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Carpet Bowls – Kind of

April 17, 2013

This project was inspired by a clear class bowl I got from my grandmother. Wondering what I could put inside the bowl other than fake fruit I remembered seeing decorative balls made with feathers, rope, and fabric. Since I had just finished making many, many Christmas ornaments I decided to adjust the same process to make ceramic decorative balls. Apparently the decorative balls I was thinking of are called “carpet bowls.” From what I read online they are not “carpet balls” but “carpet bowls.”  During the Victorian area these collectable antiques were used to play a game of bowling on a carpet or outside. They were fun to make, but I don’t think they would work very well for carpet bowling since I put different textures on them.

The first few steps of the decorative balls are just like the Christmas ornaments. I begin by opening up the piece like a bowl and slowly closing the top to create a closed form. Once the clay is closed the air trapped inside prevents the clay from collapsing so I can shape the piece into a round ball.

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Using a metal rib and a corner from my wooden rib I created designs in the balls. Some I decorated with swirls, curves, or indentations.

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After they dried to leather hard I trimmed them in a similarly to the Christmas ornaments. It is quite difficult to center the balls in order to trim them, but Kristen lent me her tiny level to place on top which reduced the trimming time. For the last touch I put a small whole with a needle tool to let out the air, because as the piece dries and shrinks the trapped air inside would cause it to crack.

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It was a lot of fun to glaze the pieces! I tried out several different glazes and painted designs with the black slip. Firing created a bit of a problem since they would roll around the kiln unless they had wadding. In order to attach the wadding some of the piece will have to be with out glaze so I decided to put them in the salt kiln since the unglazed areas look really cool. Below are picture of the finished decorated balls! I am excited about how well they turned out and will definitely make more!

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