Monday, 16 December 2013

Just Resting.

Making pots is what I do.
Finding a home for them is where it gets a little tricky.
It seems that there are plenty of gift shops that call themselves Galleries that will take pots on sale or return. But that has never worked for me.
You know the kind of place. Glass and chrome shelves, those little bright spotlights on wires. Lots of prints, cards and jewellery at the front, some gaudy glass, like half sucked lollipops and lurking on the back wall, an eclectic collection of ceramics. Something for most tastes but the brighter and more quirky the better.
Honest, wood fired vessels can't compete, poorly displayed and relegated to the bottom shelf, I find myself fetching them back six months later.

So from November through December I start to send out applications for ceramic fairs, markets and contemporary craft events and wait...

In January onwards the 'unsuccessful', or these days it is referred to as 'rested' along with the 'You have been selected' emails start to pop up and from this wreckage I put together the years marketing and selling campaign. Some don't even reply or put you on a waiting list, so that's how I find myself in Penrith, Cumbia and five days later in Oldenburg, Germany, but nowhere to go in July and September.

Needless to say, all these events have different formats. It can be an open space with four chalk marks to indicate your home for a few days. In a big tent set on a sloping, soggy field or a table in a hall and none of them are the same size, so a very flexible display system is required and an ability to work in feet and inches, metres and centimetres and guesswork.

Mostly I enjoy this solution to selling my pots. I meet up with other potters and get the gossip, see lots of inspiring work by other artists, whilst adding to our growing collection of fine pots. Good neighbours can make or break a show. We've made many friends, like minded people who work hard, make work with passion and great skill and take their chance in a field with a hundred others. The most important thing though is meeting the people that buy your work, watching reactions, seeing them pick up a pot and handle it knowingly. Discovering that a few simple flowers can sell a vase, or placing a pot at it's right height makes all the difference to how it draws attention. And during those long inevitable periods of ennui in the last few hours of the day as the crowds dissipate, I watch which stalls draw the most smiles and which like mine are void of buyers or try to guess which folks will stop at a particular stall. I mostly get it wrong, it is not yet a perfect science.

Now as we head up towards Christmas, the deluge of Christmas markets, craft events, coffee mornings and girly bling shows is upon us. "Can you bring a few pots, we are having a fund raising event".
You have to pick your events carefully here. It seems more and more people are doing a bit of craft work to earn a few bob and not all of them actually make the stuff they sell.
Draw a dicky bird and have it printed on a mug made in Poland. Put it in a jute bag with a draw string bought on the internet - instant craft and they sell like... well, hot cakes and you stand there with the zip zip of cellotape all around, wondering what you are doing here.

On reflection, it's been another good year and now resting completely it's back to making new work, to top up what is left. It seems most of it has found a new home.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Dear David,

I thought it was time for an apology.

Now that no one seems to write or send letters we have to rely on email or social media to communicate more and more. Smiley faces, likes and thumbs up (or down) and a hundred and forty characters have to say it all.
I've always tried to stay underneath the radar as it were, I work best alone, so I am a late adopter when it comes to things like Facebook. I've got it pretty locked down mind you, you don't need my date of birth, where I went to school or who I live with, but saying things with pictures is right where I am comfortable and if they can be enjoyed, well that's fine.

The downside is the images generate interest and emails start to follow...

Hi, we love your work and want to sell your wonderful pots on our exciting new on line gallery.

I did check out a couple of these and clicked my way through pages of bright commercial art. There is one of these 'Art works' hanging in my dentist's waiting room. Not a single pot to be seen, needless to say I employed the little trash symbol and off they went, up into a cloud floating over us all.  :(

Then along came... Hi, we discovered your work and want to sell...  It's always we and I didn't know my pots were lost and needed a rescue mission to find them.   :o

Or... Hi, we stumbled across your work...  That get's a very unsmiling face and thoughts of a vee sign cross my mind. Not very clever is it?  Who wants folks stumbling around lost pots? Yes, yet another  on line gallery of course and the sender is evidently a Maker Cherisher!

