Tea Bowls 1

With all the emphasis on relief printmaking lately, you might be thinking I've set aside clay, but on the contrary, I've been busy as ever at the wheel. Roswell is the sort of place that lets you concentrate on your creative work, what can I say.

Over the winter my clay class concentrated on drinking vessels, particularly yunomi. These are informal Japanese tea bowls that are suitable for daily use, as opposed to more formal ceremonies. They are generally taller than they are wide, and often come in pairs, the larger one being male, the smaller female. Using this form as a springboard, I started making new pieces.

Up to this point, my cups have been conventional cylinders for the most part, giving me the most uninterrupted space for drawing flowers, skulls, and other images. For these pieces, however, I decided to focus on form itself, and keep my decoration abstract. Using a sponge attached to a wooden stick, I pressed the walls of my bowls into convex and concave shapes, creating a variety of curvy, bulbous forms that are fun to hold. Other times I pressed in the sides of the wet clay pots with my fingers, creating dimples to enhance tactility.

I also played around with texture, adding lines with a needle tool to create a variable surface for glazes. For even more surface interest, I used a pipette to add dots. Just as the bowls themselves alternated between convex and concave, so my lines and dots alternated between surface accretions and depressions. For these pieces, I wanted my decoration to complement the shapes of my bowls, rather than overpower them. These works weren't about showcasing my draftsmanship, but delighting in shape and texture itself.

I also started playing around with new textures. In the picture below, for example, I pressed shells into the bowl on the left, creating fossil-like impressions.

After trying out these new textures, it was time to fire the bowls up.

Once the pieces were fired, it was time to glaze them. Rather than dip them all in the same color, however, I split them into groups so that I could try out new glaze combinations and see how they reacted to my textures.

How did they turn out? Stay tuned...