I begin with a template of folded paper, in the form of a triangle with a flattened base. I refold and cut until the angles are right. The vessel must rise, but be grounded as well. Using the template I cut fresh slabs of red clay to size. Set out on the work table they are beautiful in themselves. I hesitate to touch them further. But I do. I comb them with a metal tool. It is like a caress. That is enough for the first day. The slabs have to rest, to firm up.
Day two, construction begins. I bevel the edges to be joined, then score them with a needle, paint them with slip, then very carefully lift each slab, wishing I had three hands instead of two, propping one slab up against my chest while juggling the other two. I coax them together, gently, until they form a tent of clay, even, balanced, pressing the edges together to seal the seams. I take a deep breath. I look and look to make sure that all is holding and that it is even. It is a critical time for correcting any imbalance. Now I can add the base and make sure the piece is level.
Day four, I begin to build, first one tier then another, angling out or in successively.
Day five, I seem to approach resolution. It is beginning to have a life. Maybe it is done. There is much looking to do, correcting, tooling. There comes a moment when I am sure it is complete. I cover the piece with dampened cloth sheets, then several layers of plastic. It must dry slowly so that all the parts knit together, no one part drying more slowly than the other. After about a month it is ready for firing in my gas kiln. The reduction firing gives the clay a toasty color.
With a focus on harmony and balance these vessels are formal and architectural in nature.
Day three, I must turn the piece rightside up. It is a delicate procedure. I must be careful not to lose the balance I achieved. I hug the piece and gently set it upright. If there are ribs to be added along the seams now is the time to do it. I roll out fresh slabs in long sheets for the upper tiers. They need to dry overnight before they can be added. The drying of all the parts is very important.