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Making Functional Ceramic Teapots

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