Monday, April 16, 2012


...This is my favorite of the bunch. It has been donated to the Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts for sale at the Watershed 25th Anniversary auction, July 14th, 2012.
....Sooooo, it's been a long time since this much- neglected page got updated and I figured, hey, why not post some teapots from the most recent kiln firing?....

With less than 3 weeks left in the spring semester, I look forward to getting back into the studio with limited interruption.  Of course, this also means limited income, but, with any luck, a pending commission will ease the pain of living (and staying cool) during (yet another) a southern Louisiana summer.
Teapots are always a challenge.  These days I feel like I'm a seasonal potter, that is, I work in a series, over the course of several months, on variations of of theme.  They say that, in Louisiana, there are 3 seasons: Crawfish season, Festival season, and Hurricane season.  For me, March 2012 marked the beginnings of Teapot Season, which should continue for a few more weeks into May before the heat conspires to return my tin roofed attic studio back to an official Level of Hell....which, come to think of it, is probably much closer to its natural state, anyway.  This means that, despite the 97% relative humidity at any given second, pieces dry out remarkably fast.  And, more often than not, the sheer physical and mental motivation required to be there for any more time than you absolutely need to is, shall we say, less than conducive to the nurturing and care required to make a good teapot.

A truly good teapot can be elusive, therefore making it a challenge worthy of much time, effort, and hollered profanities.  (*shakes fist at roof*).  First and foremost, many of the most beautiful, interesting, and challenging teapots tend to exist primarily as sculptural objects that just happen to also pour tea...often not very well.  Before you object, let me say that I'm not pointing fingers here nor claiming any moral high ground.   I've made (and continue to make) some teapots that require the user to really have to want to use them to make tea.  Sure, they'll function, but there is a difference between function and utility.
On the other hand, many of the most functional, utilitarian teapots can be, well....kinda boring.  I know it may come across as potter heresy or art school snobbery, but it's often true.  Take, for example, the classic 1970's stoneware teapot. I'm not going to post a picture of one because I believe, if you close your eyes, you can picture something along the lines of this: A squat, round wheel thrown pot (complete with throwing rings)...with a spout that's a bit too large (sort of looks like it would be more appropriate for a goblet stem)..a flat, mushroom shaped finial on the lid...with a pulled handle or, *gasp*, a bent reed bale handle.....glazed in a stony white, or pale blue, or yellow, ..with iron spots.  Now picture this in black and white, like an old Ceramics Monthly photo.  Yup, know what I'm talking about.
...spouts too small, without enough angle.

The thing is, those pots tend to be pretty darn good teapots.  They hold enough for several cups of tea, they pour well and (hopefully) won't drip, and their lids fit.  All in all, they deliver.

Therein lies the challenge of crafting the teapot.  The architecture of the teapot is fairly complex: handles must balance with spout and body, spout must integrate with body, body must have the proper proportions, lid must fit, finial or knob must compliment the form.  In other words, it has to look good. Or, at the very least, provoke some thought and interest.  Oh, and then the thing actually has to work!.....and that's a lot to ask of a little pot.

..this spout may be a bit long for my taste.  'could use more curve.
           Add to all this the precedent, both contemporary and historical, of the sculptural teapot and you've got a whole other conversation on your hands.  

Fortunately, there are lots of contemporary potters in the world who manage to achieve this balance.  Mark Shapiro and Linda Sikora, are the first two that come to mind, along with Lorna Meaden, Allegheny Meadows, Tara Wilson, Sarah Jaeger. And, one of my personal all time favorite potters, Mary Louise Carter.  There are many, many others.....I should have included pictures, but a quick Google search of any of those folks should put you on the right track.  Happy potting!