A Balance in Opposites

I recently completed glazing some long-neglected pieces languishing on my shelf. Two of these unfinished pieces were small bowls. Both featured a floral pattern, and were glazed with a similar color scheme, but aside from that, they look completely different from one another in terms of execution. Yet I find they balance one another in a peculiar way, with their opposing properties complementing one another. Let's take a look at them:

This first bowl is probably one of the best pieces I've done from a technical standpoint. The walls are even in thickness, the rim is is level, I even managed to get a nice little foot on the bottom rather than one of my heavy, bell-bottomed ones. It's a conventional piece, but a well-made one, and I liked it from the instant I threw it. I even carved one of my more intricate floral designs into it, and used a translucent celadon glaze so that the texture of the clay would remain visible.

This piece has a very different story. It was not thrown evenly, so one side was taller and thicker than the other. Rather than scrap the piece, however, I decided to see whether I could salvage it. I began by cutting down the taller side in a ridged pattern, in an effort to make the unevenness appear intentional. I couldn't get a nice foot on this one, so I just cleaned up the base as best I could and left it at that. Instead of the more intricate flowers above, I used a simplified iris, as I thought the curvaceous petals mirrored the carving I'd done on the rim. I painted the flowers with an underglaze, covering them with wax resist afterwards to protect them from the rest of the glazing process. While I used a translucent glaze for the previous bowl, I used variegated blue for this work, as it's an opaque color that would conceal the irregular texture of the clay. While in the first piece I was trying to show off the inherent perfection of the throwing, for this work I was trying to hide all the flaws and mistakes.

I really didn't care for the second piece, but once it emerged from the kiln, I changed my mind. Oh sure, I can still tell it's a poorly-thrown work, but now the flaws are what make it unusual. The top work, for all its demonstration of skill, is a straightforward bowl, but the second work is quirky and offbeat. Yet I like both of them fine; I see them as counterparts, two different interpretations of a common theme exploring balance, proportion, and the beauty of flowers.

Such is the magic of clay; with just a few changes you can completely transform the look and feel of your works.