Oh to be cherished, discovered and stumbled over. All artists want to be appreciated and their work taken seriously and flattery works... sometimes.

Now I say artist here. I paint and draw stuff sometimes as well as making pots, but I couldn't claim to be an artist. Making pots is placed firmly in the craft box, but please don't email me as 'Craftworker' or 'Maker', only God can claim that title. Potter is fine. Ceramicists or ceramisist or even ceramist, smacks of Labs, white coats and bathroom furniture, so a thumbs down there.
If you look closely at the pictures of the pots, they should say it all.

So I apologise unreservedly as politicians say, to all those emails I have not replied to.

So dare I suggest a good old fashioned, nice, personal letter rather than an email probably sent to another hundred 'Ceramicists' if there is serious interest in what I make?

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Doctor Doctor

Oh Doctor Doctor please the mess I'm in.
My body aches and I feel dog tired,
My eyes are gritty and my arms are lead,
I've been outside to clear my head,
But I know there's no cure, just rest and wait.

Waiting for tomorrow. It just seems a long way off, no way round it, standing looking at the kiln just does not help. Too hot to touch and the ping, ping, ping as the pots settle is too disconcerting. I just stand staring at the heat shimmering off the chimney. The chickens pecking up the insects killed by the heat. Crane Flies with their ungainly flight, collide with the hot bricks and provide Sunday roast.
I need distraction therapy, even going shopping has been considered. It's intense, hard work firing a wood kiln. Two days packing, glazing pots, lifting heavy batts into position, stacking bricks and wood, chopping kindling and finally the actual firing itself. Once started there is no going back. Light a small fire outside the kiln and slowly introduce it into the firebox. This first part is easy, let your thoughts wander, try to imagine the outcome. Will the glaze run? Will the fly ash leave it's blush on a bottle's shoulder? Who knows, expectation is one thing, reality will be something else.
The first few hours are steady work, go too fast and two months work is lost.
Some action around the 850-900 degree mark to try and get some body reduction and then the real work begins. The heat climbs, the momentum builds, reach 1250 then maintain it. The firebox heat is fierce, protective gear offers some relief. The last four to five hours the concentration is full on, the heat draining. Only a mere fifteen hour day, try selling that to the bureaucrats in Brussels and their working directive. Then at last the final stubborn cone falls. It's done. Block up all the air ways, go eat and sleep.

And that's my problem today. The culmination of making all those little pots was yesterday and today there is nothing that can be done but wait, worry and pace about.

Apologies to UFO

Friday, 6 September 2013

From the Sea.

Competitions are becoming a feature of some of the Ceramic Fairs that we do. There is usually a theme given and everyone is supposed to go off and produce a piece of work, inspired by the title given. No one gives away their ideas, secrecy is paramount. You can imagine pools of light from shed windows as potters burn the midnight oil on their creations throughout Europe.
It's fun and a good way to generate interest. The public derive great pleasure, wandering through the plinths displayed on the manicured lawns at Hutton in the Forest during Potfest, with slips of paper ready to cast their vote.
Now you can take the easy route and use a piece of work from your repertoire, write some clever words to justify the choice and surreptitiously slide it onto the lawn, or do as most do, spend weeks or at least many hours toiling over ceramic creations.
Faced with a title of so few words, creativity deserts me and weeks are spent trying to come up with that killer idea. Seeing all these wonderful, witty, amazing works of art on their plinths, I wonder why I never thought of that as ideas start to flow. Weeks too late of course, the die is set.

The garden around my workshop is littered with pots that never quite made it to the shard pile. It is the resting place for most of my competition pieces. Pots produced after days of toil never quite reaching the heights of my expectations, lie like shipwrecks amongst the gravel and Alchemilla Mollis.

