Banner: Porcelain Grace, Meryl Ruth, Fine Art

 

   BE-YOU-TEA-FUL DREAMER, A CERAMIC TEAPOT


  • The concept for this piece had a long period of germination. The earlier work on Tea Cozy suggested a more provocative and sophisticated theme involving a classical female torso form. As the idea matured, it ultimately materialized into a figure draped suggestively in a bodice of draped lace (made of clay). The silk-screened mask with its image of Marilyn Monroe was intended to convey the conflict between the awakening of  innocent beauty and the reality of exploitation of sexual maturity. The title derives from Stephen Foster's sentimental poem "Beautiful Dreamer" [full lyrics entered below]. The title's wordplay invokes the tea of the teapot and her tee-shirt-like bodice, her hopeful dream of beauty, her introspective self-awareness in "being yourself," and the fullness of her perceptions.
  • The resulting ceramic teapot began with a sculpted form which was hollowed out by carving to make the body of the teapot.
  • The addition of the camisole was a technical innovation based on an old method with modern modifications. It involved using cotton lace dipped in slip and draped on the figure. When dried and kiln fired, the original material is burned away, leaving the clay bodice applied delicately to the torso.
  • Construction sequence:
       Flesh-colored underglazes applied.
       Lace camisole dipped in orchid-colored slip, draped on figure.
       Kiln fired to burn away lace material.
       Silk-screened face mask appended in place.
       Underglazes painted on; clear glaze air-brushed onto bodice.
       Fired to cone 3 for gentle vitrification.
       China paints applied to enhance coloration.
       A headdress of feathers and beads is added to the mask.
  • Date: 2010.
  • Displayed at DeLuce Clay National Juried Exhibition, University of Northwest Missouri, Mayville, MO, 2012.
  • Size: 7.75” x 7.5” x 4” (11.0" x 9.0" x 7.0" with headdress)
  • Available for purchase: Price $900.
Ceramic teapot in the form of a woman's torso skimpily covered with a T-shirt.

   ENLARGED VIEWS

Enlarged view.

Enlarged view.

Enlarged view.

Enlarged view.

 


   CREATIVE PROCESS

Meryl fashioning this piece in its earliest sculptural phase.

Early sculpted body form that will become the body of the teapot when it has been hollowed out by carving.

  • The sculpted form of a female torso, shown here in an early stage of construction, will become the body of the teapot when it is hollowed out by carving.
  • As designed, the uplifted left arm will serve as the teapot's spout and the right arm will be the handle. The hair bun on the model's head is planned as the lid.

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Further sculptural details are added.

  • Further deveopments include delicate sculptural details added to refine the blocked out figure.
  • The hollowing out process, not visible here, is also begun to form the main inner cavity of the teapot'.

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The work is dissected for purposes of hollowing its interior.

  • The piece is incised for access to its interior for purposes of forming the cavity of the teapot's body and spout.
  • Shown are the extensive cuts used to divide the bulk of the work.

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The teapot's body cavity is formed by hollowing out the interior of the clay form by carving.

  • To achieve the objective of forming the teacup's interior space, the interior parts of the clay form are hollowed out by carving.

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After the hollowing-out process is completed, the cut sections are rejoined by scoring and slipping process.

  • After the hollowing-out process is completed, the separated segments are rejoined by means of scoring and siipping.
  • Note the opening left for the spout of the teapot on the work's left elbow.

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Further sculpting is done to enhance the figure.

  • With the completion of the hollowing-out process and reconstitution of the figure, additional sculpting is done to enhance and refine the detailwork on the piece.

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Further refinement of sculpted figure.

  • The sculpted figure is further refined to achieve more optimum dynamic flow, shape and contour.

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Clasp for hair behind neck doubles as teapot's lid.

  • At the back of the neck, an opening has been created for the teapot's lid. The lid itself is formed in the shape of a hair clasp.

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Flesh-tone underglaze applied to finsh the skin coloration prior to proceeding with the figure's wet t-shirt in orchid slip and cotton lace.

  • The finishing coloration touches for the skin tones are made by the application of flesh-colored underglazes.
  • This is done preparatory to dressing the figure in the orchid-colored cotton lace of her t-shirt.

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Lace dipped in slip is draped over the figure to form a t-shirt.

  • The camisole that the figure wears is designed and created from lace that has been dipped in orchid-colored slip.
  • The wet lace is blotted and draped over the torso to form the camisole.
  • The innovative technique used here is an old lost method, here done with the intent of reinventing and modernizing it and thereby reviving it for the contemporary fine art arena. Cotton lace is dipped in slip and draped over the preformed figure. It is allowed to dry slowly and then kiln fired to burn away the material, leaving the very delicate clay shirt in place.

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A mask is attached to provide the mystery of identify and self-image.

  • A  face mask silk-screened with a Marilyn Monroe image is applied to portray the awakening of naive beauty, blossoming beauty of youth, and the conflicting self-awareness of maturity.

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Clear glaze is air-brushed onto bodice and colored underglazes are applied to the hair.

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Tissue paper is pasted on areas that need to be protected against the application of clear glaze.

  • Before the clear glaze can be applied to the lace bodice, areas that will not be glazed must be protected against being inadvertently sprayed with glaze. This is accomplished by using damp fascial tissue to cover and protect all surface areas except over the draped lace itself.
  • The work is then mounted on a banding wheel, so it can be rotated smoothly during the glazing process to impart an even coating.
  • Thus assembled, it is placed in a cardboard box, where a light clear glaze is sprayed onto the exposed surfaces by air-brushing.
  • After the glazing is completed, the piece is unwrapped and any excess glaze is carefully removed.

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Refired at lower cone temperature to prevent damage to delicate lace bodice.

  • Kiln firing is done to cone 3, rather than the hotter cone 5, in order to provide a gentler vitrification temperature so as to prevent the delicate lace bodice claywork from undergoing potential disintegration.
  • China paint embellishments are added to enhance the coloration.
  • To complete the work, a headdress of feathers and beads is added atop the mask.

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Completed work with headdress added to mask.


Poem verbiage


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