The Assembly of a Teapot: Parts to a Whole

Thought I’d give a few snapshots, for the curious, on the process of constructing a teapot.

Prior to the above picture, I have collected random items that pique my interest and have made molds of them out of plaster. The plaster is allowed to cure for at least two weeks. At this point, I pour in porcelain clay, in the form of slip. The plaster draws the water out of the clay, creating a thin skin which exactly replicates the form from which I’ve made the mold. After about 20 minutes, I pour out the liquid clay that has not hardened into the skin. After a few hours, the skin has hardened enough to remove from the mold. At this point, the consistency can be a little like a wet noodle, so I let it dry to a bit more stable state. This is what you’re looking at in the picture above.

The particular molds I’ve selected to make this particular teapot are:
body – a plum pudding cake pan
handle – a giant vintage teapot
spout – GE percolator coffee pot spout
lid – the same vintage teapot
reindeer – plastic Christmas decoration
feet- plastic communion cups

Once all the parts are made, I begin carefully hand building each piece onto its place on the teapot. The trick is to make sure each piece is securely attached, without distorting its form. At the same time, I am monitoring the water content, trying to keep the work wet enough to attach without cracking, and dry enough not to smoosh. I am also scraping, filing and sanding along the way, to remove the parting lines and imperfections from the molding process.

In this second picture, I have begun by attaching the spout, then the feet. Separately, I have attached the horns to the deer, and the deer to the lid, fitting the lid into the teapot.

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In the picture below, I have formed the handle from three castings of the same shape. This is the final shape, with the construction finished, except for refining and further sanding. At this point, it is like working with a thick eggshell. Not to be overly dramatic, but any fast, wrong move, and it turns to dust! After it is slowly dried, it will go through a bisque firing (1950°), be glazed and then glaze fired (2381°).

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detail lid/handle:

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