Come June, when cherries and strawberries are in plentiful supply, a berry bowl is a necessity in my household. A berry bowl can double as a colander for draining noodles if it’s big enough; it can be put atop a pot of boiling water to steam vegetables, and it can be used as a fruit bowl when you don’t have fresh berries. A berry bowl is simply a bowl with holes in it so you can fill it with berries, wash them, and set them aside to drain. A berry bowl should also come with a saucer to keep puddles from collecting on your countertop.
Throwing and Trimming the Bowl
Next, use your two opposed index fingers to alter the rim at evenly spaced intervals (6). This adds dynamic energy to the rim.
Finally, cut under the bowl with a cutting wire.
Throwing the Saucer, Finishing the Bowl
To further aid in drainage, put a notch in the foot of the bowl so that water doesn’t get trapped inside the foot ring (see 10). Clean up the underside of the saucer as necessary, but you should not need to trim a foot on it.
Drilling the Drainage Holes
Now, pierce holes all along these lines. Using a lightweight cordless drill with a bit around inch (smaller if you want to use it as a colander), pierce holes about an inch apart along the lines you drew (11). Drill holes where your lines cross each other first, then evenly space out the rest of the holes. When you finish the pattern, turn the bowl right side up and use a stiff brush to clear away the burrs and crumbs of clay from the inside. If the clay was too soft, you’ll have a harder time cleaning the crumbs away. Next time, let it dry a little longer. As an optional last step, you can replace the drill bit with a countersink bit and use it to bevel the edge of every hole inside and out (12). Finally, simply sponge over the surface, inside and out, to soften the edges of the holes.
To glaze a berry bowl, you’re best off dipping the bowl straight down into a single glaze, or dipping it sideways half in one glaze and then half into a different glaze. It’s difficult to pour or layer glazes on a pot full of holes, but you can dip the rim in a second glaze for a layered look, if desired. Be aware that multiple overlapping glazes may run and clog your holes! You might want to avoid translucent glazes such as celadons, which will show all the streaks where glaze runs through the holes. Use a hole-cleaning tool or a drill bit to clean excess glaze from inside the holes but be careful not to clean away all the glaze inside the holes.
In 2021 after 30 years of teaching pottery in the Denver area, Sumi von Dassow moved to the small town of Beulah, Colorado. She owns a studio and gallery, Beulah Valley Pottery, and is the president of the Beulah Valley Arts Council. She has contributed many articles to Pottery Making Illustrated. Look for her third book on pottery for the home and garden, published by The American Ceramic Society, due out next year.