The symmetrically spherical bowl of a wheel thrown teapot opens into a circle. The gallery runs around the circumference of that circle, and allows the lid to rest perfectly in place. A truncated conical spout further establishes the form. These three parts thrown on the wheel, with an added handle, are then assembled to form a basic teapot. More than that, it’s about getting those parts just right.
The wheel thrown teapot is a collection of graduated circular spaces and forms. Each radius diminishes, from the largest circular opening at the crown or foot of the bowl, to the solid circular form of the lid, to the base of, and then opening of, the spout. Circular opening, circular formed lid, then circular base and opening, each piece of this round geometry relates in size or proportion to the other, to create a perfectly interrelated form.
The use of calipers to measure the diameter of the opening of the bowl, can then be inverted to measure a snugly fit lid. Rulers work just as well to measure the diameter of the circular space and circular form, or a stick with a pencil line drawn on it. What matters most is the perfect fit -not too loose, not too tight.
Some potters offer that the spout’s length, from base to opening, can be measured as roughly half the diameter of the widest part of the bowl. This rule of thumb usually works in my favor. However, when it comes to measuring the diameter of the spout’s base and opening, I open and collar the clay until I see an echo of space in all of the parts. I know when it’s too small and when it’s too large. The base, the crown, the lid, the lid handle, all inform the diameter of the spout’s base and opening. The teapot’s circles echo throughout the pot.
The spout’s angle and its proportional relationship to the handle requires the final consideration in the building stage. Successfully wrestling the negative space that surrounds the pot can be rewarding when the form-to-space ratio produces the desired results.
Each time, when all is said and done, I hope I’ve made a pot that Goldilocks would choose.