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I Like Small Bowls

tea bowl

ceramic bowls

Bowls hold secret powers. They are the perfect shape. They are functional, simple, yet they can hold so much meaning for us.

When I was slinging clay around in college, I felt the need to prove something to myself by focusing on making giant clay sculptures. They were funny. And heavy. On the side I messed around with making small bowls, but I never let myself really get into functional pieces because I had some lofty notion that I was an artist and not a craftsperson. I was 20, eh?
Although my huge, ungainly sculptures have all long been turned into landfill, I actually kept a few of the bowls I made, and they make me happy to use daily.
Today if I had a kiln and a wheel, I would probably lock myself away and listen to loud, awesome music and make thousands of bowls. In fact, for as much fun as I had making my air dry clay bowl project, I felt a pang of sadness that I couldn’t fire them and get that little thrill when you first open the kiln and see how all the glazes turned out.
I learned about Japanese tea bowls when I was at RISD, and immediately fell in love. The whole aesthetic behind these bowls is brilliant- after each bowl is thrown, the craftsperson adds in a tiny flaw to represent the balance of perfection and imperfection- wabi-sabi.

Hagi ware tea bowl in the shape of a Korean tea bowl
18th-19th century – source
This is a fantastic resource for checking out different tea bowl shapes as well as photos of examples of bowls in the corresponding shapes.
Japanese tea bowls shapes
tea bowl
Korakuen ware, Edo period (1615 – 1868),  source
I also keep my eyeballs peeled for beautiful small bowls online and out in the world, and I will share some with you here, but only if you promise to love and adore them as much as I do. (I’m trying to up my creep factor here, how’s it working?)
bowl setThis is the My Fare Lady bowl set from Modcloth. I love the quirky home stuff they have.
handmade pasta bowls
What a terrific set of pasta bowls from Leslie Freeman Designs on Etsy.
bowls by Rupert Spira
Divine! Sublime! I will marry these bowls by Rupert Spira. Or eat cereal out of them.
2 bowls
This celadon green and pale turquoise blue are one of my favorite color combinations. Plus, I’m trying to use pretty bowls and containers to hold all my crap now instead of plastic bins.
set of 4 handmade ice cream bowls
I’m in love with these weird, textural ice cream bowls. LOVE.
white wood textured bowl
I like this little number because it looks like a stump! Bowl stump. Tree bowl.
set of 3 bowls
Pretty, pretty marbley-looking ceramic bowls from One and Many on Etsy.

What do you think?

Written by Joanne Gonzales

Joanne Gonzales has a passion for getting creative. Whether she is making personalized DIY gifts or taking part in larger arts and crafts projects, she puts her all into making new and beautiful things.

She lives with a group of close friends and believes in the natural way of life. Joanne has built an outdoor arts and crafts gallery that overlooks the countryside in her hometown, which is where all of her creations come to life.

Art started off as a hobby, but over time Joanne has mastered her skills and sold some of her favorite pieces. She works full time as a florist and has done for many years. It helps keep her creative juices flowing and she hopes to one day open her own florist shop with a twist.


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  1. You had me with the first image of the Shino glaze kintsugi tea bowl. I too love small bowls and cannot lie- this is a great post! I still have a a few “ice cream bowls” I made in college for a “set” assignment (I chose cake plates and ice cream bowls for a “Birthday Set”)- the plates are long gone but the bowls remain favorites.
    Your air dry bowls are really inspiring- a great project to do with our local library teen group this summer- thanks for the great idea!

    • Yes! A kindred spirit! I would love to see your ice cream bowls. I have one french fry dish left I made for a set assignment, too. I hope the bowls are hits with your teen group this summer- I bet they’ll have fun making them.

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