African Giraffes Upright Ring Teapot

17" tall x 13" wide x 4" deep, cone 5 oxidation firing

Photo by Jon Barber

Often a simple decision can lead to a long and difficult process. When I decided to make an African Giraffes teapot, I had already modeled South American Jaguars; Asian Panda Bears; Antarctic King Penguins; African Elephants; African Highland Gorillas; African Black Rhinoceri; Hawksbill, Green, and Black Sea Turtles; Central American Keel-Billed Toucans; Pacific Puffins; Australian Kangaroos and Koala Bears; and Madagascar Ringtailed Lemurs and Chameleons. I still have a stack of animal picture books two feet high which I used for reference. The giraffes were the most difficult sculpting project I attempted, especially the juvenile giraffe sitting on the lid. I gave up trying to find a picture of a giraffe sitting down, and used a picture of an oryx to see how the legs folded and how they were proportioned. Modeling each giraffe figure took as long as making the ring teapot. When I biscuit fired the teapot, the large giraffe figure’s neck warped away from the top of the ring.
It took a full day to glaze each figure with the distinctive giraffe camouflage pattern. To make sure the giraffe’s neck bonded to the top of the ring in the glaze firing, I had to tilt the teapot back far enough on its base in the kiln so the giraffe figure’s neck would lean against the top of the ring. I glazed the teapot itself a green-brown matt glaze to suggest the African Giraffe’s diet of tall tree leaves. I was very pleased with this finished teapot, but I realized I was investing a lot of time and energy in technical and zoological issues, and I needed to be working more directly on creative ceramic art issues. This very challenging teapot helped move me in a more abstract compositional direction.

This teapot is held in a private collection in Roslyn, New York.


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