I am not a blank, white paper creative. I find it's emptiness quite scary. My creativity needs a kickstart, I'm more of a problem solver. My work evolves, brick on brick, an accident observed and worked on, needing a 'wonder if' moment. There are no summer revolutions at Thrussington Pottery. I guess that when I look back at stuff made five years ago, things have moved on, more refined, more subtle, shapes have changed, but no one can wait five years for my master piece. So I stare at the title and end up doing the first thing I can think of when time runs out and panic kicks in. Usually because I HAVE to fire the kiln because I need the other work it contains.
So this year, determined to make a more timely effort, I started to take it seriously the moment the task was issued.
You would think that 'From the Sea' was a gift as a theme, all those fishy puns trawled up shoals of ideas. But wracked, or should it be wrecked with indecision, I started construction on the first half decent idea my addled brain would spawn.

An Amphora, with reclining mermaids for handles - an inscription perhaps ... some lines from Shakespeare's Tempest?

Full fathom five thy father lies; of his bones are coral made:
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
but doth suffer a sea change into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his bell:
Hark! Now I hear them,
Ding-dong bell.

As a graphic designer, a bit of brush script should be a doddle.

The only thing about all this is, it makes you attempt something outside your comfort zone. Problem is you only get one shot at it, if you screw up, then you miss the tide.

The Mermaids must be the first figurative work that I have ever attempted and painting all that lettering onto scraped, crank clay is not the most sensible thing I have tried. As always, the weakest link would determine the final result, and despite choosing the quietest part of the kiln and placing big pots all around the amphora, the amount of fly ash that found it's way all over the pot, was way more than usual or expected and a 'brown pot' emerged. All that painstaking calligraphy, completely obscured.

It seemed appropriate as the title indicated, to return this pot to the sea from whence it had emerged as the birth of it's creation. On a recent trip to Flamborough Head, we did just that. Waiting for high tide, the vessel was committed to the sea.
I was all for leaving it to it's own fate in the surf.

Laura said that would be littering. Not sure if she meant that the pot was rubbish or more concerned about leaving yet more flotsam on the beach, so it came back home to join the rest of the pots on the gravel.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Thinking inside the box.

You know I make little boxes with wooden lids... well some are not so little and they have elaborate lids with combinations of different woods. I've been making these for about three years now and it seems that they have kind of... well for want of a better expression, taken off.
Initially I made one here and one there and no one took much notice. I was given more and more wood and the pile of reclaim, off cuts and bits that no one wanted grew. The boxes and lids became a bit more adventurous and accomplished and I enjoyed the making experience even if they hung around a bit.

It must have been last summer when suddenly people started to take interest. Almost as if radar had been invented and the boxes had suddenly become visible. Folks would see them on the website and come looking at the next show. The few at Wistow Gallery were snapped up. It seemed as if I was always making lids between shows,  just to have enough for a decent display.

It was earlier this year, too cold to pot and with the arrival of the sanding machine that I decided to make tops for some of the bigger bases that were gathering dust on the shelf in the workshop. These were a bit more adventurous, more challenging and as box No. BO70 came off the production line and was sold straight away, it was apparent that ceramic boxes with quirky wooden lids were the must have accessory.

You know this of course because they suddenly start to arrive in pairs. Clutching ceramic artists postcards and pottery suppliers brochures to their bosoms, smart phone at the ready, they stand full square to your stall, hogging the space and blocking further potential viewers. Nothing is said, but there is a secret code of looks and nods, the flicker of an eyebrow passes between them. The ladies of a certain age that 'pot a bit' have you clocked.

"Do you make the wooden lids yourself ?"
" Where do you get the wood?"
"Do you make the lids first?"
"How do you make them fit so well?"
They don't ask if it is possible to take photographs. That has been done already, sneakily on the ever ready smart phone with the flash turned off.
They probe a little further.
"Where are you based?" is a familiar question, whilst they try to fathom out how their next venture into ceramics might take shape that may incorporate wood in some way.
Finally they go, never buy anything of course and without a thank you, wander off in animated discussion.
"Steve's got a wood turning machine" you hear them say and then they are gone.

