Banner: Porcelain Grace, Meryl Ruth, Fine Art

 

  BALLET-LIKE-A CHAI, A CERAMIC TEAPOT

Teapot in the form of a balalaika whimsically distorted to resemble a ballerina.
  • This is the first of a series of stoneware clay teapots in my musical instrument series, which includes Tea Tootaler, Tea-sharp Harmony, Mel-oh-tea-us, Fit as a Fiddle and Just in Case. Two later additional versions in balalaika form with major modifications of design and pattern are Balalaika Teacock and Lara's Theme.
  • This work takes the form of a balalaika, humorously transformed into an abstraction of a ballet dancer.  The wordplay in its name reflects the various elements of this functional teapot, signifying balalaika, ballet, and Russian tea (chai).
  • The teapot's base and body are triangular in shape like that of the soundbox of a classic three-string Slavic balalaika. It has a rounded projection posteriorly to create a pyramidal form. The instrument's base doubles as the ballerina's long costume skirt.
  • The fingerboard for nesting the frets, are extended vertically upward from the peak of the sound box, and then split into two parts for the continuation of the fingerboard on one side, where it becomes the teapot's handle and the dancer's uplifted left arm. The spout projects from the other side, formed as an extension on the side opposite the handle, also serving there as the dancer's right arm aloft. A sculpted tuning peg is the teapot's lid, later embellished with red feathers.
  • The headstock is appended peripherally at the upper extreme of the fingerboard to anchor the strings and place the tuning pegs.
  • A  triangular porcelain (Keraflex) panel is decorated with a peacock design motif using silk-screening for image transfer. The decorated panel is adhered to the flat front section of the teapot body by score and slip method.
  • Construction sequence:.
    • First fired to cone 06.
    • Underglazes applied.
    • Fitted triangular porcelain panel is silk-screened with peacock feather design and affixed to front of the soundbox.
    • The sides of the panel are air-brushed with contrasting glazes. Overglazes and cold finishes are added to the entire teapot to enhance details and coloration. Glazes are applied and fused to the surface by high-temperature kiln refiring.
    • Beaded wire makes the three strings; a tuning peg adorned with feathers forms the lid.
    • Cold finishes complete the work.
  • Displayed at Opening Exhibition, Da Vinci Experience Art Gallery, Falmouth, ME, 2012.
  • Date: 2012.
  • Size: 15.0" x 12.5" x 4.0".
  • Available for purchase. Price: $500.

 


ENLARGED VIEWS

Enlarged view

 

Enlarged view

 

Enlarged view

 


CREATIVE PROCESS

 

 

Early structural development.

  • Early stage in the structural development of this stoneware clay work is illustrated.  The free-form triangular balalaika sound box, flat in front (with the bridge projecting) and curved in back, is the teapot base and body.  At the same time, the pyramidal base doubles as the ballerina's skirt.
  • The instrument's fingerboard with its nested frets is relocated from its classic position as a vertical extension of the sound box off to one side, where it forms the teapot's handle and the upraised left arm of the dancer. The projection on the opposite side is the teapot's spout and also the figure'sright arm held aloft.
  • The lid, placed centrally between handle and spout, is an abstraction of the dancer's head.

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Further structural development.

  • Details are added to the ceramic structure, including tuning pegs, fingerboad frets, skirt folds in the rounded back part of the balalaika soundboard, and supporting feet for the piece.
  • Construction phase completed, the work is allowed to dry to the bone dry or greenware state before it is fired for the first time.

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After firing, underglazing is begun.

  • Following successful first firing to cone 06, the teapot is embellished with underglazing.
  • In addition, a triangular porcelain tile is silk-screened with peacock images. Although still unattached, it will ultimately be affixed to the corresponding triangular face of the soundbox, in the position shown here.
  • The sides of the panel are air-brushed with contrasting glazes.
  • Cold finishes are added to the entire teapot to enhance details and coloration.

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Final glazes are applied and cold finishes complete the work.

 

  • Beaded wire is used for the three strings. Feathers adorn the lid. Cold finishes complete the work.
  • The details of the lid and the headstock, where the strings are anchored and tuning pegs reside, are shown in the insets.

 

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