My Ode to Water

Most of us have a favorite comfort drink. My husband loves to start his day with a cup of chai, my mom craves her coffee at breakfast, my kids love to end their day with ginger- honey-lemon tea. But for me, the uncontested winner in the world of consumable fluids is: WATER!!!

Never having developed a taste for hot beverages, sodas or juice, I have always opted for water as a beverage of choice. But in the past, it was merely a thirst quencher. It wasn’t until I became a potter, that water got elevated to the status of a comfort drink. How do the two connect? Well it was quite simple. When I began making cups, I wanted to use them constantly. So, I drank water ever so often, just to be able to caress the cup in my hands and enjoy the feel of the rim on my lips. Invariably, water (in a handmade cup) became my ultimate comfort drink.

Drinking out of a cup made by Jeff Oestreich

I love to collect hand made cups and I have a growing collection of cups made by artists from all over the US.

Cups from over 60 different artists.

Each day I spend a few minutes in front of my cup cabinet, choosing my water companion for the day. Sipping water from this cup is like having a conversation with the artist and believe me, water tastes ever so sweet, when one drinks it out of a hand made cup.

A couple of years ago, on a long drive to Mississippi, to visit my brother and his family, the sight of our plastic water bottles, planted in the cup holder, barely touched throughout the 12 hour journey, made me realize that it was time to make myself a clay bottle.

I hadn’t ever seen a clay water bottle. So, I did what I always do when I have a question…I Googled it…but I was surprised to realize that Google did not have a solution for me!!! I had to travel this road on my own. I knew I needed a bottle form that would fit into the cup holder, would have a secure lid and would be easy to use. So, with just a sketchy idea in my head, I began experimenting.

My initial idea was quite grand. I thought, I would make a bottle with a double wall, so that the water would remain insulated. But since it had to fit in a cup holder, that restricted the base width and the result was a heavy piece, which could hold less than a cup of water. So the double walled idea was rejected!

I decided to replicate a regular water bottle form and secure the cap with a cork, simple enough right?

Water bottle with a cork lid.

But this style had two problems: firstly, one could not add ice cubes because of the small opening. Secondly, it was not user friendly from the driver’s point of view, as it required the use of two hands. So the lesson learnt was: I needed a bigger opening and a drinking spout of some kind.

This led to the next generation of  water bottles. These bottles had a wide opening on the top, which was secured with a rubber stopper. There was a small spout to facilitate drinking. I was delighted with the result. I could carry ice water and drink one handed. But my joy was short lived. On our first test drive, I realized that on every sharp turn, if  I did not hold on to the bottle, the water would go flying out of the spout! Not acceptable.

Water bottles with wide lid and a drinking spout.

The spouts needed to be plugged, when not in use. So the next set of bottles had  a cork on a string added to the design.

Water bottles with a cork to plug the spout when not in use.

Once that was in place, I decided that this bottle was as good as it could get. Granted, it was a little awkward to use because one had to tip it at an extreme angle to drink out of it but that seemed like a minor inconvenience for what one got…the joy of drinking out of a handmade clay bottle!!! So with this satisfied mindset, I gave it to a friend (a pottery lover) to try it out and give me a feedback. Not being so attached to the concept as me, she frankly told me that it was awkward to use and encouraged me to go on working on the design with the idea of adding a straw so as to eliminate the need for tipping it.

So, it was back to the drawing board because in my heart I believed that she was right. I started researching the different kinds of straws available and how I could integrate it with my design. I ordered few different types and played around with design and functionality. CamelBak Biter Straws did the trick and this is what I came up with…

Camelbak biter straw incorporated with the lid.
Rubber stopper glued on to the lid bottom with ‘J B Weld’ to get a good seal.
Water bottle ready…
Custom ordered bottles for my most important customers, my kids!!!
And they appreciate it too!!!


We are finally ready for a long drive!!!!!

2 thoughts on “My Ode to Water

  1. Dear Shikha, you have explained very systematically about firing in cone 6 and how difficult it was. I love your work and the different colors techniques you use. I would like to join you class on April22nd. I will register soon. All the best to you . Jyotsna Rao.

    1. Thank you Jyotsna Auntie for your kind comment. It would be lovely to have you at the carving workshop and guess what, I have one last spot left, so I will hold it for you. Please email me when you get a chance and I will send you the details.

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