by Andy Titcomb
Once the teapot design has been planned and drawn, I carve a model either out of clay or solid Plaster of Paris. From this I take a mould which can be anything from two to 20 pieces depending on the complexity of the shape.
The process I use to make the actual teapots is called slip casting.
The clay, although mined in Cornwall, arrives from Stoke on Trent where it has been processed and packaged. It is cut up into thin strips and mixed with water and sodium silicate, a defloculant (chemical that increases the fluidity of the slip without having to add more water), in a mixing machine called a Blunger to form a liquid clay.
The individual plaster moulds are then filled with the slip and left to stand for about 25 minutes (time for a cup of tea), after which the the slip is poured out again. Water is absorbed by the mould, leaving behind the basic shape of the teapot. The mould is carefully taken apart and the teapots are left to dry for a short while; they are then ready for fettling and sponging. Sometimes, handles and spouts are cast separately and joined together later using slip as a glue.
Using a scalpel I gently scrape away the seams left by the moulding process. I then sponge over these areas to make sure they are smooth and no traces are left. The teapot is decorated with under glaze colour and after thoroughly drying out it’s ready for the first firing, this is called the biscuit firing. (Temperature is about 1080ºc). The second firing is the glaze firing (temperature 1140ºc). The teapots are dipped in a bucket of glaze, which when fired will turn into a thin layer of glass and give the pot a water tight seal.
The third firing is the lustre firing, (temperature 840ºc) Gold and silver lustres are painted on by hand. The gold lustre contains real gold and the silver lustre is made with platinum and very expensive!
The whole process takes about 10 days.
Andy’s blog, Teapots Teapots Teapots, is a great place to learn even more ab0ut teapots!