«FOCUS ON BOWLS», Geoff Crispin

by Geoff Crispin

  • Exhibition: «Focus on Bowls»
  • On View: 1 – 31 June, 2022. In Gallery and Online
  • Location: Makers Gallery. 53 Jackson St. Clayfield QLD 4011. Australia
  • www.makersgalleryaustralia.com

I have been wood firing for over 50 years utilizing locally occurring raw materials whenever possible. Over the years I have built and fired progressively larger Bourry firebox style kilns. Starting out with a small single chamber kiln and progressing through a series of kilns with two chambers getting bigger and bigger. The last one was about 160 cubic feet in the two chambers.

This progress changed with the ageing process which has tempered the highly physical activity of producing my ceramics and I have now built a much smaller kiln so I can continue to work. I still make my own clay bodies and glazes from a mix of locally occurring materials and commercially available materials.

The focus in this show at the Makers Gallery in Brisbane Australia, is on bowls along with several other pieces. Some have been fired in the new kiln and some fired in the last firings of the much bigger old kiln.

I feel that wood fired bowls made from mostly locally occurring raw materials have a special appeal, (especially after the over 50 years of making), with the look, the feel and the essential uniqueness that is the result of the not quite complete control of the process.

Despite firing this style of kiln for many years there is still no guarantee of the results that will be produced. Despite packing pots in places in the kiln to try to achieve the desired outcomes conditions vary, windy, wet, cold and hot. These all can affect the outcome along with the state of mind of the kiln firers.

The kiln is fired to cone 11-12 at the top and cone 10 in the middle. This means that the glaze and the body have a joined together. The glaze draws from the body its components and this affects the final colour and feel. I use wood ash from poplar trees on my pots and the various components of the vitreous porcelain body develop an almost celadon glaze and sometimes it turns into a chun effect. The same ash on the stoneware body creates a darker green celadon similar to the pots produced in the Han dynasty in China so long ago around 200BC-200AD. The glazes are often quite mobile at this temperature and I seek this kinetic sense of movement caused by the firing and frozen in time. The glaze is not just a covering but part of a physical unity. This I feel adds to the sense and feel of the pots.

Geoff with the newly completed single chamber Bourry firebox kiln. (Geoff Crispin photo)

We use bowls in many aspects of our lives and especially with preparing and eating our food. With eating you are interacting with your bowl. If you pick it up to access the food you feel the weight, the balance and how it feels in a tactile sense. Different foods may require different forms, from the classical Asian deep sided bowl to the open flatter forms that my well suit other styles of food in different cultures.

Aesthetics also plays a part in how your food is presented. In many situations the interplay between the food and the bowl/plate is an essential part of partaking of the eating event whether individually or as part of a group.

The copper red glaze is fired on open shelves in the kiln and is subject to the same vageries of the wood firing as all the other pots and it shows in the variations on the glaze surface which has been applied in varying thicknesses.


MAKERS GALLERY is the realisation of Stephanie Outridge Field’s long held dream of having a dedicated display space for ceramic in all genres. The gallery opened on the 12th of December 2015 with an exhibition simply called “Friends”. For more information, please contact at +61 (0)417 886 185 or info@makersgalleryaustralia.com.

Text and photos from the organization

Woodfiring.net thanks to Geoff Crispin for their collaboration in the preparation of this article.

Text and photos: @Geoff Crispin – Total or partial reproduction by any medium is prohibited unless expressly authorised in writing. 

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