Sat & Sun: 10am-6pm
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