The Teapot as Sculpture?

No matter what useful object there is out there, some artist can take it over and make it into something extraordinary. The teapot has been a key subject over the centuries for such makeovers. And taking it a step further to the sculpture stage seems to be quite the rage. I’ve certainly come across a fair number of these in my “travels” around the internet, especially sites that focuses on sharing pictures.

3 examples of teapots transcending to the sculpture category (from Pinterest)
3 examples of teapots transcending to the sculpture category (from Pinterest)
  1. Hull Ebb Tide Teapot Found on images.replacements.com
  2. A very sculptural teapot found on new.artbash.co.nz
  3. James Diem’s teapot sculpture from the 2013 Utah Arts Festival

When transcending a teapot from function to form, from steeper to statue, from kitchen necessity to décor frivolity, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it needs to retain the essential elements of that teapot that is its heart and soul. That means there must be a handle, a spout, an interior cavity to hold liquid, an access to that interior, and of course a way to sit upright. Second, it must in some elevate the form above the function, emphasize the aesthetic over the practical, look so delightful, beautiful, or just plain unusual that you wouldn’t think of it first as a teapot but as a sculpture.

The line between objectified teapots and these teapot sculptures can be pretty ephemeral, shifting, and impossible to define in any very straightforward manner. It’s the sort of thing about which you say “I’ll know it when I see it.” Sadler is the example that comes quickly to mind here. They do teapots shaped like Big Ben, cottages, Henry VIII, and so on. The style, colors, and overall designs keeps these from making that transcendence to sculpture. But their usability and quality make them very collectible!

A final word on those teapot sculptures: if you see one you like and can afford it, go ahead and buy it. A tea lover can never have too much tea paraphernalia around.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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7 thoughts on “The Teapot as Sculpture?

  1. bebe croteau

    how about a sculpture designed tea kettle…i have a michael graves tea kettle, (electric, whistling, cordless) which i love

      1. bebe croteau

        the michael graves kettle that i have is white plastic ..i cant even find a picture of it online anywhere ..i have been using it every day for ten years at least ..i think that it was made by black and decker, but designed by michael graves, and it has his signature on it ..if i find a pic of it online, i will post …

      2. A.C. Cargill

        Wow…that is certainly stylish, but too useful to make that transition to sculpture. Enjoy heating your water in it for that tasty tea!

      3. bebe croteau

        yes, i have been using the same tea kettle for over a decade now … it is very useful, and so as you say, its not really sculpture… what i like about it is that it has a whistle, which is unusual in an electric kettle, and it is also cordless ….. this is the only kettle that i have seen with those three qualities, and it has 1500 watts ..

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