Making a Ceramic Teapot and getting all the parts to work as a whole is not an easy task for a potter.
In my 30 years of teaching I have had a few students who come to their first class and say, “I would like to make a teapot.” I very nicely say, “well, maybe you will get to that after a year or so.” Under my breath I am saying… yeah and I want to go to the tennis court my first time out and play like a professional tennis player. Some people just don’t have a clue as to how difficult pottery is… and the teapot is the pinnacle… the culmination of many years of pottery making.
In my studio, teapots are made about once a year. I begin with making just two teapots, and bring them though to completion so I can gain insights with the finished product. I first make the body of the pot, then spouts and lids… extra spouts and lids, so I can mix and match to see what fits best for the body of the pot. Once the spout is attached, I fit the lid, then make and attach a handle. The teapots dry slowly under plastic wrap for a few days, then air dry for about a week. I fire them in the kiln twice, once to harden the clay, once to to melt the glaze. I have learned over the years not to judge a teapot before it is fired. A teapot changes in the firing… the clay shrinks, and proportions change. I want to make sure the form I have made functions properly, before I go about making a batch of them.
These are the questions I ask myself when the teapot comes out of the kiln…
Can the handle, handle the teapot, another words, does the teapot feel balanced?
Does the water pour out smoothly, or does it sputter, or drip?
Is the level of the spout high enough on the teapot so it doesn’t spill from the spout when it is full?
Does the lid fit properly? Is the lid flange deep enough, so it does not fall out when you tip it?
If the handle is on the top of the teapot, is there enough space to be able to take the lid on and off comfortably, and fill with water?
These are just the practical components of making a functional teapot. What about the aesthetic components. How do I make the teapot parts come together to make a whole unified, well balanced pot? (Which I will talk about in another post.)
Once I have checked off all of the above, I go back to the potters wheel and make a small batch of them with the insights that I have gained from those first two teapots… and the process begins again.