OK, you’ve made a bowl…Now what?

Today’s blog will be devoted to the decorative and artistic side of bowl making. It will also be finishing up the topic of bowls. Now what I’m about to say may sound controversial to sum and just plain piss off others.

Making a bowl, or a cup or a plate isn’t art.

Its just not.

It’s a craft. It’s artisanship. It’s definitely creative, but its not art. Now somewhere there is a ceramic professor steaming, but hear me out.

Would you call a stretched and primed canvas that hasn’t been painted art?

What about a piece of marble that’s been quarried and cut to specific dimensions but not carved?

No, because they’re not art. They are the raw material we use before we make art. That’s the same with your bowl. If all you do is throw, trim, fire and glaze your bowl, its craft. Beautiful craft, skilled craft, but still craft.

(I can hear the steam coming out of people’s heads.)

To make it art, or hell just to make it interesting, you need to go beyond. That’s what I’m going to talk about and give you ideas for today. How to add decorative and artistic elements that if not elevating your work to the level of art, will definitely help you develop a sense of style that is your own.

So I won’t be going into hard instruction of techniques, but rather give you examples in hope that it will spark your creativity. Know that we are now venturing into the world of experimentation. So cast out the idea of right and wrong and try to connect with the playful and inquisitive side of you.


If you have a drawing/painting background its the simplest, fastest and easiest way to add decorative and artistic elements to your work. You could either draw directly into raw clay with a pin tool, add slip to it it first and then use a pin tool (which is called scrafito), you could let it get bone dry and paint with slips or my personal favorite add white slip to the piece, bisque it then paint with slips and dip it into clear glaze.

**I know some teachers will tell you that if you paint slip onto bisqueware you need to bisque it again. Scientifically speaking, you don’t. You can add glaze right on top of the slip painted bisqueware and fire it. That being said every communal studio has there procedure so ask the techs/managers first. **

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

Another thing you can do is distort the shape of your bowl for example:

That’s easily achieved either by hitting it on to a table top or with a paddle/piece of wood. I also incorporated cutting out pieces to create handles. When I add in the drawing and painting element I get this:

Speaking of cutting away you can always cut pieces out in patterns like this:

Now these are all just touching the surface. Some other things you could do with your bowl is sculpt reliefs onto them or add figurative elements/potraiture. You could carve abstract designs or use stamps to leave patterns.

My point is this: experiment. Have fun. Play around. You are only limited by your imagination!

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pottery videos to watch, that I take a lot of inspiration from:


So hopefully you are now well inspired. So go to the studio and make something.

Questions on the technique, email me at sparanoarts@gmail.com, like what I’m doing feel free to shop my Etsy store

4 Responses to “OK, you’ve made a bowl…Now what?”
  1. Karen says:

    That last video, of the masters, was amazing.


Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] you love to carve and decorate. If you’ve got a heavy fine arts background, particularly in sculpture, this way of working […]


  2. […] you are new to it and attempting to cut out pieces from the vessel. In a previous post I discussed decorative options. Today though, I’d like to go in just a little more detail on how to do […]


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