I've been making pots a long time, but I've been working with wood for even longer. I've learnt some of it's ways. Learnt how to read the pattern and grain beneath the rough sawn surface, to observe the grain direction and which way to attack it. To chose the right piece of wood to complement the colour of the glaze or the naked clay. I've built up a collection of tools and keep my chisels very sharp.

Steve won't need his wood turning machine for sure, but the ladies will need time to hone their skills - time, perseverance and a more enquiring mind than looking for quick ideas for their next Christmas Fair venture.

I'll move on of course and ideas for new ceramic boxes and wooden lids are already forming. There's nothing new in what I do, it's been done before somewhere, but for the moment it's the hottest thing to come out of sleepy Thrussington

So girls, keep both hands firmly behind the chisel edge and good luck.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Living the Good Life

A lady at Potfest Scotland said she envied my lifestyle.
"Doing what I wanted and making beautiful pots".
I suppose the grass is always greener somewhere else, but I have no complaints.

I've tried a lot of things. Working in a pie factory, that wasn't to be envied.
I ran an arts and crafts program at summer camp in the beautiful Laurentian mountains in Canada for a couple of summers. That was pretty special.
But most of my life I designed, project managed and built retail stores. There was a Levi Store, somewhere in most parts of the world that had my fingerprints on it. Some of them in major cities were flagship stores and could be two years in their gestation. That had it's moments although I wouldn't recommend all those hours spent in airports and nights spent in bland and lonely hotel rooms. Making pots was relegated to odd weekends when I managed to be at home.

I used to be a company director, drive a big BMW, wear sharp suits and get invited to dinner parties.
Now I am a potter, drive a van, wear jeans and T shirts. Most times I am regarded with reserve and the invites have all dried up.
Making things with your hands is way down the social scale and I don't miss those dinner parties at all. Paper plates and Marks and Spencer canapés. The men would talk flash cars and salary scales, the women shoes and handbags. Most of the potters that I now know are more worldly than that and can discuss on a variety of topics, have led interesting lives and are not held by the need to buy brands and fashion statements or wear the right label.

Being a potter is more than the idyllic vision of an artisan, sitting throwing pots all day. There are many skills required, some take many years to master and if it comes easy, then your are probably not trying hard enough. There are disappointments and sometimes failures and the beautiful pots are often hard won.

Pull a carrot from the soft earth, wipe off the dirt and bite into it. The taste is light years away from the scrubbed things, sweating in plastic bags from the supermarket. Just taste the difference.

Making handmade pots is as near to the experience of that carrot as I can hope for.
I have no need for that big car or sharp suit. I certainly don't miss those 5 am starts to get to Heathrow to catch a plane to San Francisco. Arrive at 3pm and do a days work after a ten hour flight. The dinner party guests thought that would be pretty cool and envied my lifestyle of international jet setting and glamorous projects.

Give me a bag of clay or a kiln glowing at cone ten any day.

The lady at Potfest was probably right, it is a lifestyle to be envied.

Friday, 17 May 2013

If it don't make a dollar, it don't make sense.

"Is that your best price"?

I still get asked that.

Of course it is, I spend a lot of time and care making even the smallest pots, so there is plenty of time to reflect upon time and value. It is carefully considered and it is the best possible price I can imagine.

"And how do you justify that price"?

I used to answer that question as politely as I could under mostly trying circumstances, usually after standing in the rain all day. Something along the lines of ...

"It reflects the time each piece takes".

