Banner: Porcelain Grace, Meryl Ruth, Fine Art

 

 

  TOTEM TEA, A CERAMIC TEAPOT


 

Final image of competed Totem Tea, a teapot in the form of a totimic howling wolf.
  • Totem Tea is a commissioned work. The buyer wanted an American Indian-type teapot to match her collection of Amerind decor. I suggested a teapot in the form of a wolf. She asked me to add feathers to the wolf's neck plus symbols of both an eagle and a bear. These were to be located in each ear. I felt the space in the ear regions would be too small to accommodate the symbols. We finally agreed to place them either on the wolf's flank or the tail.
  • The teapot's spout is placed in the neck fur beneath the arching wolf's head. The lid constitutes the entirety of the wolf's head, while the tail is the handle.
  • The buyer periodically approved both the preliminary drawing and the images as the stoneware clay construction and glazing processes progressed, She was given regular updates to ensure I was accommodating her wishes.
  • This teapot is hand-built and entirely sculpted of stoneware clay, except for digital decals which are commercially made to my specifications. The feather decorations are added as cold finishes after the last kiln vitrification firing, glued in place with silicon glue.
  • The teapot is first shaped without much detail. It is then allowed to harden slightly by air drying and then cut in half with a two-handled wire so it could be hollowed by scooping out the inner clay. This step is essential to avoid irrreparable damage at high kiln temperatures. It also metamorphoses the solid clay structure into a functional teapot vessel.
  • After the hollowing process is complete, the two halves are permanently joined together by the slip and score method.
  • Details of the facial features, ears, tail and paws are sculpted onto the outer surfaces.
  • Clay is carved for the faux fur.
  • First kiln firing is done to cone 04.
  • Construction details:   
    • The work is exposed to its first firing at a kiln temperature of cone 04.
    • Decorative coloration is begun with black glossy glaze applied to the inner teapot chamber.
    • Colored glazes are added for the embellishment process over the entire exterior surface to provide vivid details.
    • Refiring is done to cone 5/6.
    • Further layers of colored glaze are added.
    • Another firing is done to cone 05.
    • Digital decals are applied to rump and tail. The work is then refired to cone 015.
    • Feather clusters are added by gluing in place under the ears with silicon glue.
    • A  wooden base is permanently attached to complete the art work.
  • Date: 2019.
  • Size: 12.5” x 9.0” x 4.0”.
  • A commissioned work.
  • Sold.
 


ENLARGED VIEWS

 

Enlarged view.

 

Enlarged view.

 

Enlarged detail view.

 

 

 


CREATIVE PROCESS

 

 

   

 

Preliminary sketch of Totem Tea.

 

  • A preliminary drawing, shown here, was made to give the buyer who commissioned this work visual details for her approval to proceed with construction.

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Totem Tea in more advanced construction     

 

  • The work is entirely hand-built and sculpted teapot in the form of a howling wolf. It is first shaped with little detail out of stoneware clay. It is allowed to air dry to harden slightly so as to retain its integrity. In this state. it is cut vertically in half by means of a two-handed wire knife. The solid inner clay core is scooped out, leaving a thin layer of clay to form the chamber of the teapot. This hollowing process is necessary to prevent serious damage to the vulnerable work during the ensuing kiln firing at high temperatures.
  • After it is hollowed, the work is reassembled by fixing the two halves together by means of the slip and score method.
  • Clay is sculpted to provide details for the wolf's face, ears, tail and paws. Surface clay is carved to begin the long process of adding fur to the neck and upper body.

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More advanced construction of Totem Tea.

  • As construcition advances, more details are applied to the outer surfaces to continue the process of adding fur to the rest of the body.
  • The work is exposed to its first kiln firing at cone 04.

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Beginning of coloration with glazes.

 

  • After a successful firing, coloration begins with black glossy cone 5 glaze applied to the interior surface to make the main teapot compartment watertight.
  • Underglazes are added to provide color details to facial features, legs and rump at this phase. The rest of the body and tail will be treated in the same way.
  • The feather decoration, shown here, is placed temporarily to demonstrate how it will look when applied later as a permanent cold finish after all glazings and firings are done.

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More advanced coloration process.

 

  • Additional embellishment is applied with colored glazes.
  • The feather groups at the ears base are temporarily placed for purposes of advanced display. They are removed when firings are done to vitrify the glazes. The feathers will be permanently glued in place after all firings are completed.

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Completed work.

 

  • Digital decals are applied to the flanks and tail. Another firing follows to cone 015.
  • Layers of China paints are applied and the work is fired to cone 018.
  • Feather decorations are glued permanently in place below the ears using silicon glue.
  • A  wooden base is attached to complete the piece.

 


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