I have always loved making bowls; there is something so satisfying about working on the curve, especially when you get it right. I also find there to be a great variety within the form itself. One of the only parameters is that it must be able to hold volume, and that leaves a lot of choice up to the artist. It also must have an opening that is both large enough to make food-use a possibility, and larger than the foot.
These qualities certainly dictate what your form will be named, but as to whether or not it is successful, there is a lot more involved. There are many unsuccessful bowls out there in the world, and what I believe sets successful bowls apart from the others are proportions, curves, weight, and surface treatment.
I think that the challenge of making a bowl lies in achieving the curve of the bowl and overall balance. I can spend what feels like forever smoothing that curve at the bottom so it really has no beginning or end and is just seamless.
I have made a conscious decision in my mind as to what the function of each piece I’m making should be. However, within that form, I am open to the possibilities of several different uses. I know what I would use it for, but I have chosen to let the users ultimately choose for themselves how they want to integrate it into their lives.
I think that often when I sit down at the wheel to throw, I start with a notion of what I need in my daily life and go from there. The type of ceremony and/or ritual that I consider in my work is much more informal than the word’s connotation; perhaps the ritual of breakfast, a favorite snack, or a decoration for one’s favorite end table.
Of course I would like my work to be used, but I have made a decision to let the ultimate choice of function be the users. My works can oscillate between the realms of tool and function and can do both well; it remains up to the user to decide if they will use it for food or as a decoration.
I’m very new to marketing my work and trying to sell it, but I think that ultimately people need to use the work to fall in love with it. Let others experience your work as often as possible.
This article was excerpted from Contemporary Functional Pottery: A Discussion of Handmade Pottery by 11 Working Potters, which is free to Ceramic Arts Daily subscribers.