But when I sit down and think about all the processes involved in making a pot and all the years to get to this point, it becomes quite scary. Not only is there the time to shape and model the clay, the clay first has to be wedged and prepared before even a gesture is made to form it.
There is the scraping and finishing and the careful drying process. Making a large bottle can be spread over a time span of two days or more.
Don't forget bisque firing, and there's the small matter of the cost of electricity and finally glazing the pots of course. Oh, and there is the day or so to pack the wood kiln.
Collecting, cutting and stacking the wood keeps me fit, so I guess it doesn't count in the cost equation and we will throw in making the glaze, it's apprentices work, except I don't have one.
But firing the wood kiln can take 12 or 13 hours and is exhausting work, so I'll include that in the calculations.
Material costs are not huge, clay is not expensive compared to say wood and some of the other ingredients come free, like wood ash. It's there to be taken, it only needs washing, sieving and drying in the sun. I choose to keep other things simple and use low cost glaze materials. China clay and some feldspar or cornish stone just about covers it.

So whilst we are here discussing money, it can cost quite large sums to get a pitch at a craft or ceramics fair, diesel for my little van to get there with my precious cargo and unless I kip in the van, somewhere to stay the nights. We must not forget the mandatory public liability insurance, just in case a pot jumps up and bites someone. Selling through a gallery is much easier of course, except they take a large cut and I end up waiting for the money, sometimes that can take a long, long time.

If I ran this like a large multinational company, every last item would be costed and tendered, every process evaluated and streamlined, focus groups and market research would tell me what I should be making along with the margin that my little bottle should be making.

Potters are resourceful and most things we do ourselves, like designing and building the website. Taking photographs, advertising, building our displays and exhibitions, our accounts and administration.
Making a margin is not the primary consideration when I take a lump of clay from a bag of cold, wet, sticky earth. It's the idea already forming of what it could be. You tear off a chunk, add a piece on, blend it, beat it or even throw it at the floor. The shape comes from the hand and eye and like good blues, straight from the heart and if it doesn't work out ... squish it and try again.

So getting back to your question sir, that bottle you are holding sounds like a real bargain to me ... ...

But I'm not telling you it's only mud and water!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Industrial Revolution comes to Thrussington.

Making wooden lids by hand, using only basic hand tools has it's pleasures, but can be incredibly time consuming. Wedged between the bicycles and lawnmower in the garage, on a small bench, bits of wood, found, begged and scavenged are fashioned into lids for the coiled boxes that I make. They have become bigger of late and more varied and with them the need to make ever more interesting versions.
Using reclaimed timber, the kind of stuff others discard, involves more cutting, sanding and cleaning than using bought in pristine planks, but often the grain and colour of the reclaimed wood is more interesting and using pieces with knots, splits and bits of bark still attached sparks ideas. It makes each box unique and individual and far different from those made by machine. It has been surprising how much interest these little boxes generate and at times keeping pace with demand has been a challenge.

These latest boxes are over two months in their gestation, forming clay, glazing, firing and carving the lids. I posted pictures of them on my Facebook page to show my friends what I had been up to over the winter months. Only me and Maud had witnessed their progress in the months before, within an hour four hundred had viewed the images of the finished boxes.

Now the arrival of the 900x belt and disc sander has changed all that, more complex lids complete with handles, laminated from two or three different woods are finding themselves fitting snuggly onto the ceramic boxes. In turn this has opened up the opportunity to take even more different and interesting directions. Rectangular and square formats were made previously, as these were easier to make just using a saw and files. It had to be pieces of wood with a more regular grain and some of the harder woods just took way too long to shape using sandpaper and a file. Now it's possible that the wood could dictate the shape of the box. There's a couple of bits of an old oak gate post, complete with tenons and pegs waiting for the ceramic box to be made, and there's an elm burr with lots of potential, that only needs slicing up to become another unique and interesting box lid.

It's fine to be a purist, use only old hand tools and keep craft traditions alive, but sometimes the right bit of kit can take away all the drudgery and painstaking removal of unwanted wood. It opens up new channels of thought and makes possible things previously undreamt of to move on as they say, but even Thrussington is not ready for computer controlled technology just yet.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Firing No. 15

What marked out No. 15 from the others?
Certainly no two firings are ever exactly the same; the variables are always present, weather, wind, the fuel. Be it dry wood or even the type of timber, the way the pots are stacked in the kiln or their location.

