Banner: Porcelain Grace, Meryl Ruth, Fine Art

 

  FIT TO A TEA, A CERAMIC TEAPOT


 

Fit to a Tea is a teapot in the form of a leopard-patterned boot surmounted by an emerging leopard.
  • My objective in making this ceramic work was to create a functional teapot that incorporates an exotic leopard boot with an emerging leopard, combining and integrating the leopard skin pattern in both.
  • I began by purchasing an old boot  on eBay covered with a leopard-patterned faux fur and proceeded to make a plaster mold of it. This process failed badly --and was therefore abandoned -- because the fur on the boot was not conducive to the mold-making process. A second tall boot was obtained in smooth leather. This worked well to facilitate making a mold from which a clay boot could be cast.
  • The boot mold is made in several sections. The process involves using a rubber mold with an outer plaster mold for reenforcement. The segments are then joined together. The assembled negative mold is used to make a positive clay replica of part of the boot; the remainder is sculpted. Press mold corrugated boot sole and heel are made and affixed.
  • Sculpting the leopard emerging from the boot is done next. It is hollowed before being permanently attached in place atop the boot. An extruded clay handle is attached as well; it does double duty as the leopard's tail. The tail's distal end is appended in place at the base of the lacings on the front panel of the boot. The spout is first placed at the leopard's left shoulder where it proved to be misaligned with the handle located opposite it. The spout is, therefore, relocated to the leopard's left ear.
  • At this point with all the structural details completed, the work is allowed to dry thoroughly in air to the greeenware state, in preparation for its first firing to cone 04.
  • Detailed embellishments with glazes and China paints cover the surfaces of both the leopard and the faux leopard-skin boot with a leopard-skin pattern.
  • Construction sequence:
    • Bisque fired to cone 04.
    • Thi ck black underglazes brushed on and wiped off; then painted with faux leopard-skin pattern in underglazes.; heel and sole hand painted in black glaze; details of leopard's face in colored glazes; grommets, zipper and buckle (lid) in clear glaze.
    • Refired to cone 5.
    • Gold luster applied to hardware elements.
    • Fired to cone 018.
    • Cold finished with clear glossy Pebeo Porcelaine glaze.
  • Niche Awards 2014 Finalist.
  • Shown at Center for Maine Contemporary Art Biennial Exhibition, Rockport, ME, 2014
  • Date: 2013.
  • Size: 14.0" x 8.5" x 4.0" .
  • Sold.

 


ENLARGED VIEWS

 

Enlarged view.   

Enlarged view.

Enlarged view.

Enlarged view.

 

 


CREATIVE PROCESS

 

 

Drawing  and rendering of anticipated work.   

 

  • Preliminary drawing of new work as imagined by Meryl Ruth is elaborated upon, with a projected rendering by her daughter, Julianna Stoll.
  • Artistic license changed a number of the work's features in the course of its construction.

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Formation of plaster mold of a boot obtained for this purpose.

 

  • After a prolonged search, I finally found what I thought was the perfect boot to serve as a template for this work. Aside from its leopard-skin faux fur pattern, it fulfilled the essential criterion I was seeking, namely, it had to be the ugliest leopard boot I had ever seen. It was bought on eBay. 
  • It is shown here in the initial process in which I am making a rubber mold, reenforced by an outer plaster mold, of the boot as the main teapot compartment. Regrettably, the faux fur surface of the boot proved to be incompatible with a successful molding process.

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Second attempt to make boot mold, using a leather boot with no fur, proved successful.

 

  • Having failed in my first attempt because of the furry boot surface, I obtained another boot made entirely of leather. Mold-making using this template proved much more successful.
  • Shown here are the two halves of the rubber mold (with outer plaster mold casting for reenforcement) with negative representations of the new leather boot.
  • The halves are joined in preparation for filling the space with clay to facilitate formation of the positive replica of a ceramic boot.

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Fired clay mold is made for boot sole.

  • A  separate mold is made of the boot's sole. It is made of clay, not plaster. The mold is kiln fired to bisque state dryness. This is a process I rarely use, but it is found essential here.
  • The clay cast is then used to create a positive press mold reproduction of the sole for attaching in place on the previously made ceramic boot. 

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Cast of shoe before heel is attached. 

 

  • Using the plaster casts made from the leather leopard boot, I am able to reconstruct  a new ceramic boot by filling the negative plaster structure with clay, which is allowed to dry.
  • The cast is removed to reveal the clay replica of the boot. Additional sculpting is needed to complete the main portion of the boot. The press mold sole is affixed.

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Heel attached.

 

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Leopard figure is added atop the boot.

 

  • A  leopard figure is sculpted and hollowed with a spout opening at its left shoulder. It is attached to the top of the boot as if it were emerging from the interior.
  • The leopard's tail forms the teapot handle. The distal tip of the tail is affixed to the lower faux lacings at the front of the boot.
  • Since the spout's original opening was discovered to be misaligned with the handle opposite it, the opening was later relocated to the leopard's left ear.

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Additional sculpture work done on the leopard to impart details.

 

  • Additional sculpting is done on the leopard's head to impart details.

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More detail of leopard head made by delicate sculpting.

 

  • More details are added to the figure of the leopard by means of delicate sculpting to give it a fiercer expression.

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The teapot's lid is formed by a buckle on the leopard's back.

 

  • The opening for the teapot's iid is made in the center of the leopard's back. The clay lid itself is sculpted in the form of a buckle similar to the buckles on the boot.

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Sculpting completes the construction phase.

 

  • Final structural details complete the construction phase of this work.
  • The piece is now allowed to dry thoroughly to the leather-hard state preparatory to its first firing to cone 04.

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Leopard skin pattern applied first with  Underglazes.

  • Decorative leopard-skin pattern is begun with the application of underglazes to all surfaces.

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Further embellishment of pattern with China paints.

  • Continued embellishment until the entire work has been enhanced with glazes for the leopard-skin pattern, except heel and sole, which are glazed in matte black.
  • Refiring is then done to cone 5.

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Work completed.

  • Lusters are added to grommets, zippers and buckle (lid) as well.
  • Fired again to cone 018.
  • Cold finishes are applied in the form of clear glaze (Pebeo Porcelaine) over the entire surface to complete the work.

 

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