What makes a perfect bowl? I’ll use the bowl as my example but the following will apply to anything we may turn.

When you see a bowl and you instinctively know it’s “right” and it just appeals to you do you ever ask yourself why is that so? It may not be made of the most strikingly figured piece of wood. . It may not even display the best elements of craftmanship you have ever seen, it may not be decorated or adorned by piercing or pyrography. But it just looks “right”. You look at it and it inspires you because you know you too can do this without any special tools, no outstanding artistic talents, no expensive exotic wood. Just time and patience.

Special pieces are about good design. 

There are a few rules regarding design and one of these is the one much used in artistic and photographic circles, the Rule of Thirds. Items simply made to the ratios 1:2 or 2:3. For example the base of a well proportioned bowl may be 1/3rd the width of it’s height. Pieces should also flow. Take a goblet for example. How many do you see which look like a bowl on a stick with no relation between the base, the stem and the bowl sections? These, in my opinion at least, look better when the components flow into each other. You shouldn’t be afraid of picking a piece up for fear it may break. Little things such as curving the bottom of a bowl to make it appear to float can be very effective. Making you want to pick the piece up and not to move swiftly on to something else. 

At the end of the day it all comes down to personal choice. There are a few rules which can help us turn pieces which are above the ordinary, a little special. The best way to learn is to look around us, see some of the classical pottery and sculpture for inspiration. These shapes have endured over millennia and will continue to please our senses of touch and sight. 

I hope this will prove useful but before I finish I would like to add one more rule:

Rules are made to be broken.

Good luck and keep making shavings.