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How to Make a Tea Cup

November 20, 2011

This is one of my favorite tea cup forms to make because of the graceful lines and alteration with the rib. As you can tell from the last post using the rib to make a ruffled texture is one of my favorite things to do. Creating the foot as you throw also saves time because you do not have to trim the bottom later.

The cup is begun as always with a well centered piece of clay. As I open the clay I make sure not to pull out very wide so that the bottom of the cup will be slender. I also make sure to leave a quarter inch of clay at the bottom so the base will not crack or get too thin.

As I pull up the clay I create a cylinder shape by pulling up the clay evenly and straight. The cylinder shape allows the clay at the bottom to be pulled up so that the piece is not too heavy. The difference between a good piece and a great piece is one that is not too heavy.

Using the rib to create a foot instead of trimming saves a lot of time. After the clay has been pulled up I use my finger to create an indentation for the foot at the bottom. Then I use the rib to continue to shape the foot while I push out the clay to create the outward curve of the cup. This creates a nice slopping line.

The tea cups I have made previously look nicer when the shape of the cup is more rounded because the ruffles have more shape. So I use my rounded red rib to create a rounded shape. While pushing out from the inside with the red rib I support the outside of the cup with my right hand. This creates a subtle sloping line from the bottom to the top of the piece.

Once I am happy with the shape of the cup I now use the wooden rib to create the ruffles. While pushing in from the outside with the wooden rib, I place my fingers inside the cup on either side of the rib. As I push into the clay with the rib I press outward with my fingers to round the clay beside the rib mark. This gives the ruffles more shape.

The finishing touch to any cup is the rim and can make a piece look polished or so-so. Creating the shape of the ruffles always makes the rim uneven so I press the rim back into place with the tips of my fingers. The nice shape of the rim is created by tilting my pointer finger at a 45 degree angle. Now all that is left is to let the piece dry and put on a handle.

Some of these cups I made with a whole in the bottom and turned them into a lamp! Throwing the tea set was fun, but figuring out how to put the lamp together has been a pain, but I think they came out pretty well!

I fired the rest of the cups in the salt kiln and they came out great! Thanks to the glazes on the other pieces in the kiln my cups got a dash of pink where ever the flame hit them.


From → Pottery Projects

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