Some pieces that have been subtracted – first from a bowl and then from each other. (Plus the spout for Teapot II)

The other week I was talking to not one, but two woodcarvers. I mentioned that it was hard for me to think subtractively like they need to do in their carving. I look at a block of wood (or clay or plaster or wax) and it’s hard for me to see what needs taken away for a form to take shape.

Then I was in the studio working on Teapot II and I realized that I DO think subtractively… kind of. Most of my work is hollow or fold formed and then has pieces additively fabricated onto it. But there are also the pieces that get cut away. That’s subtractive!

Working on this teapot (and many of my recent bowls) I’ve had to think about what shapes to build up and what shapes to cut out of them (to then add new shapes onto.) So I add, then subtract, then add again. Eventually it all equals a finished piece (did you see what I did there?)

How do you go about doing things? Do you add new elements together, subtract pieces out, or some combination of the two?