Teapots have been around for a very long time. And there are many, many, many different styles of teapots.
According to wikipedia.org, ” The teapot was invented in China during the Yuan Dynasty. It was probably derived from ceramic kettles and wine pots, which were made of bronze and other metals and were a feature of Chinese life for thousands of years. Tea preparation during previous dynasties did not use a teapot.”
The Yuan Dynasty was in the 12 and 1300s. So after 700 centuries, I’m pretty sure there are THOUSANDS of different types of teapots. But for this post, I’m going to focus on the few that I’m familiar with and know that I can make out of pottery.
This teapot is round and comfortable and you’ve probably seen one in every grandmother’s house. Its basic and simple design is familiar (in North America, probably England too) and reminds me of home. All parts of this teapot are wheel-thrown with the exception of the handle (which is pulled).
Here we have something with a modern flare. The bottom is sturdy and wide, while the top narrows in. A nice big spout makes the tea pour quickly, perfect for our contemporary constant state of rush! 😉 All parts of this teapot are also thrown on the wheel, except for the handle. I even use the wheel to scupt a tiny knob on the top of the lid.
The Genie Lamp
This might be my favorite teapot. It’s unique and interesting, with an unusual over-arching handle, and a quirky pointy knob on the lid. This teapot is also especially difficult to make because of the long handle – and that handle also makes this pot a little bit heavy. The body, spout, and lid are all wheel-thrown for this teapot style. For the handle, I make a coil, and I carefully dry it in stages, also very carefully propping it up above the rest of the teapot. It’s fragile and these kinds of handles can easily warp, but the aesthetics of this style of teapot just makes my heart sing!
This is a classic Japanese style of teapot. It’s designed to hold only a few small cups of tea, so it’s smaller and classy. It’s also very light and very easy to pour with the cone handle coming out the side. The design is very intentional – how nice to never have to scald your hands when trying to pour tea! Did you know that japanese teacups are made without handles intentionally? If a cup of tea is too hot to hold, it’s also too hot to drink, no? All parts of this teapot are also thrown on the wheel.
The donut style teapot can seem a little silly, but it can also have a very classy style with the right details and finish. I LOVE making this style of pot because it’s kind of challenging and fun. The donut part is made on the wheel using a closed form. I think I have a video of me making one of these – I’ll dig it up soon and publish it to YouTube and share the link with you! It’s hard to make this form but it’s also satisfying to accomplish a perfect donut! Then a spout is also thrown on the wheel, and then the lid. I add a pulled handle and a couple of little feet to keep the pot upright. It’s a statement piece for sure!
Another one of my faves, this one is completely cultural appropriation! The body and lid are wheel thrown, and the spout is too, then altered to get the curvy shape. The handle is a coil that I curl around into a decorative but functional thing to hold onto. With this design of teapot, I spend more time on the finish – hand carving detailed patterns into the body to give it that Middle Eastern aesthetic. This one is also a smaller teapot, serving 4 cups of tea at the most.
The Oil Can
A simple design, this one looks similar to a French press coffee maker with the straight cylinder body. I throw the spout and lid on the wheel, and make a nice coil handle with straight lines. I try to emulate a metal look by using a metallic glaze on this style of teapot. It’s also a fairly large teapot, perfect for sharing a cuppa with several friends.
With this teapot design, I kind of go wild. My favorite shapes are curls, so I integrate a lot of them into the teapot shapes and the decoration. Sometimes the curls are carved into the pot, some of the details are painted on. I could glaze this pot with bright colors or very, very subtle ones to let the forms and decoration speak for themselves. This pot can be made larger or smaller – there’s a lot of flexibility. Artsy styles may be synonymous with “quirky” styles in my book. And I love them.
The space-age (AKA futuristic) style of teapot may well be the opposite of the artsy teapot! Not much flexibility at all – it is designed with very rigid corners and angles. The base is triangular (it’s not easy to tell from my sketch), so the whole pot is made using hand-building techniques instead of on the pottery wheel. I roll out slabs of clay, then seal them together to form a nice big almost pyramid. The lid and handle and spout are also very angular. The finish is a flat pale, blue glaze that almost looks like matte sea glass. This is a larger teapot as well, and it tends to be a bit heavier because of all the corners. And it’s a little bit harder for me to make as I don’t do much hand building. But I do love a challenge! I think my parents still have my first space age teapot – I’ll see if I can get a photo of it for you to see!
The Very Round
I added this teapot to the mix because I think it’s kind of funny. It’s a style of teapot that’s cute and chubby and reminds me of something a hobbit might have in their kitchen. A nice round (full moon type) body, with a nice round lid, with a nice round knob, and a nice round handle. Round all the way! I could make this teapot smaller, medium, or larger. Lots of options with this style! It’s all made on the wheel – every bit except the handle, which is a coil (necessary to get such a perfect circular shape).
And of course there are many more styles of teapots, but these are my favorite kinds, ones that I’ve made before and that I’m comfortable recreating with shapes that are interesting and pleasing to me.
So tell me, of all these teapots, which one is your favorite?