by Martha Boshart
Is enjoyment the journey or the destination? For this potter, the journey of double walled vessels lures me into the studio. Trekking through each step I seek those sparkling moments of near perfection when the interior and exterior walls attach without conflict, and the exterior carving survives the thermal voyages of bisque and glaze. These thrills seed hope for the next adventure, reigniting my excitement of mastering the clay.
Thud! A little bit of earth lands on the wheel head. Centering both my focus and the mud, the silky, wet, clay wanders its way upward between my palms, flourishing into a simple thick sided cylinder. Using an index finger, I split the wall, pulling up first the inside and then the outside, coaxing the two to join again at the top leaving a suitable space in between. This double-walled form provides the most provocative canvas to perform intricate carving and still allow for a functional piece. While the pot is still young and pliable, a spout, handle, lips, feet, lid and finial are added, to create a teapot. Absorbed by these transitions, the creative ride is exhilarating. Each addition to the form dictates the course ahead.
Just prior to leather hard stage, using a pencil to work out the pattern on the outer wall, balancing negative and positive space, flow and composition, the lacework reveals itself to the body of the teapot. It can be flowers as in this demonstration, or a geometric or architectural design, mapped out by the shape of the vessel. Using the delicate surgeon's blade, gross negative spaces are removed, being careful not to pierce the inner wall or overcut overlapping elements. The piece is left to dry to leather hard clay, a wonderful surface in which carving the 3 dimensional effects turns hours into moments. When asked how long does it take to carve such details with tiny dental tools and burnishers, it is hard to believe 8-12 hours have passed on the studio clock. So entranced in intertwining vines and flowers, or swirls and balls balanced on waves of excitement or geometric patterns marching behind, under and over each other, the hours seem only as minutes.
In this example, tulips wrap around the body of the teapot where the double wall spans. Once fired and glazed, the solid core makes the unit water tight and ready to receive and dispense tea. Although the finished container is pleasing and intriguing as to will it hold water, it is the memory of the journey and desire to revisit those places that provides all the enjoyment.
This month I've been working on a 13 inch tall double walled teapot. The Daisy Design seems to be appropriate for the spring sales. The stoneware has been a joy to work in, but I've discovered porcelain (cone 6 but still the creamy lovely porcelain).
Just opened up my Kiln and found some wonderful double walled carved bottles with lids. These tiny bottles fit nicely in the palm of your hand. The insides are solid so they will hold liquid even though there are piercings and carvings on the outer walls. They are charming enough on their own gracing your bathroom counter or dressing table. Each one is individual thrown on the wheel and then carved and pierced.