Monday, May 09, 2011

Craft and happy accident; the artist's way

After struggling with bowls on the wheel in ceramics, today, I threw six of them, all roughly the same size, all from approximately 2 pounds of clay.  While I won't say that I've mastered bowls, I now understand the process.

Up until now, much of what I threw on the wheel I obtained as a result of some beginning knowledge and happy accident along with lots and lots of practice.

Today, I was able to understand why the insides of my bowls had a step off instead of a smooth curve and why, because of that, so many of my bowls collapsed under their own weight before I could complete them.  Now, my goal is to get the feel of shaping the inside curve in my hands so I can reliably repeat what I've done.

An interaction of craft and serendipity.

I don't want everything I make to be exactly symmetrical and exactly the same.  That would feel artificial.  What I do want is to marry the artfully interesting to the process of craft to create something that is clearly deliberate and clearly my own vision.

I think any art form follows a similar path.  I see this evolution in my writing.  After 6+ novels, dozens of short stories, hundreds of poems, pages and pages of critique, I am starting to understand not only if something isn't working , but why.

Stay tuned for photos of those bowls.  They need to be trimmed, fired, glazed, and fired again--so from clay mass to finished bowl in about 3 weeks.


  1. Yay Bowls!

    The BEST tip I ever got was how to trim bowls. With a caliper, measure the inside of the bottom of the bowl - to where the bowl starts to rise.

    This is then the width of your base. Trim the base to match the interior bottom of the bowl - it transformed my bowls.


  2. All I can say is that I love ours!

  3. Cool--will need to try that out. THanks, sue. :)

  4. 2 pounds! I bet they'll be great. My favorite chili bowls are 2 pounders.

    Do you ever watch youtube videos of potters? I learned so much from a lovely man named Simon Leach.

  5. Thanks, Linda, but methinks you are a little biased!

    @tamarapaulin--I've wasted. . . erm. . . spent many, many hours watching throwing videos on youtube. :) Simon's are really great. Thanks for stopping by.