Taj Mahal Screen Upright Ring Teapot
17" tall x 17" wide x 4" deepPhoto by Jon Barber
When you click on the Private Collection Teapots Page for the Jet Black Upright Ring Teapot, you will read that when I made that teapot, I was “…going back to older ideas and reviewing them in light of what I had learned since that earlier work.” This Taj Mahal Upright Ring Teapot was inspired by the Jet Black Upright Ring Teapot, which I had made 7 years earlier while contemplating the twelfth century Hindu “Shiva Nataraj” bronze sculpture depicting the goddess Shiva dancing in a ring of flames. Close friends had recently returned from a trip to India, which included a visit to the Taj Mahal. While describing this wonderful inspired architectural, sculptural, and artistic mausoleum, they mentioned that the tomb inside the Taj Mahal building is surrounded by a carved marble screen.
I know that my reassembled ring and upright ring teapots deal more with sculptural ideas about the teapot form than the process of brewing and serving tea, so I decided to “trap” my upright ring teapot idea, including the handle, lid, and spout, in a carved/pierced ceramic screen. I completed the upright ring teapot, then filled the inside of the ring, and enclosed the outside space in and around the handle, spout, and lid finial, with solid ¼” thick leatherhard clay slabs. I had to do a lot of careful edge-joining to complete the slabwork outside the ring. I then carved an abstract flowing pattern through the slabs with an x-acto knife, keeping the parts of the teapot I was not carving damp by wrapping them in drycleaner plastic and periodically misting the slabs. After drying and biscuiting the completed teapot, I poured our glossy opaque white glaze over both sides of the teapot, paintbrushing missed parts and fettling off thick drips and runs. I then handpainted both sides of the teapot body and lid with our pale green glaze, followed by handpainting both front and back surfaces of the pierced screen with our pale lilac purple glaze. I completed the glazing by handpainting the carved-through edges of the slabs with our bright yellow glaze. The glazing process alone took three long afternoons.
I thought for sure that I would have to re-fire the teapot after the glaze firing because of glaze crawls, but the glaze surface came out perfectly with no flaws after only one firing! The yellow highlights on the carved screen edges really add visual interest to this teapot sculpture, because they are almost invisible when viewing the teapot straight on, but they glow golden when viewing the teapot from an angle. I am very pleased with my achievement in imagining, then making this teapot.
This teapot is held in a private collection in Aiken, South Carolina.