Project 2: Bowls

Project 2: Bowls


The bowl and the cylinder are the two basic forms of all wheel thrown pottery shapes. Fundamentally, a bowl is a curved plane with many proportional possibilities for width, depth, and volume.  Bowls are a good starting point for learning wheel throwing because the natural inclination of the spinning clay is to open into a bowl due to the centrifugal force.  Through practice we will learn to work with the wheel to articulate the shapes that we desire.

In the tea ceremony in Japan, there are summer and winter bowls. The summer bowl is shallow and open allowing the tea to cool quickly while the winter bowl is deeper and narrower to keep the tea hot. The same idea holds true for food. In an aesthetic sense, when the rim is the widest point the interior of the bowl is the focal point. If the wall is more vertical and the rim is constricted, the exterior is more visible and the interior may be somewhat hidden.

Many bowl shapes are versatile in terms of function, therefore the aesthetic intent can be a strong impetus to determine the shape.

Research Questions

  • What foods do you eat from bowls? Are there specific functional requirements related to these foods? The culture that the food originates from would be a good place to look pottery style sources.
  • Look closely at the bowls that you use at home, in the dining hall, in restaurants, etc.
    • What aspects of theses bowls stand out: appearance, usability, elegance, weight, etc.?
    • How could these bowls be more suited to your taste?
  • Look for examples of historical and contemporary ceramic bowls. Sketch the bowls that appeal to you.
  • What kind of attitude or feeling do you want your bowls to have?  How will you use the foot, rim and curve to establish your idea?  How should the bowl sit on the table, grounded or elevated? Will the foot accentuate the volume of the bowl? Will it be parallel or juxtaposed to the profile of the form?
  • What is the intended function of your bowls?  How will the form relate to the function?  Mixing bowls meant to contain liquid contents during stirring have a different shape than serving bowls that are meant to invite the hand to select something from the bowl.
  • What are ways that the interior and exterior of the bowl can relate?


  • 2 sketches of historical bowls that relate to your idea
  • 2 sketches of contemporary bowls that relate to your idea
  • 6 sketches of your own ideas that incorporate your answers to the research questions and historical and contemporary bowls

Technical Goals

  • Continue the development of wedging, throwing, and trimming skills with particular attention to a smooth interior curve. Bowls should have smooth, continuous interior curves without bumps or depressions. Walls should be even, including bottom thickness. This will require trimming well
  • Weight is appropriate for scale and function. 
  • Foot treatment should be considered and well-executed. Feet do not necessarily have to be trimmed Note, however, that the bowl will need trimming regardless of whether you decide to have a trimmed foot.
  • Surface treatment (slip and/or glaze) is effectively applied. 
  • Bowl functions for stated purpose.

Aesthetic Goals

  • Design decisions support attitude, including thickness, scale, edge and form, surface, color, surface design, etc.   
  • Foot shape, proportion, and placement is visually effective for your content.
  • Interior/exterior relationship reflects stated plan.


8 bowls that are personal service-sized (cereal, soup, noodle)  – minimum 5”    

  • All bowls:  Choose personal content/attitude for your bowl s, e.g. playful, elegant, rugged, futuristic, nostalgic, formal, etc.
  • Develop a plan for relating the inside and outside surfaces. Consider, for example, whether to compliment or contrast, to continue the outside to the inside (or vice versa), to make the surfaces different but related, or to make the surfaces contrasting. 
  • Your bowls may look different, but should have a related attitude. You may do 4 in one attitude and 4 in another. You may choose how you relate the surfaces within your bowls, but should have a plan for what the relationship is for each bowl. 


1/25    Sketches due 

2/08  Leather Hard Critique

2/22     BISQUE  PROJECT 2

 3/1    Glaze PROJECT 2

3/13   CRITIQUE 


Grade weighting percentages for this project

  • Research -10%
    • research answers, description of your plans, 8 sketches, blog
  • Technical Skill – 60% (15% ea)
    • Throwing/form craftsmanship and function
    • Trimming and foot finish
    • Glazing/surface craftsmanship
    • Function of bowl for stated purpose
  • Aesthetic/Design skills- 30% (15% ea)
    • Development of effective interior/exterior strategy
    • Use of form, proportion, color, edge and other design elements to         

support your concept.


500 Bowls. Lark Books