My niece Riley is about to have her first birthday, it seems like yesterday she was born and I can’t believe this day is already here. Her birthday theme is “onederland” and my sister-in-law asked if she could borrow a few of my teapots for decoration. I thought I would do one better and make her an Alice and Wonderland-themed teapot with two teacups for a birthday present.
I wanted to make sure I included every character in the original Disney movie, so I created a scene that wrapped around the teapot, a quick progression of the movie. I started on the right side of the spout and had the characters go in order of their appearance in the movie. Besides Alice, the characters that are seen throughout the movie are the white rabbit and the Cheshire cat. Because they are such important characters I decided to turn them into teacups.
I started with a tree that wrapped around the spout. I decided to do an upside-down, right-side-up tree. This means If you hold the pot upside down it looks like the top of the tree and the same if you hold it right side up. Essentially the roots on both ends turn into branches. I did this because Alice falls down a rabbit hole, and her world is turned upside down. I have her cat sitting on the upside-down side of the tree, to show where she started. From there I did the door, key, and cracker that made her grow. I then added the do-do bird sitting on top of the door.
From Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum I moved to the White Rabbit’s house with the lizard that tried to get Alice out of the house. I decided to include the White Rabbit a little further in my progression, because he is shown throughout the movie.
After the house and the lizard, I moved to the garden with the roses and pansies. This was one of my favorite parts of the movie growing up, and I wanted to make sure it was part of the teapot. Of course, the caterpillar had to make an appearance, and I have him towards the top of the pot, stretched out on a leaf, holding his hookah.
The Cheshire cat is a big part of the movie, and I knew I wanted him to be a big part of the pot. To do this I added him to the handle and had his tail wrap around it. Since the white rabbit is also a big part I have his pocket watch wrapping around the handle on the opposite side.
After the pocket watch I moved into the tea party, which celebrated all of the characters’ “un-birthdays”. Of course, I had to include the Mad Hatter, hare, and field mouse, this was another of my favorite scenes. In addition to having the characters I also included teapots and teacups scattered around to reflect the tea party.
I included minor characters as well as major characters, and one thing that has always stuck in my memory was the butter bread butterfly. Because this stayed with me since childhood and wanted to make sure it was part of Riley’s teapot.
Finally, the white rabbit makes an appearance on the teapot! I have him running towards the section with the dreaded Queen of Hearts. The chain on his pocket watch stretches all the way from the handle to his pocket, to make it look like it’s flying behind him while he is running. Above the white rabbit is the Queen’s rose tree, painted red by the black playing cards. They are shown holding paint buckets and brushes, looking awfully frightened because the Queen is approaching.
To finish the decor I have the King of Hearts, Queen of Hearts and the flamingos used to play croquette. Behind all of the characters, I have the colors progress from blue to pink to purple back to blue. I did this to show a progression of the day as well as a progression in the story.
To finish off the teapot I added Alice on top as the handle for the lid. She is the main character of the movie and is in every scene, and I thought there was no better way to include her than on top of everything, watching it all happen below.
I made the body of the teapot and the lid on the pottery wheel first. I then made the handle by hand and attached it by scoring, slipping, and blending the ends of the handle to the body of the pot. I have some characters painted on, others stick out, and some have a little bit of both. To create this effect I sculpted some characters and then attached them. To create the painted on affect I used underglaze, then coated the entire teapot and lid with clear glaze. Underglaze doesn’t move when you fire it, it stays exactly where you put it, which gives you the ability to paint designs.
I know a one-year-old won’t be able to play with a fragile ceramic tea set. But I hope it will be something she will cherish and have forever… and hopefully one day be able to use. I loved making it especially because it was going to someone I love so much!
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