Goldilocks teapots



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.

Altered wheel-thrown form

After seeing a wheel-thrown altered pot on Pinterest, I wanted to try making a few. I threw a form on the wheel with about 4lbs -5lbs of Standard white stoneware clay and after each form was leather hard, used a needle tool to mark the four corners of where the cuts would be created. A fettling knife was used to cut out a little square and then stamped with one of my home-made clay stamps. Then I used the needle tool again to mark 8 holes – 4 holes outside the cut shape and 4 holes, one in each corner of the little cut out square. I made sure the holes were large enough to allow for passing twine through after firing shrinkage. Then I replaced the cut-out shape into each wheel-thrown form and allowed the clay to dry. After bisque firing, I applied underglaze to the cut-out shapes on both forms and when they were dry, applied a coat of wax resist. I also applied wax resist inside the openings created with the needle tool to prevent the glazes from accidentally getting ‘brushed’ into those 8 holes. Next, I applied underglaze to the pot rim and base (shown on left), allowed it to dry and applied clear transparent glaze over the whole pot surface. For the pot on the right, I used Amaco Textured Tan glaze very loosely and unevenly applied. After glaze firing at cone 5, I used garden twine to ‘tie’ the shapes to each form. This was clearly an exercise in procedure and now I’m stoked to try variations on this idea of an altered wheel-thrown form.