I love to make items that nest inside each other. Nested pieces are a visual surprise and delightful to me, and I think most people agree. The first thing I ever made that nested were the lotus bowls, about 14 years ago. I was obsessed with the lotus flower at that time, and I was trying to figure out a way to emulate its shape in clay. At that time I was just starting to carve edges of bowls to make flower bowls, and I was very pleased with the concept of carving away to make new shapes. I tried to make a bowl with carved and layered petals on the inside, but the results were not pleasing. All of the sudden I realized I should make the bowls separately to get the layered effect I wanted, and I had my first set of nesting bowls. They were a set of four. I wish I knew where they are now, I probably sold them for $50.
I've made dozens of different kinds of nesting bowls and plates since then. My most recent thing was a set of nesting ranunculus bowls. Most people don't know what a ranunculus is, so I may need to change the name to "rose nesting bowls" so I can stop explaining to people what they are. Ranunculus are very rosy in a way, though a lot more interesting to my eye.
The bowls were inspired after a visit to Neicy Frey's painting studio in Spokane, Washington. Neicy paints big beautiful canvases of brightly colored and delicately rendered flowers, including the ranunculus. Did I mention that the ranunculus is one of my favorite flowers? When I got back to my own studio it hit me to make some ranunculus bowls that nest. It was so obvious, I couldn't believe I had not thought of it before.
The ranunculus bowls turned out to be one of the more difficult things I've made in a while. Making bowls nest is easy when the rims are open-- all you have to do is measure the height and width. But to make these bowls really work, I had to make them curve in, so I had to measure height and width on the inside and outside. It was very slow going. I made several sets of three and five, a set of seven and a set of eight. The set of eight is a little big and scary, and at this moment I still have no idea what color to glaze them.
I made sets on two different occasions to test out the measuring formula, and strangely enough the first round I made fit better than the second round. This confirms my theory yet again that the best work is always done when one is freshly inspired and not yet weighed down too much with the possibilities of what can go wrong or trying to avoid a problem that one had the last time.
These bowls are on sale here and here. And I will have all of them at the Palo Alto Clay and Glass Festival next weekend if you want to stop by and check them out!