Banner: Porcelain Grace, Meryl Ruth, Fine Art

 

  BIRCH BARK TEA-MING, A CERAMIC TEAPOT


Nest Tea is part of a series of ceramic teapots formed of owls and woodpeckers in a tree.
  • This is the second work in this series, modified in several important ways from its prototype, Serendipi-tea.  The branching is more complex, yet the termnal ends are blunted. The woodpecker is larger in size and only one robin's egg occupies the nest. The coloration of the branches is lighter to emulate the appearance of birch wood. The main branch is formed into a trunk-like structure with an ivied tile appended below for stability and balance.
  • Several preliminary drawings are made to illustrate this theme.
  • The branching form is constructed of stoneware clay by press mold of latex created from tree branches. These are further modified by sculpting and hollowed and joined to form the main chamber of the teapot. 
  • The lowermost branch serves as the spout. The camouflaged lid is placed in an opening made for it on the main branch just above the owl's cavity.
  • A nest is created from extruded clay coils. It is to be placed in the notch formed by the main and subsidiary branches.
  • A red-bellied woodpecker is sculpted; details are carved while this part is still in its leather-hard state. It is later attached to the main branch as the teapot's handle.
  • The owl head is made of Fimo clay by first photo silk-screening its image onto a flat slab, and then molding the slab to form the owl-head shape before being oven-baked. When complete, it is placed in the large cavity opening formed by carving into the large tree branch. Additional components of the outer aspects of the tree knot are made and attached in place. Robin's eggs are formed from Fimo clay and colored with blue glaze.
  • The various component parts are fired separately and then joined permanently by ceramic glue.
  • Construction sequence:
    • The several unassembled stoneware clay parts are first fired to cone 04.
    • The components made of Fimo clay are oven baked.
    • Underglazes are applied to the bird, the tree branches and the nest.
    • These parts are then refired to cone 5.
    • Layers of China paints are applied.
    • The piece is fired to cone 018 after each paint layer.
    • All parts are assembled and fixed in place to finish the work.
  • Displayed at Teapots! Ninth Invitational Exhibition, Annual National Show, Morgan Glass Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA, 2015.
  • Date: 2015.
  • Size: 14.0" x 8.0" x 4.5".
  • Available for purchase. Price: $500.

ENLARGED VIEWS

 

Enlarged view.

 

 

Enlarged view.

 

 


CREATIVE PROCESS

 

 

 

Preliminary drawing of the intended work is chosen by the buyer, showing tree, nest, knot for owl, and woodpecker.    

 

  • Preliminary drawings of the intended work are made.
  • The work is composed of the branching framework with a nest in a fork of the main branches, a tree knot cavity in which the head of a great gray owl will appear, and a red-bellied woodpecker on the primary branch.
  • The woodpecker will double as the teapot's handle. The primary branch, when hollowed, is to serve as the spout. The lid will be placed in an opening made for it  just above the owl's cavity in the main branch.

 

 

Sketch for another version of Serendipi-tea with more complex branching.

 

  • Early construction of the more complex branching with ends blunted for the second version in this series of thematically-related stoneware teapots.

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A series of owl heads is constructed for use in this series of teapots.    

 

  • Several owl heads are constructed of Fimo clay. Flat slabs are silk-screened with owl images. They are then molded into owl-shaped forms.
  • They are embellished with underglazes and baked in an oven.
  • Each will be added to a teapot in this series, placed within an opening formed in a tree branch knot cavity.
  • Tree branches are constructed of stoneware clay by latex press mold, and further sculpted to give them their faux wood surface appearance.
  • Paired parts are joined to form the main chamber of the teapot. The smaller branch represents the teapot's spout.
  • The work is provided with a nest, made of small extruded clay coils. After firing, the nest is glued in placed in the notch between the main and the subsidiary branches.
  • A  large circular opening is made in the main branch knot to accommodate the owl.
  • The nest, constructed of extruded clay coils, is placed in the branch notch and supplied with Fimo clay eggs decorated with robin's blue underglaze.
  • The nest and eggs are to be permanently affixed with ceramic glue after firing to cone 04.
  • One of the previously made Fimo clay owl's heads is placed within the cavity on the main branch.
  • It is permanently attached there using ceramic glue.
  • Outer clay layers of the knot, previously fired, are also glued around the opening.
  • Camouflaged lid, previously carved, decorated and fired, fits into the opening made for it in the main branch just above the owl's cavity.
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    • The red-bellied woodpecker is sculpted, decorated with underglazes and initially fired to cone 04.
    • Refiring to cone 5 is done.
    • China paints are applied in layers. Firing to cone 018 follows each paint layer.
    • The woodpecker is to be permanently attached to the main branch opposite the spout where it serves as the teapot's handle.
    • After separate firing and coloration, all components are fixed in place with ceramic glue to complete the work.