Daily Archives: July 14, 2016

Timeout for Art: Begging Bowls


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I start with a ball of clay about the size of an orange. Sometimes I roll the ball in powdered clay of a darker color, to add texture and interest to the surface. I open the ball by pressing a thumb into the center of what will now be the top. Only to the first knuckle, though: it’s important to work slowly, so the clay will willingly take the shape without cracking or splitting. I turn the ball in my hands, supporting the outside wall with one hand while stretching and smoothing the inside wall with the thumb. This is thoughtful, meditative work. It is impossible to rush it. Eventually, it will become a thin-walled vessel that will easily fit in the contours of an open palm. That’s where the name “begging bowl” comes from. I like the idea that if you place one in the location of something you need (and perhaps drop a few coins in it occasionally), what you need will eventually come to you.

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