It certainly was very cold packing the kiln in the snow and getting the newly bat-washed shelves dry, let alone all the freshly glazed pots was a challenge. It has been six months since the last time this kiln had been fired and the whole was damp and cold having stood all winter - a slow gentle fire was required, just to get the bricks warm and drive out the moisture.

The wind was from the north east, usually the prevailing wind from the west blows directly at the fire box and that can make the fire very lively for the first couple of hours. It was more restrained this time and the temperature climb was slow and steady.
The previous day had seen blizzards and driving snow. Fortunately the snow did not hang around and to order, the skies cleared, the sun shone and the frost melted. Even so it was still very cold and we started with the pyrometer reading -0 degrees. As stoking got underway a wedge of approximately 30 Whooper swans streamed overhead, white against the pale blue sky, whooping their greeting as they went north.

Dry wood burns with a wonderful bright flame and a jolly crackle. There is simple pleasure gently stoking laths of pallet wood in the sharp, bright, morning sunshine with the smell of woodsmoke hanging. Stoking continues without drama, less wood required than normal and as dusk fell, so did the first cones.

This little kiln has behaved much the same each time and holding the temperature around 1260 only required two planks of pallet each stoke, some hardwood from crates used to encase stone slabs, built the ember bed and held the heat. At around thirteen hours with cone 10 over at the bottom, it was time to clam up. A little island of heat in the cold night air.

Treasure within

Sometimes I am asked to share the opening with friends. Making pots and firing is a solitary occupation, but taking down the wicket and revealing the treasures within is best shared.
Andy and Di ooohhed and aaahed as each pot was passed out. It means there is less opportunity for disappointment to set in this way or the 'black dogs' to take hold as the pots are whisked away, each one held up as a new treasure and wonder.
The disappointments come later - when the visitors have gone and the contents of the kiln lie scattered around. Pots imagined in slightly different tones and colours, hoped for glaze runs and ash deposits, sit there in different clothes - like getting to know them all over again.

It takes a few days to renew this acquaintance with the new pots, look at all the colours, how the flame caused the glaze to blush, drip and pause just at the foot.

I have to declare it to be a satisfying event and the four big bottles very nice... the best to emerge from the kiln so far.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Chicken or Egg?

Short, dark, winter days and long, cold starry nights are slowly giving way to the lighter days of the coming spring. There are tentative signs of things waking up at last.

The first Snowdrops have pushed their noses through the frozen ground and the Hellebores have unfolded to reveal their delicate blooms in mauves and dusky reds in all the darkest corners.

Given a rare sunny day the Robins make moves to explore the kiln, an unhealthy interest in the exit flue means that I have to place a wire screen over the wicket.
Don't want a nest in there thank you Robin. Otherwise it will be May or even June before the kiln can be fired.

The Chickens have ventured out more at last. Flo's comb and wattle turned bright red and she has been pecking up enough for two. Now the snow has finally gone, the hens can scrat in the dirt below the Cedar tree, pecking up scraps of peanut, spilt by the garden birds to supplement the layers pellets we give them. But something has gone wrong with Flo's body clock. Her first few eggs were without shells or yolks and a confused chicken has retired to spend the rest of the cold days perched in her favourite tree until spring comes proper.

The collection of pots is growing. It's slow progress, building on warmer days and wrapping the pots against the frost at night. Juggling bits of sacking and plastic sheet to make sure all the work dries slowly and evenly or not at all if further work is required.
Winter allows time to think and play, experiment and coax new directions from the clay. Later in the year there is never enough time to fully explore. There is always the need to fill the kiln to get out pots for shows and exhibitions.

