Christopher Dressers astonishing and beautiful silver tea pot was my inspiration. It was made in 1879 by James Dixon and Sons in Sheffield of electroplated nickel silver, glass with an ebony handle. My work, made with stoneware clay, utilises the core design feature: the square, within which a smaller square provides perspectives into the interior.
Working with drawings and my awareness of the practicalities of working with clay, I began to envisaged a series of square blocks, each with different portals to the interior. I also worked on representing the features of the tea pot: spout, handle, legs, lid, and the appearance of the materials.
I used slab construction to make a number of square blocks. Creating sufficient uniformity of size to facilitate unity within the piece was challenging. As the work developed I considered the communication implied the varied portals to the interior: open ended; half open/closed; enclosed channel; and blocked or maybe contained?
Sketches suggested ways to construct the blocks to allow one of them to be supported in the original diamond shape of Dressers tea pot. I opted for a white matt finish on the illustrated blocks created with underglaze and slip and choose a sparse Bauhaus-like illustrative style for the tea pot features. The fifth block represents the high-shine nickel silver finish with shiny glaze and a lacquered window in place of the original glass.
Support from my tutors and the technicians at RACC helped with negotiation of the firing and glazing process while comradeship has burgeoned between my fellow HNC class mates during the whole development and making process.
Working from a Dressers design was genuinely inspiring, I now appreciate his huge contribution to British design and how extensive his own influences were and I intend to further develop this idea.
Sheffield, England (made)
ca. 1879 (made) 1879 (designed)
Christopher Dresser, born 1834 - died 1904 (designer) James Dixon and Sons (maker)
Electroplated nickel silver with ebony handle
V&A collection reference number(s):