Banner: Porcelain Grace, Meryl Ruth, Fine Art

 

  DYSFUNCTIONAL PAR-TEA, A CERAMIC TEAPOT


Dysfunctional Par-tea, A Ceramic Teapot in the form of the March Hare character from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." /></div></td>
            <td width=
  • This teapot is the third in the series of teapot designs based on Lewis Carol's nonsense satire, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." The largest version is March Hare Madness; the smallest is Alice's Tea[pot. The latter was initially produced on commission and served as impetus for the other two. Each is different from the others in a number of ways. This one, for example, has eyes that do not protrude as much as either of the others; the collar's lace draping is thinner and more delicate in form; the rabbit's stance is more gestural as if ready to leap forward and requiring a base for stability as a consequence; I have also added an etching to decorate the watch backing and a newly-patterned flag to hang from the horn (which is also the teapot's spout).
  • The hare wears the Knave of Hearts royal robes, shown in detail at the neck, shoulders and front paws. The teapot's main chamber mimicks the shape of the Mad Hatter's pocket watch. The rabbit head doubles as the teapot's lid, fitted into the neck opening.
  • The ceramic work is entirely hand-built of stoneware clay, except for the wheel-thrown clay horn (spout) and knurled winder knob, the extruded clay handle, the aforementioned free-form flag, and the sculpted head (lid), front and hind paws and cotton-tail.
  • The clock face is a round 9" slab that has been cut to shape using a tagboard template. White underglaze is applied to one side of the slab. Roman numerals and a seconds section are 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. The same innovative process is used to make another round slab; it is also allowed to dry partially, and 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 sculpted front and hind rabbit paws and cotton-tail are appended in place. A  lid is formed by sculpting a block of clay in the shape of the rabbit's head; it is hollowed to avoid damage during 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, an old method I revived, which uses lace dipped in clay slip to form realistic faux fabric in clay.
  • Construction sequence:
    • First fired to cone 04 after thorough drying in air.
    • Clock face and eyes are painted in clear glaze;  glaze is also air-brushed onto the delicate lace collar to give this delicate structure a degree of support; colored glazes are hand-painted on all surfaces, other than the lid, paws and tail. Black glaze is used to add hour, minute and second hands, set at six o'clock to adhere to Wonderland's perpetual tea time.
    • Refired to cone 06.
    • The handle, spout, watch backing and outer rim are coated in gold luster. Mother of pearl luster is applied to the clock face. The 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 given a final firing to cone 018.
    • The back of the watch case is decorated with an etching made by incising the clay surface.
    • The work is completed with overglazes and cold finishes of metallic luster and clear porcelain glazes to face, paws and costume.
  • Displayed at the Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, show entitled Teapot! Eighth National Invitational Exhibit.
  • Date: 2013.
  • Size:  12.0"  x  9.5"   x  7.0".
  • Museum purchase by Kamm Teapot Foundation, Sparta, NC.
  • Sold.

ENLARGED VIEWS

 

 

Enlarged view.

 

Enlarged view.

 

Enlarged view.

 

 


CREATIVE PROCESS

 

 

 

   Silk-screened clockface on round clay slab.

 

  • Two  nine-inch round clay slabs are cut using a preformed template of tagboard.
  • One side of each slab is covered in white glaze. On one of them, a silk-screened image of a clockface is applied over the white base, as shown.
  • Both are allowed to dry partially to the leather-hard state. They are then rewetted on the unglazed and undecorated side. This makes the slabs flexible so they can be worked to reshape them to the convex forms of a watch face and backing, respectively.

Return to top

 

    Back legs added.

  • The two newly-formed convext clay slabs are united by slip and score method.  The seam is reenforced with a cord of extruded clay, fixed in place by the same technique.
  • The hind legs, as demonstrated here, are sculpted and appended permanently upon the clock face and backing.

Return to top

 

Structural design completed except for the Elizabthan collar.

  • Additional clay structures are made and affixed during construction, such as the forepaws, neck support for the delicate collar, shoulder and front paw robing (made of thin clay sheets), handle, watch winder (upon which knurls are sculpted).
  • Further, a large piece of clay is sculpted in the form of the hare's head with a projection at its bottom intended to fit into the opening in the teapot body, where it will serve as the lid. The head is hollowed to ensure against damaage during kiln firing.

Return to top

 

Collar formed of lace soaked in clay slip is added.

  • A delicate Elizabethan collar is fashioned of clay using a technique called lace draping. Cotton lace is dipped in clay slip and modelled into the form of the collar's folds. After firing, the lace will burn off, leaving the clay collar form in place. Here the collar has been formed, but not yet fired, and is in place atop the supporting neck ring. Additional cotton lace decorations are applied to the cuffs of the hare's garment, using the same method.

Return to top

 

Back view showing etching on watch backing.

  • An ethcing is incised on the back of the teapot (backing of the watch) for its decorative impact..  The work is thoroughly air-dried to the bisque state and fired to cone 04.

Return to top

 

 

After firing, detailed decorative coloration is done with glazes and lusters. A decorated tile base is applied to complete the work.  added.

 

  • Clear glaze is applied to the eyes and air-brushed onto the lace collar. Colored glazes are hand-painted extensively as needed. Black glaze adds hour, minute and second hands.
  • Refiring is done to cone 04.
  • Gold luster is applied to handle, spout, watch backing (enhancing the incised etching), and outer rim. Opalescent luster is painted on the clock face.
  • The free-form clay flag is hung from the spout.
  • A flat clay tile, predecorated with clockface design, is added as the teapot's supporting base.
  • Final firing is done to cone 018.
  • Cold finishes of overglazing, metallic luster and clear porcelain glaze complete the work.

 


Return to top