A pioneer potter, Nirmala Patwardhan became interested in pottery and glazes while a student at Santiniketan in the 1940s. In 1957, she went to the State Academy of Arts, Stuttgart, Germany, to study ceramics, where Prof. Ulrich Gunther, an expert in glazes fuelled her interest even further. She trained with Bernard Leach and Ray Finch in England in throwing techniques. She has compiled a book, Handbook on Glazes, from her own experiments and formulae of glazes that are based on locally available materials. This was reprinted in 2007 as New Handbook for Potters. She re-created a glaze, now popularly known as Nirmala Chun Glaze, an opalescent stoneware glaze first developed by the Chinese around the 11th century. It is one of the most sought-after glazes. In 1994, she was awarded Senior Fellowship by Government of India to pursue work on old Chinese glazes using Indian clays and minerals. She was teaching pottery, glazing and Raku techniques in workshops that she use to organise over the last four decades, at her studio in Pune.
Nirmala Patwardhan lived in Pune.