Brand New Matcha Bowls: Bird & Blend x Potters Thumb
We are incredibly excited to finally be able to show you are lovingly hand-crafted matcha bowls! Krisi has been developing the design over the last few months discussing all things shape, groove, sip & glaze with the very talented Mark from Potters Thumb.
Mark has a simple but beautiful studio come workshop in the center of Brighton, just down the road from our Brighton store, where he makes his unique pieces by hand, and also runs workshops and classes too. He is also working on some really exciting new projects to try and turn waste materials, like glass, into something to use or sell. We really recommend you check him out!
Anyway … our matcha bowls! With some help from our new product development group we finally settled on our final part matt, part glazed design with a gorgeous blue glaze on the top outer of the bowl and a speckled white on the inside - so you can really see the green of your matcha powder when whisking!
We asked Krisi what she most loved about the bowls and she said:
‘I’m going to struggle to narrow it down to one thing so I am going to say three! Firstly I love the fact they are totally hand crafted with time, love and care… it takes Mark nearly a month to make them from start to finish and that is so unusual for us in today’s fast paced world… and I think it suits the tradition and love in which matcha is prepared too. Secondly, I love the grooves that Mark deliberately leaves in the bowl, he says to show it’s journey on the wheel but I really love the feel when I’m holding the bowl. Lastly, I absolutely love the bird stamp… seeing our iconic bird etched into the new bowls makes them totally unique!’
Krisi & George went to see how the bowls are made...
We have been lucky enough to be with Mark every step of the way, learning exactly how he makes our bowls, so if you’re interested here is some insight into the world of ‘potting’!
1. Firstly, Mark uses 300g of clay, which his workshop partner Katie will have already carefully moulded to get as much of the air out as possible (because if left in, when drying the air bubbles will cause cracks & deformities).Krisi said this was a bit like needing dough, but for the opposite intention!
2. He uses the wheel to form the shape of the bowl, all by hand - which is a mesmerizing process. He uses his ‘measuring stick’ < Mark’s technical term! To make sure the height and width are uniform each time but apart from that he does it by feel & sight … a true skill!
3. Once the bowl shapes are formed he leaves them to dry naturally, which can be anything from one afternoon to 4 days, depending on the temperature & humidity in his workshop. We asked Mark if he could speed up this process by heat assisting the drying but he said it has to be natural otherwise the clay will crack… a bit like a muddy riverbed in a heatwave.
4. Once they are dry to touch he will then put them back on the turning wheel to ‘trim’ the bowls. Here is where the iconic grooves are made and again this is all done by hand and sight. Any of the off cuts of clay are recycled to be used again.
5. At this point Mark will take the little lazer cut disk with our bird logo and press it into the side of the bowl to make a beautiful imprint.
6. Next is another drying stage, approximately two days, until the bowls are totally bone dry.
7. Now comes the first firing stage, at just below 1000 degrees for between 9 - 12 hours where the heat causes chemical changes in the clay, it is ‘vitrified’… which means, after this stage the clay can no longer be remoulded or returned to its natural state.
8. Once cool Mark can now add any glaze that he wants to the pot, in our case the beautiful blue and the cool white. After each glaze he will need to fire again.
9. The final firing is at a higher temperature - 1130 degrees, again for about 9 hours. And the kiln must be left to come down in temperature naturally before removing the finished pots.