Banner: Porcelain Grace, Meryl Ruth, Fine Art

 

   BRANCHING OUT, A CERAMIC TEAPOT


Nest Tea is part of a series of ceramic teapots formed of owls and woodpeckers in a tree.
  • The concept behind this series of works stems from a commission for a ceramic teapot in the form of tree branches with birds. This third work in the themed series fully satisfied the desires of the original buyer. It is further modified from its predecessors, Serendipi-tea and Birch Bark Tea-ming.  The branching in this work is still more complex, and the termnal ends of the branches are more pointed. The woodpecker is small and three blue robin's eggs are in the nest. The coloration of the branches is darker brown and weathered to emulate a more dessicated tree. The main branch is formed into a trunk-like structure placed on a ceramic ivy-covered tile base 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. They are then joined together 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 where it serves 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.  Three 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 is completed.
    • All parts are assembled and fixed in place to finish the work.
  • Date: 2015.
  • Size: 14.0" x 9.0" x 4.5".
  • A  commissioned work.
  • Sold.

ENLARGED VIEW

 

Enlarged view.

 

Enlarged detail 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 pointed for the third version in this series of thematically-related stoneware teapots.

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A series of owl heads are 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 made pliable by rewetting and 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 hollowed smaller branch represents the teapot's spout.
  • A  large circular opening is made in the main branch knot to accommodate the owl.
  • The work is provided with a nest, made of small extruded clay coils.  After firing to cone 6, the nest is glued into the notch between the main and the subsidiary branches.
  • The nest is supplied with Fimo clay eggs decorated with robin's blue underglaze.
  • One of the previously made Fimo clay owl's heads is located 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.
  • A  camouflaged lid, first carved, decorated and fired, fits into the opening made for it in the main branch just above the owl's cavity.

 

 

  • 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. Multiple firings to cone 018 follow each layer of paint.
  • The woodpecker is permanently attached to the main branch opposite the spout where it serves as the teapot's handle.
  • A flat ceramic tile base is formed and embellished with ivy forms made of sculpted clay. They are colored with glazes.
  • After separate firing and coloration, all components are fixed in place with ceramic glue to complete the work.