Andersen Design - Collectible Ceramics designed and handcrafted in Maine USA since 1952

What Difference A Curve Makes

Large Salad Bowl Form by Weston Neil Andersen: 10 inches diameter copyright Andersen Design 1970
Prototype of Form before lip was adjusted

The Large Salad Bowl with the two tones of blue leaves has been around for a long time. All the while I thought it was a beautiful decoration done on a bowl which had warped in the casting.

Recently. when photographing the bowls
together, I realized I was wrong. The reason I thought the bowl was warped was
because of what appeared to be a mis-shaped curve of the rim. I took it to be
that the bowl had been trimmed when it was too wet and had released and curved
inward. On closer examination, I realized it was not a casting error. The bowl was
cast from a mold with a higher curve to the rim.
lip comparison

Observed side by side
with another bowl it is obvious that there is no warping in the globe of the
bowl. The blue flower bowl, shown from the back side, is the one on the right
in the picture. Both bowls have perfectly formed globes. It is only the curve
of the rim line which is different. This revelation identifies the blue leafed
tree bowl as an original prototype which was cast and found unsatisfactory and
so the form design was reworked, reshaping the curve of the cut-out lip.

The correct curve of the lip

This makes the bowl a very rare one of a kind casting of a prototype in the works. The bowl has some additional defects in an indented mold line, which is visible in the photo below and some small irregularities in the glaze application. While the curve of the lip is not right for the form of the bowl, this is only evident when looking down on it, Viewed from the front at a common placement, the curve of the lip is attractive and adds more room for the decorative tree, painted by Brenda, to grow. In the photo at the top of the page the form of the blue leaf bowl is not noticeably different from the other two and the tree is vibrant and vivacious.

The Working prototype is signed with capitalized letters spelling ANDERSEN, written in sgrafitto 

The bowl to the left is a vintage large salad bowl, ten inches in
diameter The bowl
is decorated with artistry characteristic of Brenda’s work.

The execution of the form was problematic.
The bowl was cast too thick and should have been tossed back into the slip tank
to be reprocessed, but sometimes, in a moment of weakness, the slip-caster
can’t bring themselves to do that and instead tries to fix it by thinning the
curved lip of the bowl, causing a visible ridge along the rim as the thinned
lip meets the heavy cast of the body. The bowl cracked during firing but the
crack does not go all the way through the bowl and it holds liquid.

The decoration of the bowl is perfectly
executed in the first instant without any re-dos or touch ups giving the hand
execution of the pattern an elegant and natural beauty expressing the inner
confidence of the artist. The leaves have a crisp outline which requires a
perfectly balanced white glaze and a perfectly adjusted decorating color. The
former is done by the glaze maker and the latter is in the hands of the
decorator, who must pay attention daily to the balance of the decorating
colors. A talented decorator will develop an intuitive awareness through
practice, but it is always about the relationship between the glaze and the
decorating color.

All this goes as an example to slip-casters as to why the cast which is too think should be thrown out, to give a fair chance that a masterful decorative execution will be matched with a perfectly cast form. The whole is in the teamwork.

This bowl is signed on the bottom with a scripted AD, indicating that it was probably a production work rather than a prototype. This is not certain as I am not certain that the distinction between the signing of a prototype versus the signing of a production work was paid a lot of attention, but it should be in the future.

The bowl is shown in the picture below with another bowl, also decorated by Brenda. The second bowl is a better cast. The decoration is charming with exuberance, despite the leaves not being as crisp as the leaves are in this bowl. 

The bowl on the right is cast to a perfect thinness. There is room for it to go even thinner but it is fine at this thickness and adds strength against breakage without making the bowl heavy in weight.

This bowl is decorated by Brenda. It is signed on the bottom in an unusual way. with the name ANDERSEN DESIGN written out in capital letters. This suggests that it might have been created during the prototype process, but that is not certain.

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