Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Critique: Serving Bowl

            This is a serving bowl. It is 9 inches wide at its widest point, 8 inches wide at its least wide point, and 4.1 inches tall. It is not part of a set. It is porcelain, fired to cone 10 in reduction at Simon’s Rock. The bowl was thrown, and then trimmed. I trimmed all of the extra clay off rather than leaving a foot, anticipating that I would build feet on the bowl afterwards. The feet were made by making a slab and cutting out three triangles the same size from it, then pinching the triangles to the shape I wanted, then attaching them to the bottom of the bowl. 
            Once the feet stiffened enough to support the weight of the bowl, it was placed upright and the feet were adjusted until the lip of the bowl was level. The bowl warped to the oval shape it is during the glaze firing. I can’t say I mind; it warped in a pleasing way. I suspect that this is due to the placement of the feet in conjunction with the bowl being thin throughout. 

            This is a wide bowl, but it is not flat like a plate. It is intended to be used for serving foods such as rice or peas, that need contained in a bowl and are easier to serve from a bowl than a plate. It also works well for foods that have a lot of sauce. It is deep, so it will hold a substantial amount of liquid. An advantage of the feet raising the bowl above the table is that there is no need to put something under the bowl to protect the table if it is holding something hot.

            The rim of this bowl is smooth and rounded. It is slightly thicker than the body of the bowl. The edge of the rim and the rounded ends of the feet are intended to echo each other and compliment the smoothness of the rest of the bowl. 

            The feet are triangular and curved inward with the shape of the bowl. I chose the number of feet based on ease of balancing; three feet by default will all touch the ground, whereas four feet really must be exactly the same length or the object will rock back and forth. I deliberately made the feet tall, like they are a pedestal holding the bowl up for inspection. This gives the object a dramatic shadow, and places it above the surface it rests on.

            The bottom curve of the bowl is also made more visible in this way. The bowl thus appears lighter than it would if there were one foot encircling the entire bottom, regardless of its actual weight. This also places the food inside the bowl higher, as though the bowl is offering the food to the viewer, not simply containing it.
            When I discussed the feet of the dragon cups, I pointed out that they resemble suction cups stuck to the table due to the angle of their profile. With this bowl, I tried a steeper angle. I wanted the feet to lift the bowl up, rather than appear to be securing it to the table. 

            One thing that I found in the process of making this bowl is that placing the feet is much harder if I do not make a guide for where I want to put them. You can see that they are not spaced evenly around the bottom of the bowl. In the future, when I finish trimming bowls like this I will make a circle with a thin tool before removing the piece from the wheel so that I have a guide for the feet. I can always smooth away the line later. 

            I made the surface of the bowl as smooth as I could, both inside and out. One of the qualities that I like so much about porcelain is how incredibly smooth it can become. It almost doesn’t feel like clay when it is compressed so much. When I attached the feet, I smoothed the attachment areas as much as I could to make it seem as though the feet grew out of the bowl.
            When I made this bowl, I thought I would glaze it differently than I ended up glazing it. I was thinking I would use a combination of glossy, translucent glazes that are green and blue. But it was discovered that the green glaze I wanted to use had something terribly wrong with it (it ran right off the pots it was used on – blech!) before this bowl was ready to glaze. So I had a last minute change of plans, and I decided to use very different glazes. I think I like the glazes I used better, anyway. 

            The swirls on the inside are the result of my experimentation with different methods of applying glaze. I found that I can make these swirls of one glaze over another with the help of a slip trailing bottle, and the interaction of the two glazes will create a contrasting texture and color in those areas. I am still practicing making the swirls in different shapes and sizes, but this one worked very well. I might try the same concept with slip in the future. Another possible idea for the future would be to make distinct marks where the feet attach to the bowl to create visual separation between feet and bowl so that it appears the bowl has been set on the feet.

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