Author's blurb: I've made pottery overseas overseas on occasion, and while it wasn't easy, it was therapeutic and great for undressing. My only complaint was that even in freezing cold weather, I had to walk all the way to the studio to do it.
Because of the clutter the process can create, it's understandable why you need to go to a recording studio when working on sound.
You will also need a pottery wheel to keep it in a uniform shape, as well as an oven to dry it and make it food safe.
However, two sisters, Juin and Wen, felt that clay modeling should be much more accessible for anyone to enjoy making clay art from the comfort of their own home.
Keep hands busy during lockdown
Although the sisters have no background in pottery, they have always enjoyed working on arts and crafts projects as a family.
Juin is also a designer, so she already had a fair share of clay models in design school.
"I recently found that many people in other countries were working on clay projects at home during the lockdown to find a new creative venture or a way to get undressed," Juin told the Vulcan Post.
"I figured that many avid pottery lovers might feel like working on clay projects and not be able to close so many local pottery studios during the lockdown."
Hence the idea of curating a clay kit with all of the basic tools one would need, which led to them launching Clayground.
They started with a soft launch on Valentine's Day in 2021 to test the market by branding their kits as a fun activity that couples could do together at home.
To their surprise, they sold out within the first week. Hence, they thought their clay kits would also be great for birthday and anniversary gifts, bridal showers, corporate team building activities, and more.
No pottery wheel or kiln involved
There are currently two types of kits, the basic kit and the party kit, priced at RM80 and RM100, respectively.
The basic kit is suitable for 1 to 2 people, while the party kit is suitable for 1 to 3 people. Each kit contains a pack of clay (two packs for the party kit) along with all of the tools, paints, sealants, sandpaper, and beginner-friendly instructions that users will need.
Basic Kit (left) and Party Kit (right) / Photo credit: Clayground
They also sell individual packs of clay for users who already have all the tools and just need to refill clay.
They don't give you a mini pottery wheel or burning tool, however, as their clay can air dry in 24 hours.
"Air-dried clay is actually nothing new in the pottery world and is often used in schools for art projects," explained Juin.
While this saves users the purchase of an oven and potter's wheel to facilitate their clay modeling experience. The downside, however, is that the final clay products are not 100% waterproof, which means they are not food safe.
So if you want your clay made with the kits to be used for drinking or eating, the final product must be fired in an oven at around 1,200 ° C.
More suitable as home decor
That being said, Juin stated: "We recommend using the clay for making home accessories and sculptures, as opposed to kitchen utensils such as cups and plates."
Since most of us are unlikely to have a pottery wheel standing around at home, it is virtually impossible to make kitchen utensils for ourselves as well.
However, the sisters are looking into the possibility of introducing portable mini pottery wheels in the future.
When they started this company they didn't have a target market in mind as they view clay modeling as an activity that is suitable for all ages.
"Working with clay is a multisensory activity that not only helps develop fine motor skills, but is also a great stress reliever," said Juin.
Catering for international demand
Right now, one of their biggest challenges is shipping their products to overseas customers.
"Liquid items such as paint and sealant in our kits are considered prohibited items and are banned by most international couriers," Juin told the Vulcan Post.
Since they were introduced during the lockdown, they rely solely on their online presence to build a customer base and have not had a chance to join local bazaars that they believe would add to their brand awareness.
Inventory management has also become more difficult for them over time as they try to handle the increasing demand on their small space at home.
However, once the pottery studios are reopened, they hope to work with customers across Malaysia who are ready to offer kiln to their customers who want to fire their clay creations.
In addition, they want to host live workshops or zoom parties so that pottery lovers can connect with one another and play with clay.
Bottom line: Your straightforward products and processes appeal to me as I didn't like going to and from the pottery studio back then. Also, I find that modeling clay for pottery is a little overrated, so it can be refreshing for clay lovers to have fun with it in other ways.
- You can find out more about Clayground here.
- You can find more startups that we have written here.
Selected image source: Juin and Wen, founders of Clayground