Friday, January 27, 2006

Bonne Année du chien! Happy New Year!

I'll be back in Taipei on February 5 the latest. Wishing you a wonderful Chinese New Year!
Blog en vacance la semaine prochaine!

A Shou La Pei teapot and lots of cups.

3 classic ways of making teapots:

1. La pei is the traditional pottery technique where you put the clay on a revolving plate and then as the plate turns you can create an even round form (like demonstrated in the famous scene of the movie 'Ghost' with Demi Moore). Works best for bigger teapots. An example here.

2. Shou la pei, like in the picture above, is doing the same thing with your clay, but without the revolving plate. We use mostly the thumb to make a hole in the ball
of clay and then progressively make the walls thinner and thinner. (More in the July 2004 Archive).

3. Small Yixing teapots: the clay is spread (cut or pressed like pizza paste) evenly and thinly. This layer is then cut and the ends of both sides are joined together to make a cylinder. That's why there are junctions (more or less visible) with this method, as you mentioned.
I just found a better explanation here:

"The teapots are built by the hands of a single potter artisan, who beats a lump of prepared and aged clay into a flat sheet. The walls, bottom and lid of the teapot are all cut from the clay sheet, sometimes with the aid of templates. The pieces are assembled on a simple, hand-turned wheel, stuck together with a mixture of clay and water, the joints strengthened with a spatula. Round pots are beaten into shape, and smoothed out and polished with tools made of wood and buffalo horn.. "

None of the 3 techniques involves any machine in the modern sense, just basic tools. You can all call them hand-made, but the 'shou-la-pei' method (how about 'hand shaped' as a translation) is the one most deserving this name. Of course, primitive look doesn't always mean hand-made. But with the shou-la-pei technique I mentioned, this is the result you're most likely to get.

Nowadays, most (cheap) teapots are mass produced using molds...

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