Banner: Porcelain Grace, Meryl Ruth, Fine Art



Her Majes-Tea, A Ceramic Teapot.
  • This hand-built ceramic teapot is the third in my Playing Card series, including Queen of T-Arts and The Queen's Tea-Yara. This work takes advantage of an exciting innovation in image transfer that I developed.
  • Heretofore, silk-screening has been limited to applying images to flat surfaces only.  Another constraint was the need to transfer images to almost-dry clay in the leather-hard state. The fact that the clay has to be so dry means there is no possibility of modeling the clay any further.
  • Thus all silk-screen surfaces have to be flat and to remain so during the remainder of the creative process for any given ceramic art work.
  • To overcome these obstacles to fulfilling artistic concepts, I undertook a series of experiments to find a method to make the dried flat clay slab, after it has been silk-screened, more pliable so that it can be modified, all without damaging the image.
  • This was accomplished by my discovery that the drying process leading to leather-hard clay can be reversed. The method is detailed in an illustrated Technical Note on this website [work in progress]. Briefly, it consists of proceeding with silk-screening on stiff flat leather-hard clay; soaking wet paper towels are then applied to the back (undecorated) side of the clay slab; the slab is enclosed in plastic for an hour; this makes the slab very flexible once again, yet with intact imagery on the silk-screened surface. Thus, it is now possible to work the piece by bending, twisting and otherwise modifying it as desired to give the piece much greater fluidity of form. 
  • The handle and the spout are made of hollow extruded clay and then altered to give them the shape and feel of arms. The front "feet" of press mold pastry tarts are also tweaked to form toes of pointed "shoes." The lid is made from one of the photo silk-screened clay slabs softened by wetting so it could be reshaped as a crown; small pieces of a press mold pastry tart become additional parts of the crown. A "royal robe" is added to the back of the teapot; it is made of very thin clay slabs, which are folded to resemble faux fabric folds.
  • Construction sequence:
    • Initially fired to cone 04.
    • Underglazes applied; clear cone 5/6 glaze painted on balls atop the crown and the flange at the base of the lid.
    • Black glaze to the inner surfaces of the teapot.
    • Refired to cone 5.
    • Layers of China paints are added.
    • Fired to cone 018 after each layer.
    • Gold luster to balls and flange.
    • Cubic zirconium added to base of crown at flange.
    • Overglazes finish the decorative aspects of the piece.
  • Displayed at Maine Arts Exhibits Annual Statewide Juried Virtual Gallery Showcase, Maine Arts Scene Magazine, 2012; Inspired Hands V, Maine Crafts Association Members Exhibition, University of Southern Maine, Lewiston-Auburn College, Atrium Art Gallery, Lewiston, ME,  2012; Texas Teapot Tournament, CAMEO, 18 Hands Gallery, Houston, TX, 2013.
  • Date: 2012.
  • Size: 15.5" x 16.0" x 5.0".
  • Available for purchase. Price: $800.



Enlarged view


Enlarged view, rear


Enlarged view of lid



After silk-screening clay slabs in leather-hard state, the clay is made flexible again by soaking the undecorated side.

  • Flat clay slabs are allowed to dry to the leather-hard state.
  • Then they are slik-screened with images of the front and back of the Queen of Hearts playing card.
  • When sik-screening is complete, the dry leather-hard clay state is reversed by soaking the back side.
  • This returns the slab to a flexible greenware state in which it can be modifed, as shown here, by twisting, altering or otherwise changing its shape to give it a much more fluid form.

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  • Two silk-screened clay slabs, one with the face of the playing card and one with its back image, are modified in shape and joined by score and slip method.
  • This creates a three-dimensional work from previously-flat clay slabs.

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Spout, handle, feet and lid added.

  • The spout, handle, feet and lid are fashioned and added.
  • The handle and the spout are made of hollow extruded clay. They are altered by hand to imbue them with the shape and feel of arms.
  • The front feet are also tweaked to provide them with pointed shoe-like projections.
  • Ready for its first firing, the work is successfully kiln fired to cone 06.

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Embellished work near completion.

  • Layers of China paints and lusters are added for embellishing the surface design and detailed coloration. The work is refired to cone 018 after each paint or luster layer, for a total of four firings, thus completing the piece.


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