Saturday, September 6, 2014

Tea Bowl Making

Useless tea bowl

Have you ever tried making pottery? I guess that many of tea people have dreamed about making their own tea bowl. I’ve actually tried it by using a turning wheel at a pottery workshop. However, once the clay is baked, it shrinks and gets dense. I paid attention to forming my desired figure, but not to the size or thickness. So, the tea bowl got very thick and heavy. It didn’t even have enough space to move the whisk in it. It was useless, hahaha.

Stimulating my creativity

There are always different types of tea bowl on the shelf at my tea class, which I can get to use. There is one particular bowl that I am fond of using‏. It is a flat beige bowl. It’s a small bowl that fits in the palms. The simple clay and glaze feel calm and gentle. It looks round but it actually has slight distortions and rough surface. Those imperfectness captures me. I learned that the bowl is made by hand forming, not with a turning wheel. Now, it makes sense why it has the primitive look. I’m thinking of making this kind of bowl myself, even if I failed once in the past.

The flat beige bowl

Pottery workshop

I visited the pottery studio again. The dimensions and thickness were the points for me to pay attention this time. I’ve actually measured many tea bowls and decided the size I want. I was thinking that clay was flexible, so you could easily form it into whatever figure you want. However, it was damn difficult to fix it once it got deformed. I had to do it from scratch for a few times. Anyway, I was absorbed in working on clay forgetting about the time.

Imperfection on a bowl

The instructor said that you should try to make the bowl as carefully as possible when forming it by hand. No matter how hard you try, the bowl will have a slight of distortion and roughness. Those primitiveness will become the charm of the tea bowl. I totally agree. I made the bowl with care. However, the form got too unbalanced and the surface is too bumpy to look charming. It looks like it has been made by a child‏, hahaha. I’m happy that at least, I got the size I desired, and it’s usable. Japanese bowls look rustic and imperfect so you might think that you can make one by yourself. It’s wrong. I keenly realized that the tasteful bowls can be created only with good skills. This experience gave me a new interesting aspect to appreciate when observing a bowl in the tea room.

My handmade bowl