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
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
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