Making Bowls – Part II Trimming and Slip Decoration

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I’ve placed two more videos on the site that add to a series of technical videos intended for both students and those interested in learning how I make and decorate bowls.

In the video of me trimming a thrown bowl, I mention that if you do not like to trim pots, you should avoid throwing with porcelain. I used to say that porcelain was always man-made, and therefore always needed to be trimmed because it was so man-made. I have since found out that there was a little vein of “natural” porcelain, sometimes called proto-porcelain, which occurs in central China. It was used more for hand-building than throwing, so I don’t know if it was short (or non-plastic) and needed trimming or not. Mine does. All the Chinese porcelain clay bodies used for over a thousand years needed to be trimmed. They do this well, and I like doing it well too.

The addition of slip to the bowls is called combing, probably because that is what the old Asian potters used to do this kind of decoration. Wooden combs were common. The tool that I am using, is a kidney shaped piece of stainless steel, that I have cut and filed to get the comb pattern. I have other shapes and sizes for different pots. I have practiced this technique for about 40 years, and I am still working at understanding what is possible. The unity in this technique is lovely. It is “natural”. It can only be done on a pot on a potter’s wheel, by a potter, and with potter’s clay slip and tools. Each time it is done, it is unique…bonus.

If you are a potter, I urge you to try this little puppy out, and I hope you enjoy this series of videos about the making of a bowl.

See a few pictures and additional videos in the technical area of this website over the next few weeks.


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