Functional Ceramic Art reaches its quintessence when the potter achieves a well-balanced teapot that pours without dribbling, is not too delicate for use or too heavy to lift, and has a lid that does not tumble off while pouring. The well-crafted teapot also includes the basic design elements of artistic pottery.
In essence, a teapot is a covered jar with a spout and handle attached to it. The position of the spout and attachment of the handle are very important to the pot's functional success. A pot must not leak out of the spout when filled to the top, or dribble or spurt when poured. The shape of the body of the pot should be balanced, not too tall and not too squat. That is, the pot must have an adequate foot so that it does not fall over, and should not be so squat that it cannot pour correctly.
The placement and shape of the spout are, therefore, of utmost importance to its function. By shaping the spout in a funnel with a smooth inside and cutting it to precisely fit the body, with a tip that comes above the lip of the pot, a functional pot is achieved. I make a spout that is cut at the tip and flicked into a pitcher spout with a feddling knife. Although the tip of the spout is delicate, I find this pot pours best. The holes of the sieve should not be too small or too large. If the holes are too large, there will be tea leaves in the cup. These holes must be numerous or the tea will spurt out.
The skilled craftsman must make a strong handle juxtaposed 180( from the spout. The top of the handle should be above the body to lend support for the weight of the liquid and the pot. The walls of the pot must not be too thin or it will break in use. The pot should not weigh a ton, as all our tea drinkers are not Rugby players.
The lid of the pot must fit securely and not fall off whilst the pot is turned at a perpendicular angle. The shape of the lip of the pot can be flanged to secure the lid for pouring from 45( up to 90( without falling off. The lids of my teapots are of two varieties: a double flanged simple top that I make right side up, and a bell-shaped top that I make upside-down. Both tops are made off the mound. I bisque fire the tops in the pots to make certain of a proper fit.
Truly, the Chanoyu (Japanese tea masters) elevate the simplicity and functionality of the teapot maker to that of art. An aesthetic combination of the simple table with the teapot challenges intuition, reason and action. All the functional parts of the teapot must work together harmoniously. The decoration of the pot should not overshadow its reason for being. It is a pot for making tea. Loud and busy glaze decorations subtract from the simple essence of the ceremony of tea making and drinking. The challenge is great and much practice is required to achieve an elegant teapot which pours gracefully.
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