I am in no way a Speedy Gonzales when it comes to making most things out of clay. Making annual declarations, however, doesn't usually take very long. It's a great way for getting focused for the year and sets a course for goals and objectives. (My inner coach is showing.) And it's a means to discovering unexpected lessons embedded in a task or project that only reveal themselves in the doing. So here's where I'm headed in 2018 and why I'm glad I have a year to fulfill my declaration - Teapots. Yes, it's official "2018 - The Year of the Teapot."
Teapots are worth celebrating in the pottery world as evidenced in the picture above. This is "500 Teapots Volume 2," a book I bought for myself last year when I thought 2017 would be the year of the teapot. It wasn't. I'll save the reason why for a later post.
I don't own "500 Teapots Volume 1," but I would imagine it delivers its promise - 500 teapots - just as volume 2 did. That's 2 books, 500 pictures of teapots in each, for a total of 1,000 teapots. Let's say each pot could hold 16 oz. of tea - 2 cups. That makes 16,000 oz. of tea or 2,000 cups or 125 gallons of tea. That's an impressive amount of tea!
There are other books published in the "500" series for cups, bowls, and platters, but they're only in one volume editions. That shows you what a big deal teapots are in the pottery world. Five hundred teapots are just not enough!
What's extra impressive is that teapots are a little intimidating with all they ask of you as a potter.
Early in my brief potter's life, with little practice and a fair amount of error, I made 3 teapots. Comparing to our earlier measurements that amounts to a total of 48 oz. or .38 gallons of tea.
I considered this the start - my teapot initiation.
One of the three is now home to an aloe vera plant.
Another, I broke while washing off - nay, scrubbing off - freshly applied glaze before its final firing.
The third, I have no idea where it is. I'm going to guess it's gone back to the earth or teapot heaven or some suburb of the two. You'll see a picture of it below, taken not long before it left us.
None of these pots ever held a single drop of tea. My goal for this year is to make more TEApots than maybe-I-can-use-this-for-something-else pots.
Other potters have said "they're hard." Based on my first 3, I get it! Having had a fairly lengthy stage career before pottery discovered me, I feel confident in saying teapots are the musical theater of the pottery world. In musical theater there's singing, dancing, and acting. Teapots have their own triple threat challenge of spouts, lids and handles. They will take practice, lots of practice.
I remember when bowls were hard for me, but I've made a lot of them since the first ones. I don't get the knot in my stomach any more when I want to make one because I've had lots of rehearsal. I've gotten experience. If it fails, I often know why. I get more clay and try again with my new information.
Whenever I decide there's something that I want to make, whether it's the very first ever or the first in a long time, firsts take longer. It all takes time. There's always learning involved.
So I can trust the first teapot of the year will take the longest, knowing it's not about speed, but about getting the steps right - the choreography, the patience, the rhythm of practice.