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  YINLONG TEA, A MIXED MEDIA TEAPOT


Yinglong Tea is a ceramic teapot in the form of a winged dragon.
  • Yinlong Tea is the second iteration of a series based on the theme of a winged dragon. The ancient winged dragon, or Yinglong in Chinese, is a well-known part of oriental lore.The prototype is the commissioned piece, Mythical Tea Dragon. This one differs from the earlier work in a number of ways. It is smaller in size; the lid is signifcantly altered; the dragon sits further back on its haunches; the horns are elongated. Aside from its major changes in form and design, its wings are made of fiber rather than clay; they are made separately, to be attached later after the ceramic component is completed and fired as often as needed for coloration, detail and other embellishments.
  • The work's full name, Yinlong Tea, is a play on words, suggesting both the Chinese origin of the dragon myth and Chinese oolong tea, the latter a reference to the dragon's teapot form and function.
  • Other than its fiber wings, this mixed media piece is made entirely of stoneware clay. Various techniques are used for construction, including hand building, slab construction, extrusion, press mold, carving and sculpture.
  • The wings are made from Foss Shape, a special commercial form of felt. The felt wings are created from an original pattern piece with sewed-in wiring to help permanently maintain its structural integrity. A  heat gun is used to strengthen, burn and reshape the wings so they look fragile, but are secure structurally. Many pieces of the felt fall away during this process, giving the appearance of an airy, translucent form. Subsequently, gold wool is incorporated using a felting technique to secure the wool joins.
  • A small piece of polymer clay is mixed by me to match exactly with the white and gold coloration of the rest of the work. It is attached to the bottom areas of the wings. This permitted the wings to be integrated perfectly with the teapot.
  • The wings are attached permanently to the ceramic dragon base using Sobo glue followed by PC 11 glue. The former glue helps the fiber stay attached; the latter affixes the ceramic to the fiber.
  • Construction details:   
    • After thorough drying, the greenware clay dragon is first fired to cone 04 to a bisque state.
    • Glossy white glaze is applied and the work is refired to cone 5.
    • White China paint is also applied, followed by another firing to cone 018.
    • Gold overglaze is added to all surfaces and wiped away to impart gold-colored interstices in all the carved areas
    • Polymer clay is mixed to match the coloration of the main work and attached to the wings.
    • The wings are affixed to the clay body by gluing.
    • Embellishments are applied to the wings and the ceramic body for color and detail.
  • Date: 2017.
  • Size: 10.0" x 10.0" x 10.0".
  • Price: $900.
 


ENLARGED VIEWS

 

Enlarged view.

 

Enlarged view.

 

Enlarged view.

 

Enlarged view.

Photographs by Nick Thompson of Berlian Arts                                                                     

 

 


CREATIVE PROCESS

 

 

   

 

 

Yinglong Tea in an early phase of clay construction.

 

  • Early phase of construction of the ceramic component of the teapot is illustrated here.
  • The dragon's body (main chamber of the teapot) is wheel thrown, hollowed and sculpted. Its head and neck are made of extruded clay modified by carving and sculpting; a spout opening is made in the neck and modified by altering. The horns are extruded and altered. The lid is wheel thrown to fit the opening for it at the top of the main teapot chamber. The handle is also extruded; it doubles as the dragon's tail.
  • When the initial phase of construction of the ceramic component of this teapot is completed, the work is allowed to air dry to its greenware state.
  • It is then subjected to its first bisque firing to cone 04.

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Various experimental attempts to create fiber wings for this dragon teapot.

 

  • A  number of attempts are made on an experimental basis to construct fiber wings to be attached to the ceramic dragon body. The results of four trials are shown here in sequence from the upper left image. Each is made from Foss Shape (a felt product stiffened by heat gun or fabric steamer), wire armature for structural support and sewing the component parts in place by felting. The first wing illustrated above, made using only the fabric steamer, is too insubstantial for use.
  • The second is an attempt to create a more delicate (yet stronger) structure using the heat gun and almost melting the Foss Shape. It produced a more spidery appearance which is also deemed too fragile for this piece.
  • This is repeated in the third try, but with somewhat less heat administered over a shorter duration. It yields a better wing, but still not precisely what I wanted.
  • The fourth also used felted (not to be confused with using felt) Foss Shape to join prepared segments of felt to each other, and reenforced the joins by oversewing using a water-soluble stabilizer. The wing is felted using gold wool, and then the heat gun is applied to the entire wing, singeing parts of it to create a delicate inner structure. Wire is sewn into the Foss Shape to maintain the wing structure and pattern permanently. This process proves most satisfactory in yielding substantive (yet delicate-looking) wings of satisfactory structural integrity and artistic value for use in this work.

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Completed fiber wings are applied to the ceramic dragon body to assess their artistic and structural compatibility.

 

  • The successfully fired teapot (temporarily without wings) is sculpted and carved to provide details throughout. Surfaces are first colored entirely in a white glaze.
  • The work is refired to cone 5.
  • A  glossy white China paint layer is applied, and the work is fired again to cone 018.
  • Gold overglaze is added and wiped away to impart gold outlines to all the carved areas.
  • The completed fiber wings are permanently attached to the dragon body by means of two glues, Sobo and PC 11.
  • Color and detail embellishments are applied to both the ceramic and the fiber components.

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Finalized work illustrated.

 

 

  • Polymer clay is mixed to match the white and gold coloration of the piece. Small pieces of it are attached to the bottom areas of the wings.
  • The completed fiber wings, with polymer attached, are permanently affixed to the previously constructed and decorated caramic dragon body., using Sobo and PC 11 glues.
  • Cold finishes for color and details are applied to both the ceramic and fiber components to complete the work.

 


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