Last fall, just after I had finished firing pots for the holiday show season, I sat down to focus on teabowls and cups. I had studied the traditional Japanese forms, but wanted to give them my artistic statement. In my first throwing session, I threw about ten teabowls and new cups. As they sat drying on the ware board, I wondered if I had lost my touch. I hated them. So I wrapped them in plastic and left the studio.
I returned a few days later to “save” them. That day I left the studio elated. Not only had I saved these teabowls and cups, but I created pieces that captured my imagination. They had my signature altering, but I had added even greater interest by playing loose with my trimming tool. I left lines and shifting planes along the underbelly and around the foot. Now instead of a short stumpy little pot that sat on the ware board, I had something with volume and interest beyond what I imagined. And they insist upon being held. The alteration gives them a bit of an oval shape, with two little spots that fit snugly into the palm of your hand. Perfect for being one with your tea.
Needless to say, I was pretty proud of my new creations. However, since I was saving them for the wood-kiln it wouldn’t be until March that I see them completed. I’m glad I waited. I was thrilled with the results as the surface complimented the form in a way only wood-firing can. I sent photos of my best three teabowls to Kansas City Clay Guild in early April for the Teabowl National. The wood-fired teabowl shown above was selected and will be shipped to Kansas City this week. It will be there for the month of June.
Others from that same throwing session and wood-firing have been finding themselves new homes through out the U.S and receiving rave reviews. “Beyond expectations”. “Nice addition to my collection.” In focusing on these forms, which are so simple, yet say so much, I found a fun place to focus my creative energies. They now compete with food bowls as my favorite form to throw.
So as I prepare for my next wood-firing, I will be throwing lots of teabowls and yunomis. I look forward to exploring further the form, the lines, and the surface. This exploration is one of the most satisfying aspects of working in clay.