Often, when I get to pottery class, either hand-building or intermediate wheel, I don't really have a plan for what I will be doing. I get there and I let the clay speak to me. Or perhaps a better way to put that is that the clay and my hands have a conversation, and eventually something emerges.
But this Tuesday morning, in my hand-building class, I arrived with an idea. It wasn't a fully-formed idea, but I knew that I had two prepared slabs of leather-hard clay to play with, having made them at the end of the previous Tuesday's class. The idea was pretty basic -- make a boxy teapot.
I decided to use a shape I'd stumbled onto during my last hand-building class in the Spring. I'd made a template which was essentially a rectangle with one of the ends narrower that the end parallel to it, so that the shape (and I am sure there is a name for it, but I can't at the moment think of it) tapered toward that end. I used this template to make four pieces of clay which I then joined into a four-sided form. But instead of joining them narrow end to narrow end, which would have resulted in a sort of truncated pyramid shape, I decided to alternate the order, flipping each successive slab so that the narrow end joined with a wider end. I'm probably not articulating this too clearly. But the result was a very intriguing geometric shape which pleased me greatly, and I went on to make several hand-built pots using this technique. Here's an example from that last class:
Anyway, I thought it might be fun to do something similar to build the body of this slab-sided teapot, although the shape I had in mind was less vertically-oriented and more squat -- as teapots generally are.
It came together pretty quickly. Once I'd textured the slabs (using two small carved wooden rollers TIffany has in her studio, part of her extensive selection of texture tools), I traced the shapes with the template I'd made onto the slabs and carefully cut them out.
Once I had the basic body shape, complete with base, I had to make a top with a lid, and decided to go with a long rectangular lid, again made from pieces of a textured slab.
Then it was on to the spout, which came out a little funky -- I think I was rushing a bit, and didn't consider its shape carefully enough… so it isn't exactly centered or straight. But at least it i positioned at the right height, thanks to TIffany stepping in and reminding me to keep that in mind (I'd made a teapot previously with a spout poorly positioned, making it impossible to fill the pot more than two-thirds full without tea beginning to spill from the spout).
For the handle, I'd considered building an angular shape out of the slab, but ultimately decided to try something a little different, carefully (so it wouldn't crack) curling a piece of the softer slab into an half-cylinder shape, then cutting fingerholds into that once I'd attached it.
Will it all work as a teapot? Will the handle be comfortable to hold? Will the spout dribble or flow? The jury's still out. But it was a lot of fun to build. -- PL