I love to work on the potter’s wheel and consider what might emerge from a ball of wedged clay. How can you not love a good bowl? Or a mug that fits well? It takes a lot of practice and a bit of imagination to craft a bowl. Here’s what I do.
Before placing clay on the potter’s wheel, I wedge it to remove any pockets of air and make it uniform in consistency. I shape the clay into a ball and place it on a bat which is secured to the wheel head. Once I center the clay, I create an opening in the center, establish the inside diameter and pull up the walls. I consider the shape of the bowl before and while throwing and when I’m satisfied I remove the bowl from the wheel and leave it to dry leather hard. I place the leather hard bowl back on the wheel, this time upside down, to refine the shape and define the foot of the bowl.
The bowl is ready to bisque fire in the kiln at 1940 degrees F when it’s completely dry.
Once I remove the bisque fired bowl from the kiln, I glaze it, often combining different glazes which will melt and flow in unique ways, and fire it a second time, this time around 2230 degrees F, to vitrify the stoneware and melt the glaze into the clay.
It’s hard for me wait while the kiln cools down – such is the anticipation and magic of hand crafted pottery. The variations in glaze depend on a myriad of conditions; how the glaze is applied, where in the kiln pieces sit … and it’s such a thrill to see them emerge.
I continue to transform my approach to clay as I participate in ceramics classes at Ohio University.
Just-thrown bowls resting on a drying rack.