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Lindquist Studios




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  Meditating Bowl 1998 #1, Briar Burl, 5" H x 9" D

In Meditating Bowl I am interested in exploring the qualities of  the tea bowl .  The tea bowl reflects nature, and becomes a vehicle for meditation.  I have done four or more Meditating Bowls over a thirty year period, each having similar sensibilities as vessels. 

Always, choosing the wood is important, but ironically, the wood has chosen me in this series.  The first Meditating Bowl I made was in 1972 from a birch root burl given to me by a quiet, unassuming individual living in the woods in the hills of New Hampshire.  That root burl had interesting features as does the briar burl used to make this one.  Root burls are strikingly odd, particularly briar, (Erica Arborea), which comes from the Mediterranean area.  Normally the briar burl is from a shrubby plant called "heath" and is mostly used for pipes since it has all the qualities that make for good, fire-resistant bowls.

Pipe makers look for briar with no imperfections,  and use the interior of the burl for their craft.  Imperfections are an important aspect of the tea bowl and also in this particular  Meditating Bowl.   I look to the natural edge or exterior edge of the burl, attempting to save all imperfections which become incorporated into the design.  In this case I carefully removed much of the outer bark then pressure washed the burl to expose the beautiful dormant buds  of the outer surface.  Often surprising imperfections become apparent that would normally be discarded by the turner.  When the burl was harvested it would have been cut  using a variety of tools, including a saw, an axe and possibly some kind of mattock to pry it out of the ground.
The first cut in this act of removing the burl marred the perfection of nature. But it also evidenced the history of human involvement with the wood.  I look for these first cut-marks and carefully guard them as they chronicle this history.  Most woodworkers would be shocked at this approach, but these areas of imperfection are fascinating to me.  The potter I studied with when I was a young apprentice and a Zen initiate taught me that the marks left by the hand during the making were part of the process and were never accidental.  It is important to my process, now, to view these marks as critical to the process of making and seeing.  These things become elements to be discovered during the acts of looking, of thinking, of meditating.  Sometimes they come as surprises, sometimes as revelations, but rarely as the nuisance they appear, at first to be...

The interior of Meditating Bowl is special for me as well since it quietly asserts an inward view of the "outward".  By this I mean that the interior could be a view of the bottom of a footed vessel.  Often this is the kind of treatment found on  the bottoms of ceramic bowls, a kind of tooling that is purposely left, not for effect necessarily, but as a mater of course.  The interior excavating of Meditating Bowl was done on my pattern maker's lathe using a special technique I invented that utilizes the chainsaw as the turning tool.  I'm able to shape and texture the piece simultaneously with the process.  The texture results from the process and can be "fooled with" or simply left like the tooling on the bottom of a pot.  The inward/outward, push/pull the interior has, is the result of careful tooling and incising with the tip of the saw blade.