Banner: Porcelain Grace, Meryl Ruth, Fine Art

 

  

YOU-KNIT-TEA, A FIBER TEAPOT


 

 

 

  • This is the second work in a series of teapots dealing with the social movement called #MeToo. The piece is an all-fiber teapot, designed as a modification of its prototype ceramic teapot, Me Too Tea.
  • Construction begins with the creation of a number of tagboard templates. This art work is intended to be taller and wider than its predecessor, which was constrained in size by the limitations imposed by my 18" (interior height) available kiln space. No boundaries limit the size of fiber art works, offering the luxury of large front and back panels for imagery.
  • The teapot is a replica of a vintage handbag, similar in shape to the former clay model. Instead of ceramic decals for decorating the panels, I use decorative fabrics that I designed. Once again, I use the concept of the Rosie the Riverter poster with its theme of You Can Do It. My inspiration for the work derives from the rows of variably colored silkscreened Marilyn Monroe portraits by Andy Warhol,
  • I cut felt-like fabric called Foss Shape using original pattern pieces. Working with fabric contrasts with work in clay. I have to finish each segment in fiber before assembling the teapot. Moreover, fiber is clearly not utilitarian for a functional teapot, whereas ceramic works usually are. For ceramic art works, the structure is built first; decorative details come much later in the process.
  • Original design imagery with colorful rows of Rosie images are designed and digitally printed onto cotton panels. The panels are also prelettered, the front reading "Me Too" and the back reading "You Can Do It" in mirrored lettering. I try to make the women look diverse, yet with similar facial characteristics and, of course, determination.
  • To form the front panel of You-knit-tea (not-so-subtly pronounced "unity" to commemorate the #MeToo movement), I cut the panels into horizontal and vertical strips and weave them together; and then quilt them. I make my own cording; I airbrush the cording; tiny 3mm beads are added where the woven areas intersect on the front panel; and sew it in place peripherally. The back panel is pieced together in an appliqué; I then quilt the panel; more beads are also placed around the top of the back panel; and cording is added there as well. The work is then oven baked to stiffen the Foss Shape and ensure the teapot's integrity and permanence.
  • The lid is formed of a small piece of polymer clay (Fimo) wrapped in Foss Shape and oven baked. This component is used to mount three wet-felted wool balls atop the teapot's body.
  • The feet are made of wet-felted Merino wool balls; two are pink and two royal blue. They are glued in place beneath the teapot's body.
  • The handle is cut, sewn, inverted, oven heated, appliquéd and airbrushed. Sturdy wire is inserted into the length of the handle as an armature to maintain its shape. The handle is sewn atop the body of the teapot and stabilized with liquid fabric glue.
  • Exhibited at Portland Maine Craft Gallery, Portland, ME, July-August, 2018.
  • Date: 2018.
  • Size: 24.0" x 13.5" x 7.0".
  • Available for purchase. Price: $900.

 

 


ENLARGED VIEWS

 

Enlarged view.

 

Enlarged view.

 

Enlarged view.

 

 

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CREATIVE PROCESS

 

Early stage of construction and coloration.

 

  • Using predesigned tagboard templates, I cut Foss Shape (a commercial felt-like material) to shape for all the separate component parts of the teapot construction.
  • For the front panel, shown above on the left, cotton fabric is designed with lettering and sewn in place. Panels of cotton are then imprinted with small Rosie the Riveter poster images. These panels are cut into horizontal and vertical strips, which are woven together and then sewn into place on the felt surface.
  • For the back panel, illustrated on the right above, cotton fabric is designed with reverse mirror lettering. Panels of cotton are imprinted with similar imagery. They are quilted to the felt surface.

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Signature sewn for application to the bottom of the tiber teapot by sewing.

  • An elliptical patch of pink cotton cloth is signed and dated with machine stitching of black thread.
  • It is appliquéd onto the black airbrushed Foss Shape that forms the bottom of the teapot.
  • Green thread is sewn around the pink patch to hold it in place. This step is completed before the teapot is assembled.

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Interior details.

 

 

  • Side panels of the teapot are made of Foss Shape. They are airbrushed with black fabric paint.
  • The panels are attached to the front and back panels by sewing.
  • The inner surface of the woven front panel can be seen illustrated here, later to be hidden from view when the teapot is fully assembled.

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Lid is embellished with cotton cloth on which airbrushed designs are applied.     Rear view with lid decorations added.

 

  • Embellishments are added to the top panel of the Foss Shape at the front and the back of the teapot.
  • Cotton fabric sections are cut to fit the exposed Foss Shape areas. The patterns, shown here, are manipulated and airbrushed. They are sewn in place.
  • The spout on the front of the teapot is decorated in a black and green pattern with fabric paint. The airbrushed black and white checkered circle of cloth on the back panel is a flat cloth intended to resemble a three-dimensional ball.
  • The ornamental clasp is a gold colored fabric that has been sculpted and airbrushed with gold. Lace is added, airbrushed and then removed, leaving just the illusion of lace. The clasp is fixed in place, centered at the top of the teapot by sewing and gluing.

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Handle and lid are constructed and added to the teapot by sewing, structurally reenforced by gluing.

 

  • The lid, made using a small piece of polymer clay (Fimo), is formed and oven heated. Three balls of wet-felted Merino wool are sewn and glued in place around the clay.
  • The handle is made of Foss Shape, which is sewn, inverted, oven heated, appliquéd and airbrushed. Sturdy wire is inserted to maintain the handle's structure.
  • Beading with 3mm beads is done at the intersections of the woven panel on the front panel and around the top section of the back panel, thus completing the work.
  • White-headed pins, seen here, are used to temporarily stabilize the various glued parts.

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Enlarged view.

 

  • When the glue is thoroughly dry, the pins are removed. This completes the work.

 

 


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