December 7, 2013

Theoretical Teapots

My husband and I love tea. We love hand made art teapots almost as much. Over the years we collected teapots from various ceramic artists. But because we are both inclined towards clumsiness we never use them. Instead our morning ritual tea is steeped in an old hand made teapot I made in during my college years. Oddly enough, despite our clumsiness it never breaks. One day recently my husband decided that the old teapot should be retired because it doesn’t hold quite enough for more than two people should we have a guest, and because it doesn’t exactly pour efficiently. And it is rather ugly. So a decision was made to commission a new teapot from a local artist despite the fact that we have a fine collection of serviceable ones from years of acquiring them. I first tried to convince my husband to put one of our myriad teapots into service but he was skeptical. “But they are art pots,” my husband protested. I convinced him to try a Shawn Ireland stoneware teapot anyway. It surely looked sturdy enough for us couple of bulls in the China shop. But this teapot had an overhead bamboo handle that was rigidly fixed in an upright position, interfering with emptying water into it with ease. So I tried to convince my husband to try an old teapot that I got from my father that was made in England circa World War II. “But that is a collectible,” came his reply. I suppose he was right. And we would end up acquiring yet another teapot, this time commissioned to specifications for our daily morning use.

I thought that perhaps I should make a teapot. I no longer have a potter’s wheel although I do have access to one. But I do have plenty of plaster forms for rounded objects which could easily be put into service in making a hand built teapot. Had I mentioned this to my husband? Perhaps not because I could see that he was set on putting an order in for a teapot from a professional ceramicist. Most likely the professional ceramicist would make a pot more easily and more technically proficient than me.

Yet the idea that I could come up with a good teapot had not left me. I had been studying teapot designs on Etsy and even juried online exhibitions of my favorite designs. I mulled this over as I sat down to work on paintings for my miniature art show. What emerged from my paint that day was a series of paintings of imaginary teapots. Theoretical teapots, I named the series. They all have a handle on the side so as not to interfere with putting in water or removing expended tealeaves. I imagined them large and providing tea for the multitudes. I liked how the series progressed, and allowed myself great experimentation with faux finishing tecnques, stamps and stencils. I liked the series so much that I started stealing paintings of other objects and making them into teapots. An example is an old painting of a seated Buddha in meditation. Add a handle, lid and spout and he is born anew as a vessel for pouring tea.

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