The teapot has fascinated ceramic artists in both the East and the West for the past 600 years. It is the queen of pottery shapes, a formal puzzle with limitless solutions. As a result, the challenge of making something new, a unique and compelling functional teapot, is a demanding one.
Ray Bub had been intrigued with the teapot format for some time before he took his Southern Vermont College class to the Bennington Museum to see the pottery collection. After that study trip, one student, Dylan Lawson, mentioned that he would like to make a ring vase similar to the 18th-century ring flask (made to fit around a man’s forearm) in the museum’s American folk pottery display. Bub showed him how to throw a hollow ring, then attached an oval base and a bottle neck. Soon, Bub started thinking about adding a spout, handle and lid to this traditional ring vase shape. The resulting teapot had an elegant and pleasing form, but was almost mute in its completeness. Bub’s first instinct was to give it a voice by adding some of the hand-sculpted animal figures he’d been putting on boxes. So he added a spotted jaguar to the lid, and perched another on the inside surface of the upright ring.
Later, he made his first reassembled ring teapot. When the hollow ring was at the leather-hard stage, he had cut it apart with a bow saw, planning to reverse a couple of sections to create a zigzag profile to the upright ring. But the open ends of the cut-apart sections were unmatching trapezoid shapes that would not reassemble into a symmetrical closed form. Unhappy that he’d ruined the ring and wasted the time he’d spent on it, he decided to try to salvage his investment, and began rearranging the arc sections in different ways. Immediately, he was intrigued by the visual possibilities.
|A ring is thrown by joining two walls at the top, trapping air inside.|
|When the ring is leather hard, it is inverted and trimmed.|
|Sections are then cut at various angles using a bow saw.|
The full article, from which this post was excerpted, appears in Ceramic Art: Innovative Techniques in the Ceramic Arts Handbook Series.
|The section is closed with slabs, traced and cut to fit each end.|
|When reassembly is complete, clay spacers and supports are added for stability during drying, then the form is positioned on a thrown oval base.|
|A handle is pulled from a lug attached to a ring section, then a thrown spout is shaped and attached.|
For more interesting handbuilding techniques, download your free copy of Five Great Handbuilding Techniques: Variations on Classic Techniques for Making Contemporary Handbuilt Pottery.
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