It takes over two months to build a body of work that will fill the kiln. Wedging, coiling, scraping and drying my way through a hundred kilos of clay. Some of the new bottle shapes look promising. There is always something experimental in each firing, it's how progress is made, how forms evolve and develop. Finding a better glaze for a particular shape or tweaking a recipe or trying out the slip gleaned from the brook.
But even so, it's the complete process that I find exciting, even stacking wood has it's part. I'm not just a mud and water man as Cardew noted. Just like Flo's egg, until the pot is glazed and fired it is not a whole. Only then is it time to take stock, evaluate and the whole cycle starts again.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Digging for Gold

After all the recent floods, frosts and snow, part of the bank to the brook that runs through our garden fell away. Devoid of vegetation it's plain to see a narrow seam of red coloured clay.

Not surprising really. We live in an area of glacial deposit, what geologists call ' Thrussington till', a red marly matrix with a suite of carboniferous and triassic erratics, the red brick houses are testament to that and just up the road a little there is an old clay pit. Now a lake, it was the site of a brick works and bricks were made commercially throughout the 1800's. Floor tiles with WWS Thrussington stamped on them sometimes turn up in the garden.
Our house dates back to at least 1790 and is built of beautiful handmade red bricks, probably the local clay on which it stands. The bricks were made in simple wooden moulds, dried in the sun, then fired in clamps. During our stay here we have found bricks with grass and leaf imprints and one with a perfectly formed dogs footprint, which we have saved.

The bricks vary from dark orange through to dark red and some which must have been in the hottest part of the fire have vitrified to a glossy plum colour in parts.

I've dug a bucket full of the red/ochre coloured clay,  made it into slurry and sieved out the debris. It is very pure with very few stones or vegetation and in it's liquid state a sort of ginger colour.

Bisque fired the slip appears a beautiful dark orange. A little like some of the bricks from the house, so we are hopeful that wood fired at cone ten it might be a little more interesting. Experiments are underway and at the end of March when I fire the kiln, all will be revealed.

Watch this space.

Monday, 7 January 2013

What's in a name?

I had an invitation recently to send an application for an International Chawan exhibition. What's surprising about this is, I don't consider myself a maker of Chawans or not that I am aware of. 
I looked up the definition just to find out exactly what a Chawan really is.

chawan (Chinese茶碗; literally "tea bowl") is a bowl used for preparing and drinking tea. There are many types of chawan used in tea ceremonies, and the choice of their use depends upon many considerations. In addition to being used for Chinese tea, it is used for matcha (powdered green tea) in the Japanese tea ceremony.

Thanks Wiki.

That's the simple definition , it gets a lot more complicated the more you delve into it. I'm afraid that not much of it was part of my growing up, so the subtleties are lost on me. Crockery was pretty basic in our house. Some of Gran's old stuff, some picked up along the way with a smattering of Hornsea Pottery, which is now sixties iconic stuff that my Mum was partial to and collected, but never seemed to be able to get enough to make a complete place setting for a family of seven kids.

Making tea bowls seems to be part of most potters repertoire and I have attempted one or two in my time. That started back in the days when I used to fire an Anagama kiln with a wood firing society. You just had to make some to join in the post firing critique to be considered 'in'.

They are fun to make, I start with a pellet of clay which I flatten and add a coil to make a foot-ring, flip it over and  then build up the walls with coils. I make two or three and I hang them over the edge of the shelf at the front of the kiln to get maximum fly ash and heat to make the glazes run. When it all comes together the results can be quite pleasing.

I don't know what my Mum would have thought of them though. 
"Why that's good mind, it's a canny bowl son, but it would not hold much soup".
Dad would have been more direct.
"Needs a handle".

Mostly I make them for my own amusement, but you have to be wary of the self appointed experts and 'Tea masters' that you meet along the way.
Evidently there should be a depression in the bottom to allow the tea sediment to collect. So next time when I have considered this and incorporated this feature the next authority fails to agree.
It should be smooth so that you can whisk the matcha and maybe it should be a bit bigger.
Foot ring is completely wrong and it's too big and heavy.

I sold one at Christmas. The lady that bought it seemed very pleased with the shape, size and design as she intended planting snowdrops in it.

Now that's an idea... an International Snowdrop bowl exhibition.

Sorry it's too early for snowdrops!