The Story Bowl Story - As Emilie Tells It

The Story Bowl by Emilie Parker

1.  Inspiration

For the Story Bowl I started with a very large bowl mold.  The day I made this bowl was a beautiful Colorado day outside, clear and mild, big blue sky, fresh air, just as the summer was turning into fall.  I walked several blocks to my studio and I pulled out the big bag of white clay.  The clay requires wedging at first which is a little like kneading bread.  It takes a lot of hand, arm and back strength to compress and turn the clay on a heavy stone wedging table.  This is how I connected with the clay that day, as I pressed and compressed the clay with the strength of my hands arms and shoulders. 

2.  The Molding of the Bowl

I made a big slab from the smooth malleable clay.  I rolled it between layers of cloth to make textured slabs. I would be cutting shapes and overlaps and coaxing the round shape into the slabs as I pressed it into place.  My art comes from within, so my plans at the beginning was so simple -- to make a big bowl.   I stay open to any outcome.  I create out of a feeling or from intuition – whatever I have right at that instant.  That’s why every day is something different.  At that point, when the intuition zone kicks in, I can work for hours with no break.  Each seam and crack may become part of the design or be smoothed or cut away.  I turn the bowl as I work seeing new potential for shapes and ideas to emerge at each glance.  I cut shapes of mountains, clouds, water and press them – flowers and fish -- filling up the spaces in between with lovely shapes of nature.  As the day slips by I keep my heart open to the possibilities.  When I’m too tired to go on I spray it with water and cover it with wet sheets of newspaper and 4 layers of plastic bags to keep it moist.  The next day, I continue to add and take away clay, observing and building with slabs and sprigs, coils, tiny balls and pinches of clay, until it’s done.

3.  The Drying and First Firing

I dried the new bowl covered with plastic in the mold for about a month.  Every few days I open and inspect and smooth and scrape it a bit during that time.  I check to make sure it’s drying slowly and evenly.   Refine it.  Then into the kiln it goes for the first firing.

4.  The Glazing Phase

After the first firing of the story bowl I painted it with velvet under glazes, clear glaze, lovely light green celadon, and Wright’s Water Blue which is a clear green glaze that often can reveal blue hints.  This second glaze firing turns it to white stone and melts the glazes and reveals the colors and patterns on the durable glassy surface. 

5.  A Second Firing

When the last firing was almost cool, I opened the kiln and took the warm bowl into my hands.  I turned it slowly in my hands.  I felt the song of this bowl -- the words and melody -- … to everything, (… turn, turn, turn,) there is a season, turn, turn, turn, and a time for every purpose ….. The Story Bowl







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