Custom Order Tea Set

I have a really fun project to share today. A customer reached out to me and asked if she could commission me to create a very special tea set for a special friend’s wedding gift. I was told I could do whatever I wanted, She’d trust my judgement based on viewing my breadth of work. Well who could say no to that?

Now here are the very unique details given to me about the couple who would receive the tea set:

  1. They are avid hikers. Their wedding save-the-date card showed them hiking in their Patagonia fleeces.
  2. The wife-to-be was a theatre student.
  3. The couple just moved to Chicago to open a brewery called GNOME Brewery because the husband-to-be’s grandmother had a garden gnome collection they were honoring.

So this is where I began. A blank slate and a few key details. You have to start somewhere, so I started to brainstorm.

Here is what came to mind or better said, my thought process: Hiking>Woods>Pine trees>Stone Walls>Streams>Birds>Flowers>Fish>Insects>Garden Gnome?

Now it’s a wedding gift so naturally I think “Love”. I envision a tree in the woods with the couples initials carved into it. Next, I’m thinking I will make the handle and spout a tree and have leaves from the tree on the lid. At this point I have the concept down and begin to fill in some details from my own hiking excursions and images I would envision with a woodland theme. I add an Eastern Blue Bird. If you’re from the North East, they are always a delight to see. How about Rainbow Trout? They are the fish people like to catch in the streams out in the forest. I chose an owl for wisdom and because they are the guardians of the forest. For flowers and fauna, I selected butterflies, bumble bees, dragonflies, love birds and red wing black birds because they are my favorite birds to spot due to their red and yellow patches on their wings.

Here are some really fun videos filming the process. The first is raw clay, the second is the underglaze painting process and the third is the final glaze fired stage. Click on the teapots below to see the videos:

I was a nervous wreck through the entire process! When a piece of clay dries, is is REALLY brittle. Growing up culturally Italian, my entire family talk with their hands. Guess what? This is not a great attribute for a potter! Do you know how many times I have knocked off a handle simply talking? Through the entire process I was walking in slow motion, keeping my hands in my lap and holding my breathe through the two firings. I had put so many hours in, if something happened, there was just no way I could begin again.

Boy did it feel good to get this project to the finish line all in one piece. Ship this thing? Can you imagine? I’d lose sleep! Luckily I was able to meet with the commissioner for a safe transfer ;)

Here are some more photos of the process:

I learned a lot during this process and now I want to make some trays or wall hangings that feature hand carved images and texture. But alas, the holiday season is upon us, this will have to wait …There’s just not enough time in the day!

5 Comments

  1. This is by far, the most beautiful ever created.  I know all of the time and energy you had for this project.   Great job. Ellie 

  2. What a gorgeous gift this will be and so much symbolism contained in the very unique pieces you have created. Congratulations! (Don’t you just love those types of commissions? I know I do!).

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