Feb 10th, '15, 22:44
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Re: 100 pots – A learning path

by Bok » Feb 10th, '15, 22:44

Thank you everyone for the warm feedback and the encouraging comments!
Will do my best to keep this story alive.
paul haigh wrote: One hint, however- the fatal flaw of a teapot is when the bottom of the spout is lower than the fill line of the water. If the pot is filled, it will flow out the spout at rest. Raise the spout end up a bit, IMO.
Paul, thanks for the hint. At the moment, there is water in the spout of my pots when filled, but it does not leak out. In my understanding that is the case with most chinese pots, unless I understood your comment?

Some people here in Taiwan, tilt the pot a little to empty that little water out, before emptying the tea into the pitcher, in order to avoid that this little infused part dilutes the whole brew.

From what my teacher taught me about the symmetry of a (chinese) teapot,
The top of the spout should align with the top of the lid-less body. If the bottom part of the tip of the spout still aligns that is also still ok, although not ideal. In terms of chinese harmony the part where the handle is attached to the body should align with the spout, but this is not a necessity and can be ignored to allow more artistic freedom.

I did a few drawings to illustrate that.

The other points he mentioned is two basic types of waterflow, see ilustration in the middle.

On the far left is something he directed my attention to that is important for the usage. If the spout is placed to high, one has to tilt the pot to much to empty all the water out, which means one has to lift and twist one’s arm and wrist, which is ending up not looking very nice (showing armpits) and not comfortable. If one does not do that, water might stay in the pot and influence the brew in a negative way.

So far my understanding – please feel free to correct me or add your points of view and experience!
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Feb 11th, '15, 01:00
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Re: 100 pots – A learning path

by Bok » Feb 11th, '15, 01:00

Along comes number seven. Not particularily happy with this one. Had some problems with an overly long spout, cut it short, which resulted in a funny shape.

In this one I tried a different handle type. Most are thicker on the top part, which I reversed. I also “pimped” it up a little by adding a traditional reef-knot ribbon to secure the lid to the body. Normally I would want to appreciate the pure form of the pot, but sometimes a little ribbon can add a nice touch…

Glazing around on top around the lid is also not ideal, the unglazed interior should not be visible. Had to grind quite a lot too, to make it fit.
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Feb 11th, '15, 01:09
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Re: 100 pots – A learning path

by Bok » Feb 11th, '15, 01:09

Eight is something a little different in terms of style, less classic. Although I like the look of it, it does not perform perfectly when brewing tea. The opening is too wide, so flavours and heat evaporate to quickly when adding water.

Handle is also to wide, so not ideal to handle. What my teacher mentioned is also that the handle would benefit from a little “shoulder” on top, so one finger can get a better grip.

What you can see nicely in the close-up is the tiny cracklings that appear from the use. With this particular white glaze, those cracklings will get more and more and cover the whole pot. So far it is my favorite glaze, as it ages beautifully with prolonged use.
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Feb 11th, '15, 01:13
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Re: 100 pots – A learning path

by Bok » Feb 11th, '15, 01:13

An intermediate observation – so far all the pots pour water quite well, fast and in a nice water curve. So I seem to get that part right.

Key is here to have one hole exactly in line with the exit of the spout. If misaligned the water flow has turbulences, which results in an irregular pour.

Feb 11th, '15, 02:38
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Re: 100 pots – A learning path

by Bok » Feb 11th, '15, 02:38

Nine was a total failure…

It was one of those days when everything did not go smoothly, the raising of the basic parts was not steady, so I had bad material to begin with. On the day I put it together I had another bad one: Spout too long, cutting short gone wrong. Lid trimming goes wrong, not really solving the issue with a manually added akward knob.

It also does not pour well, the aforementioned alignement of the holes and the spout exit do not coincide. Spout opening to large, so it cools down quickly, this one is going to the bin…

I noticed that, as a layman potter, a bad day at work or general unwellness or tiredness results in me not being able to raise steadily. My inner out-of-balanced-ness is reflected in the shape I am creating.

To put it otherwise: If I am not centered, I can not center the clay on the wheel properly.

That probably goes away with increased practise and experience, I don’t think professional potters can afford to pass on the days they feel stressed?
Would be an interesting question to the experienced artisans, on how they deal with those issues? What helps me (sometimes) is using breathing techniques from my martial art studies. More often it is just a matter of calling it a day.
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Feb 11th, '15, 03:06
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Re: 100 pots – A learning path

by Bok » Feb 11th, '15, 03:06

Last one for today and to finish on a better note: Pot number ten.

Most important part first – it performs not bad when brewing. Nice and steady pour and a good size for up to four people (I only brew gong fu).

