Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: bowls, classes, process, production

Tonight in class we covered throwing bowls… bowls on purpose & not cylinders gone bad!
It’s my favortie demo every session. I start be doing the demo on how to throw a basic bowl. Explaining the difference between a bowl “on purpose”… with a nice smooth curve on the inside of the bowl. Not a flat bottom, corners and straight sides like a cylinder. Once we cover the basics of throwing a bowl, my students return to their wheels to give it a try. While they are tackling their first bowls… I sat down and continued to throw more bowls. It’s a full bag of clay… this time it came out to 15 bowls!!! Looks like Alexa was pretty excited!!!

After throwing the full set of bowls, I have my students come back for Part Two of my demo. That’s the part where I try to “convince” my students to play with their clay a bit more. To squish it, move it, bend it, alter it… and to realize that “it’s just clay.” So I show them some really quick tricks to make each of the round bowls somehow altered and somehow more special.

Bowl #1 – Two Fluted Points
A simple finger flick & twist… one finger inside, one finger outside and twist.

Bowl #2 – Eight Fluted Points
If two points are cool… maybe eight would be cooler?!

Bowl #3 – Flared Flange
Simply taking the top part of the bowl and bending it outward to create the flange.

Bowl #4 – Wide Flared Flange
If a flared rim is cool, maybe a wider flared rim would be even cooler?!

Bowl #5 – Combined Flared & Fluted
Flared first, then fluted at eight points.

Bowl #6 – Split Rim with Four Pinches
So I started by carefully splitting the rim in half with the tip of my wooden knife. I then pinched the split rim back together in four places. Conveniently, lined up with the four corners of my plastic bat for even spacing!

Bowl #7 – Split Rim with Four Pinches… and then re-shaped!
Another split rim, pinched in four places and indented to alter the shape.

Bowl #8 – Indented Rim at eight points… for a floral feeling.
Evenly indented in eight places to give the bowl a softer feeling.

Bowl #9 – Split Rim with Eight Pinches… and curved between pinches!
Another split rim, pinched together in eight places. And then pressed outwards between the pinched points to give a slight curved & undulating edge.

Bowl #10 – Split Rim with Eight Pinches… then indented and “out”dented.
So if it looks good to indent & curve the rim… maybe it would look cooler to add some indentations going the other way.

Bowl #11 – Slip Spiral
I covered the inside of the bowl with white slip, and then dragged the rounded end of my wooden knife through the slip while the wheel was spinning.

Bowl #12 – Slip Spiral, Banding & Solid Sections
Another layer of slip. Another “canvas” to drag my tool through to reveal the original base clay color. Sometimes a spiral, sometimes just banded. Both easy to do while still centered on the wheel.

Bowl #13 – Flared Flange with White Slip Decoration
More white slip around the flared flange. And then decorated by dragging the rounded end of my wooden knife through the slip.

Bowl #14 – Slip With A Stencil Design
A simple shape cut out of the newspaper. The dipped in water and carefully placed on the bowl interior. Gently pressed into place to seal the edges in place. Then covered with slip… and then the newspaper stencil piece is carefully pulled out.

Bowl #15 – Slip Chattering
This one’s my favorite! A simple coat of white slip. And a rythmic tapping of my curved rib as the bowl was spinning to create this groovy pattern. Once you start, you’ve got to commit and keep going!!!

After class ended, I carried all of the bowls up to my studio. Fifteen bowls balanced up a flight of stairs.
They pretty much filled my work table. Good thing I didn’t make more?!

I then wrapped them up with plastic to keep them damp. I will come back in the next day or two to add a few more details & stamping. And then they’ll all be trimmed, dried, fired, glazed & fired again. But for tonight… another fun demo for my beginning students… and another fun batch of BOWLS!!!



December 6th, 2013

I lovelovelove to throw bowls and this gave me some fresh ideas.

Alanna Jane

February 7th, 2015

This collection of adaptations on the simple bowl is super inspiring. Thank you for some new ideas… and beginnings of new ideas!

February 17th, 2016

Lovely. Just wish you would show the finished product. Best wishes.

gale deangelis

February 21st, 2020

Thank you, such a nice variety!

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