I began making teabowls years ago, only a short time after I first got my hands on clay at the Art League studio in Alexandria, Va. It must have been a book of Japanese work, or a Hamada book, or some such thing. Maybe it was Steve Lally, making them next to me in Saturday morning's open studio. But early on I loved making and drinking from teabowls, and buying other people's teabowls.
I spent perhaps an hour one Saturday morning in about 1992 in Mark Shapiro's booth at the Baltimore ACC show, picking up and putting down faceted orange cups before finally buying one. We still have that pot in our cabinet here on Cape Cod. (And I have a better understanding of those few people at craft shows who come in silently and have to touch everything before buying.)
Dan Finnegan, then my teacher, paid me a great compliment one day in the Alexandria classroom when he offered to trade me one of his cups for one of mine. I felt like I'd made some progress that day.
A couple of years later, by this time teaching beginning pottery in an Alexandria city program, I asked a student who was headed to London to go to the Craftsman Potter's shop there and buy me a Phil Rogers teabowl. I loved Phil's teabowls ... still do, in fact. I'd bought one for $25 at a workshop, but had cracked it. She came back with a lovely ash-glazed cup which cost the equivalent of $75.
"Don't tell my wife," I said, as I cleaned out my wallet. Today Phil's teabowls cost considerably more than that up at the Pucker Gallery in Boston. This one, in the top photo, has survived uncracked.
I continue to make teabowls, lately faceting and torquing them to within an inch of their structural lives. I spend a fair amount of time explaining to browsing buyers what those drinking things without handles are. I should just say "cup" and forget "teabowl." But it's an old habit.
Other photos here: one-pound balls of B-Mix clay soon to be the shallow teabowls and simple mugs you see drying in the bottom two images.