It is another one of those, where the lid went “flying saucer” to let me know that it is done getting trimmed :mrgreen:

Handle too wide, although ok-ish for someone with large hands.
The shape overall is a tad extreme, lid overlapping (closing tight though), the spout makes me think of… well you figure it out :mrgreen:
Altogether a bit too eccentric for my taste.

A word on lids: My teacher taught me that the pot-lid is ready once you can hold the pot filled with water up-side down, finger on the airhole of the lid knob and no water drips out.
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Feb 13th, '15, 00:46
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Re: 100 pots – A learning path

by Bok » Feb 13th, '15, 00:46

Eleven is the pot I am most happy with until now. A nice smooth dragon-egg style.

The handle would benefit from a lift upwards, so it is better to hold.
It would also probably look more harmonious if the upper part of the handle would be a tad thicker.

Tea brewing works well, although it is too small for more than two thirsty drinkers :lol:
The overall size would allow for more space, if I would have only managed to raise the walls thinner…

I also noticed that it is getting easier to attach the spout. Still sometimes hard to get the right moment in terms of dry/wet balance of the clay, when it is easiest to attach it. Here in Taiwan that changes due to the season (elsewhere as well, I suppose), in Winter the clay stay longer wet, which we help us with a fan to speed up.
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Feb 13th, '15, 00:58
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Re: 100 pots – A learning path

by Bok » Feb 13th, '15, 00:58

Twelve is a little different. My wife (who is also learning pottery with me), asked me to do an English-style teapot. Their style also is inspired by Chinese teapots of course – nonetheless.

So this one is slightly larger than what I am comfortable to use for gongfu-style brewing, but for Taiwan Hong Cha it will do just fine (although those amazing black teas here are also brewed best gongfu).

I chose a brown glaze form my teacher sortiment, which came closest to the typical English working pot that you get in many Tea places in London.

One challenge was to raise the spout, which had to be longer for this style. To raise a long skinny spout is still difficult for me, so I settled for whatever length I managed that day. Spout is at the limit of height, would be better a tad lower.

Again, I overdid it on the handle and made it too long. It is ok, if one uses only the handle to serve, but too far if you are used to control the lid with one finger as I am.

The clay was still very wet when I was trimming, which is why I resorted to a little trick I learned for trimming the bottom: Instead of trimming it with a tool, I used the finger to gentle push the bottom in a tad. Enough to avoid creating a breaking point during usage, when the bottom would stay completely flat.
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Feb 13th, '15, 01:06
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Re: 100 pots – A learning path

by Bok » Feb 13th, '15, 01:06

It will take longer until the next update, need to wait until the next batch is ready… pots 13 awaits glazing and I raised two more yesterday, which hopefully will become 14 and 15 :mrgreen:

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Feb 13th, '15, 01:15
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Re: 100 pots – A learning path

by Jaymo » Feb 13th, '15, 01:15

Thanks for posting all your progress through this journey of yours! I recently started learning to throw on the wheel and aspire to one day be able to make cool little pots, among other things, as well!

Feb 13th, '15, 03:54
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Re: 100 pots – A learning path

by Bok » Feb 13th, '15, 03:54

Your welcome! Keep going, it is worth it. At the latest when you first drink tea, brewed in your own pot, from your cups :o

Once you get started, you realize one can make almost anything for the perfect tea experience. Not to speak of the houshold items – but my wife is taking care of creating those more useful things :mrgreen:

It is a long path and can be frustrating at times…
I still remember those few weeks I spent learning on how to do the spouts just to throw them away afterwards.

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Feb 13th, '15, 07:49
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Re: 100 pots – A learning path

by Drax » Feb 13th, '15, 07:49

Wonderful stuff, Bok! "Flying saucer" seems like an apt term... :lol: very distinctive, though.

If you keep using some of the white-glazed pots, it would be neat to see a picture of how the staining of the crackling develops.

Feb 14th, '15, 03:22
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Re: 100 pots – A learning path

by Bok » Feb 14th, '15, 03:22

Thanks Drax!
I will make sure to keep that in mind and post a picture when the change is beginning to show.

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Mar 16th, '15, 23:06
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Re: 100 pots – A learning path

by Jaymo » Mar 16th, '15, 23:06

Have you made any more pots recently? I made my first try a couple weeks ago and while I've got a long way to go, I was enjoying your documentation of your teapot journey!

Mar 17th, '15, 05:13
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Re: 100 pots – A learning path

by Bok » Mar 17th, '15, 05:13

Actually, yes! Numbers 13-16 are trimmed and assembled, waiting for glazing, but I guess it will take some time until more pieces are assembled for a firing…

But- even more exciting: One pot is being wood-fired as we speak :D
My teacher sometime allows students to put one piece in. This time I was lucky enough to have a teapot in! Can’t wait to see the result – although it is a risk, you never know what happens in those wood-firings…

I’ll keep you posted, once it is out!

Are you going to show us your pot? :)

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