Ceramics at Teaport Studio: Yogyakarta, Central Java

I am a real raven when it comes to searching out the little places that are so special wherever I travel in Indonesia. Walking down alleys (gangs) and finding the craftsmen who own small shops and those involved in cottage industries. Every town and city has them.

One of my favourite places was Kasongan, the pottery village not far from Yogyakarta. Unfortunately it was badly damaged during the massive earthquake but I am pleased to tell you that the ceramic centre is getting back to normal albeit slowly.

Yogyakarta is like an Aladdin’s Cave and if you visit the city then do some walking down the back streets and alleys. You will be pleasantly surprised. There is one place in Yogyakarta that I must visit and that is the Teapot Studio. Slamet Susanto explains about this delightful place:

Whether you are looking for a unique gift idea or a home decoration, look no further than the Teaport Studio on Jl. Kaliurang Km 5.5, Yogyakarta. The studio deals in various ceramic items, including mugs, oil burners and ashtrays. Endang Lestari, 31, the founder and manager of Teaport Studio, said souvenirs were sold for between Rp 7,500 (84 U.S. cents) and Rp 15,000 apiece.

Endang, nicknamed Tari, said the studio was flooded with orders during Idul Fitri, Christmas and New Year’s.

A complete dinner and coffee set sells for Rp 300,000-750,000, depending on the design.

“We also receives orders for one-of-a-kind dinner sets. These cost between Rp 750,000 and Rp 1.5 million,” she said.

Tari said customers had to wait longer if they picked a special design.

“We are not interested in mass production,” she said.
She said ceramic articles were fragile and there was a 30-40 percent chance of them breaking in the firing process.

“Some breakage and cracking is to be expected as we have only been in the business for two years,” Tari said.

The graduate of Yogyakarta’s Fine Arts Institute (ISI) said the fine white clay the studio used was imported from China.

“White clay is available only in China and we need an average of one ton of white clay monthly,” she said.

Another raw material, good quality red clay, is not available in Yogyakarta so it must be purchased from Sukabumi, West Java.

“The best ceramic articles are made from Sukabumi clay,” Tari said.

Teaport Studio also exports its products. “At present we regularly export our products to the Netherlands. We are also exploring new buyers in other countries,” Tari said without giving names.

To improve the quality of their products, Tari and her four workers gather as much information as they can from books and from the internet. “We get creative ideas from books,” she said.

Tari said she started the business quite by chance.

Three years ago, she said, she sent a number of free samples wrapped like parcels to her friends.

“Surprisingly, many of my friends got interested and placed orders,” said Tari, adding that Teaport Studio’s monthly sales stood at around Rp 30 million with a profit margin of 5-7 percent.