How To Make Clay Bowls

Never mind meditating; potter is a craft that has the potential to immediately transport you into a relaxing state.  Really, if you want to get back in touch with the earth, this direct contact with clay is one way to do it.  It’s a little more socially acceptable than going out and hugging a tree, and is just as soothing.
Now, where would you start?
The best thing for starting anything new is to start simply, one step at a time.
Finding clay
There are lots of different types of clay.  Head to a ceramic or pottery shop and ask the experienced clay users which one is best for your needs.  You will probably be shown bags of clay.  You don’t need too much to start off with and one bag will be more than enough.  The clay should be kept sealed and away from sunlight, otherwise it will dry out.

Have clay, will create
As soon as you have your clay at home, you will find that you have this strong urge to get your hands on it.  And soon after that, you will have the desire to make something.  Anything.  Your creative streak will be awakened.
As you consider what to make, you might find yourself thinking of all the perfectly shaped and beautifully decorated ceramic bowls, cups and plates that you’ve seen displayed in fancy shops.  The leap from your lump of clay to that might take quite a big stretch of the imagination, at first.  But do not be intimidated.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, so they say.
Practice makes perfect.  But, then again, clay work does not have to be perfect.  Some of the most sought after bowls and clayware are the ones with a few imperfections that indicate that the item was actually made by a person and not some mass-producing machine.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves here.  The main reason why there are so many frustrated artists out there, is precisely because of the pressure they put themselves under to make something grand, when in actual fact, creating should be fun and therapeutic.
The goal of a bowl
Feel the clay in your hands, smooth it down, mould it, squish it and get used to it.
To make a bowl, break off a small chunk of clay and roll it into a ball between your hands.
Then, use your thumbs to indent a hole in the centre while turning the clay around with your fingers.
It will take time to get the shape you want and you will need to smooth over any cracks that might appear.  Remember not to push your thumbs down too hard otherwise you might break through the clay, or end up with a vase instead of a bowl.
Once you are happy with your object, leave it to dry for a day or two, until it is hard.
The next step is to fire your bowl in a kiln.  Ask a friend who has one, or again, seek out a pottery shop.
Taking your newly fired bowl out of the kiln is like baking a cake.  Okay, you can’t eat it, but seeing the transformed end product is exciting.  The clay usually changes colour and the rich earthy tones are beautifully rewarding.
After that, you can either leave it as is, or choose to paint it and then fire it once more.
All in all, it is the process as well as the end result that makes clay work so appealing.

Featured images:
  •  License: Creative Commons image source

Written by Tess Holland on behalf of You Did It, a website dedicated to the experienced DIY-lover or those just starting with a new project.

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