form+function

An incredibly lightweight and strong bowl perfect for holding your fruit, your shell collection or plein air (like a truss, half the material is cut away creating a perfectly strong and light web of clay!).

This ceramic bowl inspired by the delicate texture of Caribbean coral and the color of seafoam crested waves is a work of art and with care, a snap to make. Learn how to make people envious of your awesome skills in six steps…


Materials:

Clay!

A bowl larger than the size of the clay bowl you’ll want… about twice as large.

A steel pen tool.

Newspaper, wax paper or cooking spray.

Plastic wrap / plastic bags.

Note: As with the rest of my ceramic tutorials, you’ll need more than access to a hunk of clay to make this happen. Look up a pottery cooperative in your area, as they’re generally more accepting of you making abnormal things with clay 😉

Traditional classes, like the ones you can occasionally find on Living Social, tend to encourage traditional bowl making techniques, but at AliTheArchitect, I cannot stand thinking inside the box!

Do it:

Step One. For any bowl formed by hand (ie, not thrown on a wheel), step one will be much the same.

Slice off a hunk of clay. For both bowls my chunk was 8″x8″x4″. Knead and roll flat to a thickness of 1/8″ – 1/4″. Continuously flip and rotate the slab as you roll it so to create a more uniform and square canvas.

Step Two. With the paper, line the inside of the bowl you’ve chosen to use as a template. Alternatively, spray the non-stick cooking spray inside the bowl.

Step Three. Gently pick up your slab and press into the bowl. Depending on how you’ve cut and rolled your slab, the clay may cover more or less of the inside of the bowl. Here’s where your creativity comes into play:
Pick up your pen tool and create a scalloped edge. Make it even or asymmetrical or let the slab travel up the side of the bowl and over the rim (that’s how I achieved the baseball cap-esque bowl!).

Step Four. After you’ve cut the outline of the bowl, start cutting away little pockets on the inside. Keep the pen tool as vertical as possible to ensure a clean, crisp cut. Your holes can vary in size between a pin hole and 2″ diameter and certainly don’t need to be circular or identical; in fact, the more organic, the better! Remember, you’re not trying to replicate something from Crate & Barrel!

Very Important!: The larger the cut hole, the more material you should leave around the hole so as not to stress the clay excessively.

Another important thing to remember: Your slab is drying as you work; the thinner, cut pieces are drying faster than the solid portions of the slab that you have not cut into yet. Wet the cut clay as you work to prevent cracking. When you’re done, loosely wrap the piece in plastic wrap or plastic bags to encourage even, slow drying. Remember: Quick, uneven drying means cracks*!!!!

Step Five. This is easy, leave it alone. Leave the clay in the bowl to dry for a week or so – wrapped in plastic! Don’t remove the clay from the bowl prematurely or you’ll lose the shape.

Step Six. The bisque firing comes next, then the glaze, then the glaze fire.

FYI: The turquoise, highly textured glaze I used for the pieces above is called Purnell Strontium. It is great for these perforated pieces because the glaze is a tad thicker than others and tends not to run and pool. It also covers beautifully if you dunk it for two seconds or fifteen seconds, although the effect is different depending on your timing: quick dunks / lighter coverage means you’ll get a reddish-brown result. A longer dunk / thicker coverage means you’ll get a more vibrant turquoise with tons of depth. Love. Your co-op will know how to mix this up… I hope! (REMEMBER!: Before you dunk, remember to coat the the surfaces of your bowl that will touch the inside of the kiln with wax. No sticking!!!)

Above: Can you spot the bisque fired bowls, turned upside down on newspapers, getting a coat of wax before the glazing process commences!

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*Got cracks? Not really a huge deal as long as the integrity of your piece is still intact. Dip a fine brush in slip and dab into the crack. Do this a few times until the crack is filled and covered over. It’s okay to have it be a little lumpy and obviously a repair – you can always sand later!

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