Hello everyone. I am Fred Parker; a retired architect and potter living in Middle Georgia who makes (among other things) tea bowls and tea mugs. Victoria introduced me to TeaChat some time ago, and when the TeaArtisans group formed she immediately and graciously invited me to participate. I have enjoyed TeaChat immensely, and feel very fortunate to have the opportunities to discuss my work with such a knowledgeable group. I am also very much impressed by the work of other potters here. It is humbling to be in the company of such accomplishment.
I work in stoneware and porcelain. I fire in oxidation in an electric kiln. Stoneware is my workhorse; porcelain is my “heroin.” Although I accept it is an “acquired” taste, I favor unglazed stoneware because I like to exploit visual opportunities within the clay itself. I also love it because that is the way clay was used for centuries before glazes came into common use. My unglazed stoneware is fired to near complete vitrification. Consequently its performance is not unlike glazed ware. Unfortunately for me, I am one of a very small group who has this affinity for unglazed ware so I also glaze stoneware vessels – sometimes on the inside only.
Porcelain has a reputation among potters for being hard to get along with. I say it is my "heroin" because, in spite of its reputation it can deliver incredible “highs” when things go well. It can also plunge potters into dark pits of depression when they don't. I have boxes of porcelain failures in my basement -- each box representing much hard, tedious work. I keep them in the hope I can someday salvage something from them. Always, I go back to porcelain because I have to. I am careful to keep a supply stashed away someplace...
Here are a few example pieces I selected to give you a sense of teaware I have done. Other work is listed on my Etsy webshop at http://www.fredparkerpottery.etsy.com
although inventory might be low currently.
First, some stoneware tea bowls. One is completely unglazed; the others are glazed inside only. Those that are partially glazed also have a slip coating inside to render a lighter-colored base for the glaze to preserve its ability to showcase the tea’s color.
Next: porcelain tea vessels: the first is a traditional form, thrown thin enough to be translucent. The second is more playful -- a slightly altered vertical “goblet” form that was completely spontaneous and unplanned. I made it after throwing a series of very rigid, predefined pieces. The third is another very playful “goblet” form that was altered after throwing then glazed with multiple glazes.
Finally: two small glazed stoneware tea mugs. For me tea mugs are opportunities well beyond containment of tea. I want mine to entertain. They should precipitate reflection or simply remind their owner that it’s OK to color outside the lines occasionally. I spent many years in offices and know how mind-numbing it can be. I hope my mugs can bring a morsel of playfulness to someone's office cubicle or perhaps brighten a Monday morning staff meeting somewhere. If one causes someone, who would never allow herself to do it before, to enter through the “exit” doors at Wal-Mart I will be satisfied…
Thank you all for your interest in my work. I look forward to becoming a part of this group...