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Creating a Quality Bowl

My bowls bear witness to care and craftsmanship from the minute they emerge as curved, useful shapes, from chunks of giant hardwood trees. From those who forest the trees to the skilled hands that turn them on whirling lathes, there are years of knowledge and skill involved in every step of the process. Each person involved in the making is a master at what they do...they have to be!

I thought I would just describe the progression I go through to paint each bowl I create. It is quite a process, with dry time in between each step, so it takes about a week to complete the painting of a bowl.

When I consider everything that has already had to occur before I hold these smooth and valued pieces of wood in my hands, I am compelled to do my best to add to the beauty. Sometimes that means adding less, and sometimes it means adding more. When the wood grain of a bowl is quite special, I try not to cover it. When the wood grain contains natural blemishes, I try to minimize those and enhance other elements.

I paint the bowl back first, let it dry and sand it, then paint it again and allow it to dry overnight. I give the bowl-back two layers of clear-coat to protect it, with another sanding in-between.

Next I move to my favorite part, painting the inside of the bowl. This involves 2-6 colors of paint, and again, two coats, with sanding and dry time in between. All paint is applied by brush, and is blended by hand. After it is thoroughly dry, I apply a layer of clear-coat, allow it to dry, sand, and apply another layer. This protects each finished surface from flying paint in my creative frenzy.

Sanding is my least favorite part, but so important; suffice to say, I will never have beautiful nails... (sigh)...

Finally, I move to the rim work. It is the smallest surface of the bowl, but the part that makes the biggest difference in its appearance. I thoroughly sand the rim to remove any paint or clear coat that has accumulated there, and then paint two coats of the background color, again sanding between coats. I add color bars and finally apply metallic gilding to enliven each design. This all has to dry thoroughly, usually overnight.

Each step of the rim-painting process makes incredible changes in the appearance of the bowl. I sometimes think I have a hot mess in the works, but sanding and painting the rim brings order out of chaos.

Finally I begin to clear-coat the entire bowl, one side at a time and one layer at a time. Each layer is brushed on by hand. Gilded areas especially have to be thoroughly covered, but the entire bowl gets at least seven layers on all surfaces. Thorough drying is important, and sanding with fine sandpaper insures the final surface will be like satin. This is what gives my bowls their amazingly hard, smooth finish, that protects both the color and the wood.

After a week, and some 30 or more steps, my bowl is ready to become your bowl. I hope that you can now picture the process, from the forests of the Mid-west, to my studio in the Colorado Mountains.

Most of all, I hope you are able to gather often, with family and friends, around a table of delicious food, and savor the memory afterward!