I had a short blurb about my fancy new pottery ribs in a recent post. They were created by a fantastic craftsman and potter named Troy Bungart.
My mom was actually going to buy me one or two as a Christmas gift but she wasn’t sure what kind of rib would be best. So she gave me some money which I put with some other Christmas cash and emailed Troy during Christmas Break. He stopped at my house on his way home from work one day and brought a bucket o’ ribs.
Talking with Troy
He came down to my clay studio and checked out my setup. Then we spread out all the ribs on the table. It was glorious. I spent the next 30-60 minutes inspecting just about every one of them and asking him questions about the wood, how he would use each one and which ribs he used most.
We also talked about making and selling pots, plans for 2014 and education. He said that he likes to plan out the year and decide what he’s going to make so he doesn’t waste any time in his workshop. He said for the coming year he might “throw a bunch of stuff out there and see what sticks.” His clay workshop isn’t heated so he takes some time off from pottery and does more wood working when it gets cold. It made me realize how lucky I am to have a heated space with running water!
He explained how he uses each kind of rib. For his bowls he likes to have a nice, gradual, smooth curve on the inside and explained how to use certain ribs to achieve that. Now that I’ve had some practice with the new ribs I’ve started to get a little bit better curve to my bowls. I know some potters make their bowls a little “wonky” but others are adamant that the inside should be completely smooth for functional purposes. I still haven’t decided which camp I’m in.
It was great to talk to him and show him some of my stuff. He had a lot of good advice.
I finally picked out five ribs and then Troy gave me an extra one as a gift! It was tough to pick but I’m happy with all of them. He even wrote down the kind of wood that each one was made from.
The small reddish, triangle rib is Cocobolo. The platter rib is Padauk. The smaller kidney is Yellowheart/Satin Wood.
The small triangle, large kidney and trim knife are Bocote.
Pottery Ribs in Action
I use the knife all the time. It is perfect for undercutting pots before sliding the cutoff wire underneath. I’ve also used the small triangular ribs quite a bit since I’ve been making a lot of cups lately. I’ve only made one plate and one platter since I bought the ribs so the large red platter rib hasn’t been used as much. I’ve used the yellow kidney rib to make some small bowls and the large kidney rib to make a couple larger bowls. I’ve really been working on getting a nice smooth line on the inside. If I can master that then I can always add some finger swirls or whatever else.
Here are a few bowls made with the yellow kidney rib via my Instagram feed (@artbyfuzzy):
When I finally get one that I really like I’ll have to send him a gift.
The Man, The Myth, The Legend
I met Troy when he was one of the presenters at a pottery workshop in Goshen, IN. One of the gifts was a handmade brush by Troy. I haven’t actually used it on any pots yet but it is fantastic as well. I just don’t add a lot of brushwork to my pottery… yet.
This may seem like an advertisement for Troy but if you haven’t had the pleasure to use one of Troy’s handcrafted pottery ribs or brushes, do yourself and your pots a favor and get one. Or a handful!