When appreciating a ceramic object, most people will assess the form of the object, whether it is a functional clay pot or a sculptural ceramic piece. Form is one of the main characteristic of a ceramic object and can influence how we notice other characteristics like the glaze, the balance or the weight of the object.
For example, a teapot in the form of a cylinder maybe better suited for its function than a pyramid shaped teapot. Also, a white cube maybe be perceived to be lighter than a white rectangle. It is important for ceramic artists to understand form and how to use it well.
The basic question is what is the difference between form and shape? Shape is a 2 dimensional enclosed area that is defined by height and width. Form is a 3 dimensional enclosed area that is also described by depth in addition to height and width. Form can tell you the shape of something. However, but its not always true that the shape can give you the form of something, unless you can draw both the positive and negative shapes to tell the form.
There are two types of forms, geometric and freeform. Geometric forms are made from precise shapes that can be drawn using mathematical formulas. Differently, organic shapes, that are irregular and uneven make up freeforms. The freeforms may have a combination of curved and angular outlined shapes.
There are 3 basic geometric shapes and 5 basic forms. The shape of a circle and the form of the sphere. The shape of the square makes the cube and pyramid form. The forms of cone and cylinder come from the basic shape of the triangle.
An artist can decide to work with geometric forms in three easy ways:
First, a ceramic artist may decide to adopt one form to be their focus on a project. The artist may explore the different ways this one form can be interpreted in different vessels. For example, an artist choosing the form of a cube to make planter pots, mugs, plates and sculpture.
Another way to work with form is to explore the same object in many forms. Taking one vessel or object and explore it in different forms is very creative and imaginative use of form. A good example of this is a candle holder. Making cubic, conical, cylindrical or pyramid forms of candle holders can assist an artist renew interest in their product and retain their seasonal clients.
Using a combination of 2 or more forms is a good way to develop a unique object, both for functional or decorative projects. One way to work on combination of forms is to choose a dominant form to represent the ceramic piece and then combine different forms for adding details and features to the object. This way an artist can create a unique style that can become distinctly familiar to their portfolio of ceramic art.
The benefit of working with form is that an artist can focus their idea and sketches towards possible and realistic outcomes. Planning your work around making forms is an easier and faster way to work and make progress at the studio. Even for artist that sketch a freeform will find it easier to being their work with constructing geometric forms that can later be altered without compromising balance and structure.