5 reasons to explore Singapore’s Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle
If you are looking for a new place to explore in Singapore, be sure to check out Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle, tucked away in the leafy surroundings of Jalan Bahar. The ceramic studio and shop is home to Singapore’s oldest surviving dragon kiln, which is used to make wood-fired pottery. Visitors can explore the kiln, catch a paid pottery demonstration, or shop for vintage ceramicware.
Here are five reasons why you should make a trip down to explore Singapore’s Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle.
Explore Singapore’s oldest surviving dragon kiln
Dragon kilns are traditional brick-built kilns that use wood fire to cure pottery pieces. The kilns are so named because of their length and because they emit a roaring, hissing sound when fully fired. Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle’s dragon kiln is 27m-long, and has been around for 56 years. Visitors can enter the kiln through one of its two arched doorways and walk inside its hollow, semi-circular body when it is not used to fire pottery.
Support a local, family-run business
Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle founder Tan Kim Seh bought over the dragon kiln and started the business in 1965. The pottery workshop has since been passed down to his eldest son Tan Teck Yoke and daughter-in-law Yulianti Tan, as well as his granddaughter Stella Tan. The business has also grown over the years from a pottery studio and shop to also offer hands-on workshops for pottery enthusiasts and custom pottery designs for hotels and restaurants.
Slots to the public are open for firing
The kiln is fired two to three times a year, and each time it can accommodate up to 4,000 ceramic pieces. The public can fire their clay pieces in the kiln on these occasions, if they help to monitor the temperature of the kiln and keep the fire going by adding wood to the kiln. The firing lasts between 24 to 40 hours each time, and between 5,000 to 10,000kg of firewood is used.
Learn more about this intangible cultural heritage
The current owners are keen to promote and grow public appreciation for the tradition and heritage associated with the dragon kiln. Since 2000, the family has been conducting historical tours of its workshop for schools and the public. Last June, they received the Stewards of Singapore’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Award from the National Heritage Board for their dedicated promotion and transmission of cultural skills and knowledge.
Own a unique ceramic piece
Pieces fired in the dragon kiln are coated with wood ash and salt, such that it results in unique flushes of scorch marks that cannot be replicated with modern techniques. These unique pieces, ranging from vases to dinnerware, are fired by the dragon kiln, and are available for sale at Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle.
Learn more about Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle here.