What’s New: Spouting Off

“Scandal,” meant to mimic old patchwork quilts and created from twined, waxed linen by Lois Russell.
“Scandal,” meant to mimic old patchwork quilts and created from twined, waxed linen by Lois Russell.

Very few utilitarian forms have inspired such heights of creativity as the teapot. Although each artist may start out with the same basic shape, the final interpretations almost ensure that no two are alike. Teapots are also a natural collectible. Gathered here is work by eight artists working with teapot forms that you might want to tell your customers about.

Handblown, melted, then fused glass “Hyacinth Teapot” by Bob Kliss of Kliszewski Glass.
Handblown, melted, then fused glass “Hyacinth Teapot”
by Bob Kliss of Kliszewski Glass.

For Lois Russell, working with fiber is something that runs in the family. Her mother, a professional weaver, encouraged her to sign up for a basket-making course. After one class she was hooked, and 11 years later she opened her own studio in Boston. Originally focused on crafting traditional pieces, her work has evolved into sculptural works built from “patches” of different twining patterns. “I can’t know what my work will mean to other people,” she muses, “but I hope it will provoke a thought.”

Bob and Laurie Kliss of Kliszewski Glass in Fresno, Calif., create handblown work that bursts with color and energy.We consider ourselves colorists, first and foremost,” they say, “and are endlessly intrigued by the ability of glass to convey pure colors.” To create his playful glass teapots, Bob blows each vessel by continually heating and reheating the piece up to temperatures of 1,000 degrees. He then melts and fuses the glass, working with it until it reaches the desired shape. In the final step, a brightly colored lip wrap is applied to the vessel rim.

“Sprung,” with sterling silver and brass wire handle, by Eileen Braun.
“Sprung,” with sterling silver and brass wire handle, by Eileen Braun.

“The theme of my ceramic work is growth,” explains Eileen Braun  of Dunwoody, Ga. Before committing to art full-time, Braun held jobs as an educator, manager-buyer for a museum gift shop and executive director of an art center and gallery. But with clay, she found her true calling. A 2014 NICHE Award winner, her trademark technique is surface embellishment—stippling, slip trailing and sgraffito—which provides a layer that not only encases and protects, but also lures the viewer with its tactile surface.

“Autumn Beckons,” in polymer clay and nearly 13 inches high, by Jeffrey Lloyd Dever. CREDIT: GREGORY R. STALEY
“Autumn Beckons,” in polymer clay and nearly 13 inches high, by Jeffrey Lloyd Dever. CREDIT: GREGORY R. STALEY

The polymer clay creations of Jeffrey Lloyd Dever tap into naturally occurring flora and fauna, but with a unique twist that has gained recognition for more than a decade. “All of my works are miniature sculptural studies,” Dever says. “The fact that they’re functional at all is almost incidental to the poetic qualities I seek.” The Silver Spring, Md., artist creates each work layer by layer, adding hollowware sections over reinforced armatures. This painstaking process results in a sculptural masterpiece.

“Mad Hatter’s Tea,” hand carved and painted by Janet and Jay O’Rourke. CREDIT:RYDER GLEDHILL
“Mad Hatter’s Tea,” hand carved and painted by Janet and Jay O’Rourke. CREDIT:RYDER GLEDHILL

Together, husband-and-wife team Janet and Jay O’Rourke, have a type of natural whimsy that translates directly into the work they create. Lively colors and magical themes predominate, and every piece is made from salvaged wood found near their Saint Petersburg, Fla., home. Each piece is a total collaboration, with Jay turning the form and Janet using it as a canvas. “We hope our work will make you smile—if so, our job is done.”

Violet floral teapot, in colored porcelain using a patterned block process, by Karen Orsillo.
Violet floral teapot, in colored porcelain using a patterned block process, by Karen Orsillo.

Karen Orsillo’s porcelain teapots unify her exploration of form, color and design into one gorgeous artistic statement. To create her signature patterns, Orsillo uses a unique layering technique in her Kittery Point, Maine studio in which stacks of different colored clays are formed into a “loaf.” The loaf is then sliced and reassembled in various ways to create blocks of unique patterns which are then used to form both functional and nonfunctional pots.

Twenty-five years ago, Rita Vali spent her days in a biotech lab and her nights at the pottery wheel. After 10 years of workshops and courses, she transitioned to pottery full-time. Her goal is to create functional work that combines a modern aesthetic and minimalism. “I’m fortunate to be working with clay, which is so wonderfully tactile and responsive,” she says. “It’s an alluring medium with enduring results.”

Vines teapot, a ceramic piece combining modern form with engaging surface decoration, by Rita Vali.
Vines teapot, a ceramic piece combining modern form with engaging surface decoration, by Rita Vali.

The work of Ryan Myers harkens back to the origins of the American Folk Art movement, with the creation of vessels that can best be described as contemporary “face jugs.” “I have always been interested in the human form,” he says. “It’s also a subject everyone can relate to.” The Wisconsin-based ceramic artist notes that his current work is an attempt to create sculpture that has implied function.

“Woodpecker” teapot, in clay and porcelain with gold, by Ryan Myers.
“Woodpecker” teapot, in clay and porcelain with gold, by Ryan Myers.

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