three legs good

ceramic three legged bowl

belatrova’s Manhattan three legged bowl

An early morning run or walk can be a way to set oneself up for the day – you are out there with the dawn chorus, a hint of Spring in the air, plans assembling themselves in your mind for the day ahead, perhaps a squirrel just out of hibernation crosses your path, you breathe in the clean air of a new day, and then, an unfamiliar experience, the earth beneath your feet is right in front of your face, greeting you painfully on the nose. You have fallen over. Looking around to make sure nobody has witnessed your collapse, you pick yourself up and limp home with whatever dignity you can muster.

cartoon of legs slipping


Human walking is a unique activity during which the body, step by step, teeters on the edge of catastrophe.” —paleoanthropologist John Napier

Just how do we two-legged creatures manage to stay upright while in motion, or even when standing still? How can we possibly keep our balance on those flippers we call feet? Come to think of it, we are rather top heavy too, so why are we not keeling over all the time? Apparently it is all to do with voluntary and reflexive, neural, muscular, and skeletal systems collectively coordinating so as to allow us to walk without a second thought. But we shall not go into that; we simply bring it up because it leads us to an important belatrovian issue that we propose to resolve here and now.


quadrupedal thing

Within the tightly knit belatrova team, harmony always prevails. No matter what the weather outside, or the music being played, or the occasional badly made cup of coffee, we all beaver away happily and get along. Tea breaks are relaxing opportunities for discussions on topics that range from underwater basket weaving to why on earth men have nipples, from the benefits of taxation in a functioning society to the lingering suspicion that chocolate may actually not be bad for one. Important subjects for debate, we agree.

However, there is one issue that consistently divides the team into two camps: the tripedalists and the quadrupedalists. Dear belatrovians, are three legs better than four? With the spirit of conflict resolution guiding us towards a hoped-for conclusion, research was undertaken and the results are the following:

Try this at home. With your hand slightly cupped, point your thumb, index finger, and middle finger upwards and then place a flat piece of card or paper on top of them. The card will lie on all three points. Now stick a fourth finger into this experiment (perhaps somebody else’s) to add another contact point. It is now a little harder to exactly fit the paper on the plane.

Conclusion – the triangle formed by the three fingertips is stable because no matter where any of the three points of the triangle lie, they will always define a plane. So, a three-legged stool is guaranteed not to wobble, because the ends of its legs always form a plane. Thus a camera tripod; no matter which height each leg is, you will get no wobble. Even on an uneven floor.

It’s much more challenging to make a four legged table whose fourth point of contact is in the same plane as the first three points. Any point that is added to that plane will make it harder for the plane to be stable. On some uneven floors it may be quite impossible for a four legged table to be stable if it gets moved about. Five or six legs would be even worse.


a perfectly balanced four legged table by belatrova

Quadrupedalistas, graciously accepting this explanation (despite some sarcastic mutterings about making three legged tables, birdbaths and lamps), have come around to the wisdom and logic of belatrova’s decision to make three legged bowls. Place one on any surface and your olives, peanuts or cheese puffs will not roll off due to wobble. What is more, the bowls carry a certain elegance that is a touch retro – 1950s perhaps?

ceramic three legged bowl

three legged bowl

And talking of retro, MoseyHome are a new London outlet, and they are showing belatrova’s three legged bowls. Pay them a visit if you are in the area. You can also visit our “three legged” Pinterest board.

three legged bowl

stability on legs

As for our monopods, our beautiful birdbaths, lamps and slab pots, they will be appearing in the next few months in Country Living and Garden Illustrated.

With only a month to go, we would like to remind you that we are opening the workshop to the public on the weekend of 25th and 26th April. You are most welcome to visit, and try your hand at making a tripedal bowl. We’ll be there with five other makers for this Open Spring Weekend:

Spring Open Sudios

Spring Open Studios




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