“Technical ability grows naturally with experience, but conceptual rigor needs constant attention and exploration.”  Sean O’Connell

Although not all potters aspire to be production potters, all potters will benefit from the skills required to make dinnerware.  Potters who can make multiple pots similar in form and size are efficient throwers and have the technical skills to accomplish any sort of pot.  And, potters who can develop a unified dinnerware set are effective in creatively relating one pot to another.

Essentially, there are two basic to making dinnerware sets:

  • Similar pieces must be similar
  • Dissimilar pieces must relate to one another

No. 2:  Dissimilar pieces must relate to one another – the dinner plate and the chili bowl must look like they belong to the same series.  Although there are some technical considerations, this challenge is mainly conceptual.  How do you go about creating a family of pots?

Here are some tips that can help achieve this:

  • Use the same clay for the entire family of pots
  • Glaze the family of pots in the same glaze(s) – this is the easiest way to make diverse pots relate; color unifies and mutes differences
  • Glaze the family of pots at the same time
  • Fire glazed pots in the same kiln firing
  • Make structural marks when throwing
  • Add texture – carving or slip on all pots
  • Use wax resist to make similar patterns on the pots
  • Use the same rim treatment on all pots – cut/wavy/split/squared
  • Keep shapes similar – organic/geometric/chunky/elegant

Making a dinnerware set requires getting plates and bowls and tumblers to associate with one another.  Ask yourself how you can make the pieces relate to one another.  Give your pots something to make them look like they are a family.  This is a huge challenge and one that you may enjoy resolving over and over again!