Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Dread Teapot

I realize now, that I've outed myself as a Princess Bride fan. This is my second "Dread" post. I just can't help myself.

In the last eight years, I feel like I've become fairly confident about the forms that I throw regularly. Of course, I still have the desire to make things a little more perfect, more beautiful, just better...but I feel like I can take pride in the things that I do make well.

Teapots in progress: body, spout, lid. I can tell
now that I'll need to remake the spouts. Sigh.
But then there are the dread teapots. I've only made a few, and they humble me every time that I try to make one. A few friends have requested them over the years, but I never want to make them. They sit there on my to-do list, mocking me. But yesterday, I sat down and threw the components for several of them. And I was reminded again-- I hate making teapots. I may have even ranted a bit on my Facebook page about it. I absolutely ranted, I admit it.

When I think about why I don't like making them, it's easy to figure out why. I'm not good at them. Teapots are hard to make. Pretty much every skill set for a functional pot is present in a teapot.

-It's a lidded form. If I'm being honest, I also have to admit that I avoid making things that need lids. It's another thing that I need more practice at. But beyond just mechanics of making a good lid--getting the size and the shape of the lid right, getting the form right so it doesn't fall off when pouring tea, and creating a knob that suits the pot while also being functional. Oh, and of course, managing not to accidentally fuse the lid to the teapot while it's firing.

-It needs a handle. Handles I get, I've made lots, and I'm pretty confident with them on mugs an pitchers. But they're trickier on teapots. Getting the balance right is just harder. And teapots, the kind that I get the most requests for, are just heavier, so they need the handle to work as well as possible.

-Spouts. Ugh. This is where I feel the least competent. The shape, length, and angle of the spout are things that I just haven't yet mastered, even a little. And the spout needs to not dribble!

-There is also the intersection of adding all of these elements together in one me so many chances to mush or break it at any point.

-Finally, the challenge of finding someone to buy the tea pot that made it beyond all these issues without breaking it during packing/repacking for a dozen shows.

This is my one teapot that I felt comfortable enough to add to my show inventory. When I look at it now, I see all of its flaws as a functional teapot, but it was still a lovely piece. It was the most picked up item at all of my shows for about two years, but no one ever bought it. It finally ended up broken when I didn’t pack it quite right one night after a show. It was heartbreaking.

Needless to say, I'm a little bitter about teapots. Which is to say, I just need to practice them, just like I've done with all the other forms that I now feel comfortable with. The real issue for me is time. Teapots are time consuming, and at my current skill level, they don't sell. So I struggle with this. Although I want to get better at them, do I want to spend many many hours learning to get there?

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Taking time to count the pots...

Despite all my best intentions, I rarely take the time to take note of how many pots I have when I'm setting up or tearing down a show. My typical set-up routine--despite plenty of time--always has me arranging (and pricing that last batch of work from the kiln) up until opening time. And at the end of the show, there's just always a need to tear down as quickly as possible. And then the pottery lives in its crates until the next show. 

All of this means, that while I have a notion of which pots have completely run out, I rarely remember which pots and what colors by the time I'm back in the studio. And when the next show rolls around, I'm convinced that I'll never have enough work to fill my shelves, so I'm anxious and stressed.

After my last big show last year, I schlepped all of my crates into the house and inventoried. It took forever. The good part of it was that I ended up having a mini-home show for my friends, which was great.

I have come up with a new scheme, to help with this issue. This year, I've started taking a photo of all my shelves at the end of the show. It's pretty effective...not quite as good as a list, but WAY faster.