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  ALICE'S TEAPOT


A ceramic teapot in the form of the March Hare in royal garments, partially encased in the Mad Hatter's pocket watch.
  • This amusing teapot is a smaller version, made to satisfy the requirements of a commission, differing from its prototypical form previously created for March Hare Madness, a much larger version. Both are designed in the form of the March Hare, incorporating various diverse elements presented in the nonsense and richly satirical tale of Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." The rabbit is dressed in the royal garb of the Knave of Hearts. Its body, the main chamber of the teapot, is formed in the shape of the Mad Hatter's pocket watch.
  • A  number of design detail modifications have been made: The rabbit's facial expression is quite different, showing less aloofness and more inquisitiveness. Further, to accommodate the buyer's size constraints for an overall small ceramic work, the rabbit's ears are laid back. Because its hind paws do not have to bear the weight to maintain the balance of the larger work, they have been redesigned from a "flat-footed" pose to an active gestural stance in which the hare appears about to leap forward. Its Elizabethan collar has been diminished in size as well, proportional to the smaller watch face. The spout (horn) is shorter and thinner.  A clay faux quilted cloth flag hangs from two holes on the underside of the spout.
  • The ceramic work is entirely hand-built of stoneware clay, except for the wheel-thrown spout and knurled winder knob, the extruded clay handle, and the aforementioned flag.
  • The clock face is a round 5" slab, cut to shape using a tagboard template. White underglaze is applied to one side of the slab. Roman numerals and a seconds section arethen silk-screened on in black glaze. After partial drying, the back of the decorated watch face slab is rewetted to make it safely flexible without harm to the decorated side, and bent into a convex form to resemble the face of a pocket watch. A similar process is used to make another round slab; also allowed to dry partially, it is then rewetted to allow the now-flexible edges to be bent to form the convex watch backing.
  • The two faces are permanently joined by score and slip method to form the body of the teapot. The seam joint is reenforced with a decorative clay coil. The front and hind rabbit paws and cotton-tail are sculpted. A lid is formed by sculpting a block of clay in the shape of the rabbit's head, hollowed to avoid damage during later kiln firing. The handle is made of extruded clay.
  • Spout and winding stem are wheel-thrown and altered. The winding stem is also carved with knurls.The spout is placed off-center to compensate for distortion from the torque forces that can be expected during kiln firing.
  • The Elizabethan collar and sleeve cuffs are made by lace draping, a revived method using lace dipped in clay slip. The sleeves are hand-built of thin clay slabs.
  • Construction Sequence:
    • First firing to cone 04 in bisque state.
    • Clock face and eyes are painted in clear glaze;  glaze is also air-brushed onto the delicate lace collar; colored glazes are hand-painted on all surfaes, other than the lid, paws and tail. Black glaze is used for hour, minute and second hands.
    • Refired to cone 06.
    • The handle, spout, watch backing and outer rim are coated in gold luster. Mother of pearl luster applied to clock face. The faux quilted flag is hung from beneath the spout.
    • A flat clay tile is decorated with a silk-screen clockface design. It is affixed as the teapot's base.
    • The teapot is fired one last time to cone 018.
    • The back of the watch case is decorated with gold leaf plus red touches of variegated leaf .
    • The work is completed with overglazes and cold finishes of metallic luster and clear porcelain glazes to face, paws and costume.
  • Date: 2013.
  • Size: 10.0" x 9.5" x 6.25".
  • A commissioned work. Sold.

ENLARGED VIEWS

 

Enlarged view.

 

Enlarged view.

 

Enlarged view.

 

 


CREATIVE PROCESS

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A teapot formed of the March Hare in royal garb partially encased in a pocket watch, a preliminary sketch.   

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  • This is the same preliminary colored drawing I made as the model for March Hare Madness. The teapot represents a composition of marginally related elements from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." The March Hare, here dressed in the royal garb of the Knave of Hearts, Is encased in a representation of the Mad Hatter's pocket watch. Alice's Teapot will comport more closely to this design than the earlier, larger teapot, incorporating a number of major and minor structural and design modifications.

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Round template-cut clay slabs are silk-screened with clockface images.    

  • Flat stoneware clay slabs are rolled out and cut to 5" rounds using a tagboard template. They are allowed to partly dry to between the greenware state and the leather-hard state. One side of each slab is painted uniformly with white underglaze. Images of a clockface numerals are then silk-screened in black underglaze onto the white face. Other round clay slabs are also formed for the back of the watch. The back sides of both slabs are rewetted, applying wet paper towels, to soften the slabs again. This process permits me to bend the flat slab slightly to resemble the convex glass face and the metal backing of a pocket watch. It is this innovative technique that facilitates manipulating flat silk-screened clay slabs into nonplanar form without damaging the image.

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Early phase of teapot's construction with both faces of the watch fused plus application of the rabbit's feet.

 

  • The modified watchface and backing slabs are joined using score and slip method. They are further secured with a clay coil to create the body and main compartment of the teapot.
  • Partially sculpted paws and cotton-tail are appended in place, as shown. They are intended to be more gestural and give the appearance of an active rabbit about to leap off its base.

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Construction of the teapot continues.

  • Construction proceeds with the serial addition of the extruded handle and wheel-thrown winding stem and spout. The paws, cotton-tail and rabbit's head are sculpted and inscribed to resemble fur. The front paws are made from thin clay slabs and altered as needed. The neckpiece is kept long to accommodate the Elizabethan collar to be placed later. An opening is left at the base of the neck for the lid, which consists of the hare's sculpted head. The latter is first hollowed to ensure against damage from expansion during kiln firing.

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Ruff color is made by lace slip method and applied in place.

  • The Elizabethan collar is considerably smaller than that created for the larger prototype March Hare Madness, to match the smaller size of this teapot. It is made using cotton lace imported from China. To achieve its special effect, I used an old revived method (called lace draping) in which the lace is dipped in clay slip and then folded into place. Later, when the piece is fired, the original lace burns away, leaving the delicate clay structure in an interesting lace pattern.

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Construction complete, the work is ready for its first kiln firing prior to coloration with glazes.

  • The construction phase is completed, as shown here, except for its tile base.
  • It is now allowed to dry thoroughly to the bisque state, at which point the work is optimally ready for its first firing to cone 04.

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Tile base after silk-screened image applied.

 

  • A flat slab of stoneware tile is decorated with a silk-screen clockface design. It will be used as a base to provide support and stability for the teapot.
  • The base tile is affixed in place using the score and slip method.

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Completely glazed teapot mounted on its tile base for stability.

  • After successful firing, coloration is begun with underglazes. Clear glaze is hand-painted onto the clockface and eyes. It is also air-brushed on the collar to give it more substance and diminish its fragility.
  • Colored glazes are hand-painted on all surfaes, except for the lid, paws and tail. Black glaze creates hour and minute hands. Handle, spout, watch backing and outer rim are coated in gold luster. Mother of pearl luster is applied to clock face. The back of the watch case is decorated with gold luster and a small amount of red variegated leaf.
  • The final firing is to cone 018.
  • The work is completed with overglazes and cold finishes of metallic luster and clear porcelain glazes to face, paws and costume.
  • A flag is made, decorated, quilted and hung in place from two holes previously prepared for it beneath the spout.

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