Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Italian Bowl

A few years back, the National Constitution Center featured an exhibit called Ancient Rome & America which showcased the cultural, political, and social connections between the lost world of ancient Rome and modern America. As is typically the case with exhibits, the visitor exited the show to a gift shop that offered many reproductions of items from the exhibit, including the lovely Italian pottery bowl below. There were two color choices, a beautiful, tranquil blue and a creamy white…I chose the white, but only after much deliberation!

I could not get that blue bowl out of my head, so I decided to make my version of what I now affectionately call the Italian Bowls in pottery class. As you see in the original, the design includes many delicate and fanciful scrolls and curly-cues, and a few raised medallions, including a cherub. Recreating these intricate details has been challenging, especially achieving the thinness of the scrolls and then attaching them to the bowl. I make the medallions using lace doilies, candy molds and other clay building do-dads borrowed from my wonderful classmates and very talented teacher, Annie. It's nice being in a classroom each week with such wonderful and gifted people....they inspire me!

This blue version of my Italian Bowl is actually my 4th attempt and each time my detail-adding skills become more polished, delicate and perhaps even a bit more daring and original…like the little crown. Adding detail of this sort requires patience and sometimes I spend two class nights embellishing just one bowl. Glazing these pieces is a breeze because I have settled on just two options…the beautiful blue you see or the creamy white of the original. I rub off some of the glaze along the edge and on some of the detail to give each a rustic, archaeological feel.

I am thrilled.

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