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?


  1. You could market them as flower vases. They are beautiful.

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