This bowl is part of a series inspired by the carved wooden bowls of the Northeast Woodland Indians. The forms were carved from a single piece of wood and include square or rectangular handles. When I saw them at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, I was struck by their simple beauty. I wanted to make them out of clay and try to mimic the elegance of the bowl leading to the handles without any attachments. This led to a change in the way I work. While I use the wheel to make the initial forms, most of the work is done off the wheel in the leather hard stage. In order to get the form to look right with the handles, they are thrown larger and cut down.
The strength and beauty of the pot should carry over from the visual form to the pot in action. The handles should enhance the function of the pot while leaving enough space inside for the right amount of food. These qualities are vital to the integrity of the pot, and they do provide the starting point. All of the formal considerations for making a good pot must also be addressed, from the weight and balance of the piece to the treatment of the surface. The success of the firing has the final say in the success of the piece. The biggest challenge in making this form is getting the wall thickness right. Since the pieces are cut down quite a bit, the inside wall must be thick enough to act as the both rim and handles. I sometimes have to add a bit of clay to beef up the edges.
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.
I can see this piece being used for both preparing and serving a side dish. The size also lends itself to eating a meal right out of it. I think it is important for the pot to clearly speak of function, but I am not concerned with what the user ultimately puts in it. I did have in mind the ceremony of preparing, serving, and eating food while making this piece. For me, the daily ritual of eating and the aspects involved in getting ready to eat, such as grocery shopping or gardening, are tied together with making pots.
It does not bother me if someone buys a pot from me and does not use it at all. I have no control over what someone might do with a piece. It is totally up to them.
At sales, I like to put fruit such as clementines, lemons, or limes in a bowl or basket to give some contrast to the color of the clay. Often, the pots with the fruit in them will sell first.