Banner: Porcelain Grace, Meryl Ruth, Fine Art

 

  THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT WENT TO TEA, A CERAMIC TEAPOT


A viking ship with billowy sail emblazoned with Lear poem, pig masthead, wave pattern gunwale and owl and pussycat on board.
  • This is a hand-built stoneware teapot.
  • It was designed specifically for the NECA exhibition on the topic of Tidal Forces and Next Wave. Reinterpreting "wave" at first to represent hair waves, I conjured a wavy-haired dog, like a Poodle, and perhaps a poodle in a boat on a wavy sea, A later thought, also linked to ocean waves, recalled a favorite childhood poem, Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussy-cat" and especially its first line, "The owl and the pussy-cat went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat." [Click for the poem in full.] It was a small wordplay leap to the current name of this teapot and the design details that flowed from it.
  • The Viking-style ship is fitted with a pig (adorned witha gold nose ring) as its masthead and teapot spout, sculpted owl and cat passengers on board, wave-forms for its gunwales, upright mast, paisley hull and a billowy sail with the Lear poem silk-screened on it, plus a braided teapot handle. The pussycat doubles as the teapot's lid. The separate teapot base represents the ocean with matching wave pattern.
  • Construction sequence:
      Fired initially to cone 06.
      Hand-painted with underglazes.
      Refired to cone 5.
      Layers of China paints applied.
      Fired multiple times after each layer to cone 015.
      Opalescent overglazes applied and refired to cone 017.
      Gold luster applied to pig's nose ring.
      Fired yet again to cone 018.
      Other overglazes plus layers of colored pencil added.
      Baked in 300 degree F. oven.
      Beads added to holes prepared for them fore and aft.
  • Displayed at National Teapot Invitational, Cedar Creek Gallery, Creedmoor, NC, Vewers Choice Award, 2011; Texas Teapot Tournament, CAMEO, 18 Hands Gallery, Houston, TX, 2013.
  • Date: 2010.
  • Size: 10.0" x 10.5" x 6.0".
  • Sold.

  


   ENLARGED VIEWS

Enlarged view.

Enlarged view.

Enlarged view.

Enlarged view.

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  CREATIVE PROCESS

Preliminary sketch of proposed teapot in the form of a sailboat on a wavy sea; a cat and an owl are seated in the boat.

  • Preliminary sketch for this work shows a sailboat on a wavy sea. A cat and an owl are seated together within the boat.

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          Beginning constsruction of boat with passengers on board.

Sail template with poem overlaid.

  • Details of beginning of clay slab construction phase with the Viking boat being formed. The curlicue gunwale decorations are intended to reflect the wave pattern of the sea below.
  • Early shapes of sculpted owl and pussycat are in place on board the craft.
  • The template of the sail is shown with a copy of Lear's poem superimposed in the location where it will be silk-screened.
  • Plans are for the masthead, which will serve as the teapot's spout, to be embellished with a figure of a pig with nose-ring.

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Meryl sculpting the body of this piece.

 

Pig's head added to the ship's masthead.

  • A  sculpted pig's head, torso and front limbs are added to serve as the masthead for the ship and the spout for the teapot. The pig's nose ring is yet to be made and applied.
  • The wave-like pattern of the ship's gunwale is completed.

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Silk-screen process is used to imprint "The Owl and the Pussy-Cat" poem onto the clay template that forms the billowing sail.

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Further elaboration of work with sculpted details.

  • Further elaboration is done of both passengers and ship.
  • Details of the owl and the cat are carved into the clay.
  • The sea-wave pattern is added to the boat's keel with bits of clay and sculpting.

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Assembled work with sail on a mast and braided clay handle added.

  • The piece is more fully assembled with an upright mast equipped with billowing sail and a braided clay handle.

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After first successful firing in bisque state to cone 06, underglazing is begun. The pussycat is shown in its early stages of coloration, with downward projection for fitting the segment into the opening on the ship's deck for the lid.

The deck opening is where the lid will go.

  • In its greenware state, the work is subjected to its first kiln firing at cone 06, thereby converting it to a bisque state.
  • Having been successfly fired, the piece is underglazed. Here we see the pussycat in its early stage of coloration.
  • Its long downward-projecting extra spiral tail is intended to fit into a corresponding opening on the ship's deck.

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Embellishment with underglazing for pussycat, owl and masthead pig is added.

  • Figures of cat, owl and masthead pig are embellished with underglazes.

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Underglazing applied to back of sail and top of deck in checkerboard pattern.

  • Further underglazing is applied to the back of the sail and to the deck boards in the form of a checkerboard pattern.
  • The conceptual implication here is the game-playing and playfulness of the piece, reflecting the droll humor and nonsense theme of Lear's poem.

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Further elaboration of glazing.

  • Coloration is enhanced with additional layers of underglazes to further enhance the imagery.

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Near completion of underglazing to flesh out the pea-green boat.

  • After firing to cone 5, coloration with  the application of a rich panoply of layers of China paints results in the evolution of a full-throated pea-green boat. 
  • After each layer of China paint, the piece is refired to cone 015.
  • The paisley print design on the side of the boat can be seen emerging here in its developing phase.

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Coloration with China paints concludes. Pig's nose ring with added gold luster.

  • Gold luster, seen here with dark coloration, is applied to pig's nose ring. When refired, the ring will appear golden in color.

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Finished work after China paints added in layers and beads imbedded in keel.

  • After refiring to cone 18, the nose ring luster takes on a gold color.
  • Cold finishes of layers of China paints are applied.
  • Beads are added to fill the holes prepared earlier for them on the bow and stern parts of the keel to complete the work.

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   DETAILED VIEWS *

Detailed views of Owl and Pussycat.

 


  "THE OWL AND THE PUSSY-CAT" by Edward Lear, 187 1

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat:
They took some honey, and plenty of money
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!

Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing!
Oh! let us be married; too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the bong-tree grows;
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood,
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.


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