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Published Sep 1, 2021

Wide shallow bowls are great fun to make because they present a wide open canvas for decoration. But it can be a challenge to avoid the dreaded "beginner's hump"—the unsightly interruption of the continuous curve of the interior of a bowl.

So in today's post, I thought I would share an excerpt from the Pottery Making Illustrated archive, in which Jason Hartsoe gives helpful tips on throwing a wide bowl. If you have ever struggled with large wide bowls, don't skip this one! —Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor

PS. Want to learn how Jason decorates these bowls? Check out the September/October 2021 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated!

A wide shallow bowl lends the potter a large surface area for expressive decoration. When in use, it can easily function as a focal point for a kitchen table top, the locus of offering and the center of the meal-time radius. Once it’s provided its function and the fresh summer salad has been served up, the bowl reveals its decorative charm. 1 After centering, open the ball of clay and throw up and outward keeping the roll of clay contained by both hands. 2 Define the rim early in the throwing process. Keep the rim thick to allow for widening the diameter.3 Maintain support of the clay wall with your outside hand while opening with a rib.

Throwing the Large Bowl

Start with 8 pounds of soft clay centered on the wheel and open out to a bowl form. This should get you to a finished circumference of approximately 13 inches, depending on the depth of your dish and the size of the foot. Establish the wide rim early, at the end of the first pull. Make this rim much wider and beefier than you might think necessary as it will thin out as the dish gains in circumference. I tend to make two pulls, pulling the first from the outside hand and the next from the inside, creating a pancheon-like shape but keeping a soft inside curve. If this inside curve is interrupted, it is very hard to get it back. The rest of the opening is made by pressing a large rib against the inside of the slowly turning pot while compressing and maintaining support from the outside hand, then moving from the bottom center to the lip. Leave enough clay under the shoulder of the pot and near the rim to prevent sagging. 

The approach to trimming is similar to that of a pedestal bowl, but there’s a lot less of it to do. Define the outside edge of the foot and then cut out the interior, creating a convex cavity. Then, cut away some of the supporting clay with an eye to creating a sense of lift from the foot, while leaving enough to keep the pot from sagging. 

4 Develop the rim by creating a jig with both hands and compressing with the wheel moving slowly. 5 Once the bowl is leather hard, begin trimming by establishing the foot and cutting out the clay inside the foot ring.6 Finish trimming by cutting away the surplus clay in the shoulder and defining the profile of the bowl.