The Citrus Juicer… a little utilitarian object where form follows function.
I had a little citrus juicer contest in my pottery studio… just me, the porcelain, and the ideas in my head generated from a “Pottery for Foodies” workshop I gave this summer at Snow Farm. Students wanted to know if I could teach them how to make a citrus juicer with a spout. I also had customers asking me if I would do a citrus juicer that had a storage container under the juicer part. So began a month long exploration of citrus juicer forms which took place in-between my daily schedule of making and glazing pots.
All citrus juicers take a bit of time to make, including the standard one in my shop. My partner Terri asks me why I make them if they take so much time. My answer is that I love the challenge of making a complex, beautiful form function properly. The issue that I have with the citrus juicer is not the time it takes, but the price I can get for the time it takes. This is one of those pieces that the customer has no clue as to what goes into making it, and why it should be priced even higher than it is.
My biggest take away from this exploration of new citrus juicer forms was about how form truly does follow function. As a functional potter this is of utmost importance to me. I often see “ceramic art” that is beautiful in color, glaze and form, but then I try to use it and it doesn’t work. A teapot that doesn’t pour, a citrus juicer that doesn’t juice, a glaze that isn’t food safe, a mug that tips to the other side because a handle is placed incorrectly… you get the idea. In making four different kinds of citrus juicers I learned a lot about function and the many ways this little utilitarian object can function improperly!
Below are some photos of the first go around of the citrus juicers that I made, and a little explanation of what works, what doesn’t work, and how I would change it.
The first one pictured is my favorite form, it feels most like a “Lucy pot” as my students say. I like the up-lifted body of the bowl. I like the spout, the handle, the juicer part that is carved with swirly grooves rather than straight grooves. The only problem with this is that it does not function well when it pours. The liquid goes over the rim just a tiny bit. It is something that I can easily fix if I just raised the front part of the wall a bit.
The second one is a great storage jar for the liquid. It juices nicely, pours well, the only problem I am having with this is in the firing. Usually lidded pots are left unglazed around the rim and fired with the lid on. With this pot the top and bottom are fired separately because I want the rim glazed so it can stand alone as a piece. Because the lid is fired separately the two pieces are warping differently which is making the fit not so perfect. I like this one a lot, so I will work out the details… maybe make the rim thicker.
The third one is a more traditional ceramic citrus juicer. I am liking the pattern which is made from some stamps that I carved. It is well balanced, pours well, but I would probably raise the front wall near the spout a bit as the liquid comes close to going over the rim. At this point I am not too excited about the form, it’s a little to squat for my taste. If I am going to be making an open-form citrus juicer, I am more partial to the first one pictured.
The fourth one was in response to the complexity of the former three. This hand held citrus juicer is so simple, and a lot easier to make than the others. The only issue I see with this one is that the seeds cannot be separated from the juice. I am loving the way the glaze pools in the deep grooves. I also see this one as a great conversation piece!
I have to honestly say that my standard citrus juicer which I have been making for years still makes the most sense to me. It sits on top of a two cup pyrex measuring cup and when not in use hangs on a hook in the kitchen and becomes functional wall art and a conversation piece.