ceramics-wheel thrown functional ware

Clay  has become one of my very favorite mediums to work in. It is inexpensive, fun, unbelievably versatile, and can be worked with numerous expedient processes. Clay lends itself fabulously to making functional pieces that you can enjoy using every day.

Working in ceramic was a major vehicle for me to expand my aesthetic boundaries, and appreciation for styles outside of my experience as a designer and painter.  Sculpture, in general, and pottery, inparticular, is about touch-how it feels in the hand and against your lips as you drink or eat from it. Also, and possibly more than any other craft, pottery lends itself to the beautiful, simple solution.  Uncomplicated, elegant shapes that reflect the makers process. Working in ceramics yields pieces of affordable, usable art that that are just what they need to be- pleasurable to handle and use.

the following are a few examples of the types of functional pieces that I am currently doing.

“Tavern” mugs-feminine, rustic styled mugs, simply glazed, with a generous belly to hold plenty of coffee or tea. At home this is the style that I’ll reach for 9 times out of 10.

PICT0342 copy copy

PICT0343 copy copy

A small pitcher, or creamer, done in this same “tavern” style-

PICT0344 copy copy

A new mug style that I’m just developing- a more elegant, hour glass shaped  style. I’m particularly happy with how cleanly the handle flows in and out of the form-

PICT0326 copy copy

chatter worked whisky tumblers. Chatter working is a texturing method using a flexible steel tool that one places against the piece as it turns on the wheel. The steel “skips” over the surface leaving a pattern of gouges, or “chatter”, on the surface. As glaze, which is actually a mixture of clay and glass, melts in the kiln and flows over the surface, it “breaks” over the highs and lows in the texture, leaving a very interesting surface-

PICT0318 copy copy

PICT0319 copy copy

PICT0320 copy copy

small drinking tumblers, glazed over a wheel grooved surface. The small stamp on all of these pieces is my “chop” (symbol that is the potters signature). It is done by pressing a clay stamp that I made into a little wad of clay set on the leather hard surface of the “green” (still wet) piece.It’s  stylized monkey in a house, “Monkeyhaus Pottery”-

PICT0321 copy copy

PICT0322 copy copy

PICT0323 copy copy

Medium sized drinking tumblers-

PICT0324 copy copy

PICT0325 copy copy

“fountain” cups. old style soda fountain ice cream goblets-

PICT0341 copy copy

“hooch” bottles. Loop-lugged small whiskey bottles-

PICT0327 copy copy

PICT0329 copy copy

PICT0331 copy copy

PICT0330 copy copy

PICT0336 copy copy

These show variation in the mouth. One utilizes  an old “apothecary” style pouring spout on the stopper rim-

PICT0335 copy copy

rustic “hooch” bottles. The tops are left intentionally unrefined, and irregular, to mimic a more ancient style-

PICT0332 copy copy

A couple with a more unusual matt glazing, and a couple with chatter-work ornament-

PICT0337 copy copy

PICT0338 copy copy

This piece shows the versatility of clay as a medium. “Thrown and altered” refers to the process of using the wheel to create the symmetrical base shape, and then deforming it with your fingers when it is stopped. This vase form plays off of some Arts and Crafts pieces from the early 1900’s-

PICT0340 copy copy

Chatter-worked vases-

PICT0333 copy copy

PICT0334 copy copy

More sculptural, and highly ornamented pieces. These are examples of  a couple of  Greek or Roman styled “urns” that I decorated by applying a contrasting slip (liquid clay) to the pot’s surface and then free-hand carving-

PICT0345 copy copy

PICT0346 copy copy

PICT0347 copy copy

PICT0348 copy copy

PICT0351 copy copy

PICT0353 copy copy

PICT0354 copy copy

A little “tea pot” spouted vessel. I use this one at the stove for holding and pouring olive oil-


These are but a tiny fraction of the pieces that I have produced. I’ll post more later.


4 Responses to ceramics-wheel thrown functional ware

  1. judi says:

    Amazing Rob–and good photography, too!

  2. Gene says:

    Very impressive array of pieces, great variety and beautifully executed! Terrific photography shows the high quality of workmanship and design!

    Excellent work!

  3. Sally Stotts says:

    Rob, I have a great idea for you. Put these pictures, along with more of the pieces that you have produced, into a book. It would rival anything on the market today on creating functional pottery. Your work is superb!

  4. Devon says:

    I seriously love the rays & jelly fish urns. I’ve never seen that before!


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