Lana Baakashvili: “The pandemic has allowed us to work for ourselves and make discoveries”
Pandemic as a Challenge – For more than a year now, we have been facing this new reality and are trying to turn it around for good. For some, perhaps, the attempt remains an attempt, although there are many for whom this attempt has already yielded the desired result. Among them are Lana Baakashvili, Ia Kldiashvili, and Mariam Tvildiani, which were given a new lease of life and the opportunity by the pandemic to do their favourite thing that had not been done for years. Today, all three of them make decorative and applied ceramics with their own hands and offer them to customers through social networks. On კერა•Kera Facebook page you will find decorative and utensil pottery of different shapes, decorated with different ornaments. If the Covid-19 pandemic allowed the creators of these works to start their favourite business, today they are already waiting for the end of the pandemic to expand the business and offer their work to foreign citizens in addition to Georgian consumers.
“I have been drawing since I was a child. I graduated from the Art Academy, but at that time I needed a lot of money to start my own business and I could not do it. Later, I transferred to business administration and worked as a corporate sales manager in one of the most successful companies in the same field for 15 years.”
In 2019, Lana quit her job and started learning to work on clay to start her own business but due to lack of space, she could not implement the plan. However, soon, when everything around us stopped for a few months, as she says, she has seized the opportunity. She turned the apartment that she used to rent out for tourists into a workshop studio, together with two friends Ia Kldiashvili and Mariam Tvildiani, they managed to buy clay and started working actively together.
“If it were not for the pandemic, I would never have started this case. It is difficult to do this at home, especially when you have three children. Besides, I would not have had so much free time. We were all involved in this routine life, and the pandemic allowed us to work for ourselves and make discoveries,” Lana said.
At first, they only had clay, because of the lack of a kiln, they would collect a certain amount of artwork and burn it elsewhere. Later they managed to buy a kiln and now they carry out this procedure in their workshop and from the initial look to the result, everything is done on their own by hand. All three of them have their own business and freedom – they do whatever they enjoy doing.
“The process is very important and interesting in the sense that we do not create only one part of the work, we do everything from beginning to end. We start sculpting, drying, burning, then we draw and glaze on the burnt material, we burn again, and we get the result, it is a whole ritual for us,” said Lana Baakashvili.
It takes an average of 10-12 days to make one piece work. Recently, they have also learned to work with wood, and they have added mirrors to various types of potter which are made of wood and ceramics. When they started their own business, they did not expect that there would be much interest from the public, they had only one goal – to do what they love. However, the demand for their product has gradually increased. During the New Year, the number of users was especially large, now they also take orders and create things according to the wishes of the public.
“We put all our souls and hearts into this work. This is the only thing we are busy with. At first, we thought we would work for ourselves, fulfil our desire and make discoveries within ourselves, but since we saw interest from the public, we now work with double energy and try to offer new ideas to our customers … “
With the implementation of new ideas, they want to expand their business. First, they plan to open a store, and later, when the tourism in the country is restored, they are going to interest foreign citizens with their works, along with Georgian consumers.
“Our workshop studio is in a good place; it is a place full of tourists. We also want to open a shop here. Besides, we want to export our products.
People may not be surprised by the pottery work, but we want to bring old Georgian ornaments into modern times and export them from the country …”
As long as the plans are implemented, they are constantly learning to work together, because, as Lana says, pottery is inexhaustible, and it takes many years of experience to say: “I am a potter …” – that is the goal …