Saturday, April 2, 2011


"You can never have too many eagles," Jason Robards says in the wonderful movie A Thousand Clowns. Can you also never have too many teapots? Looking around my kitchen the other day I was thinking that I possibly just might.

I can't quite remember where the charming big-bellied number pictured above came from. It has a 1930's look to it, but doesn't pour well. It says "U.S.A." on the bottom, which was a way to let buyers know, right after WWII, that it wasn't "made in Japan".

My husband painted one of my teapots, was it for an exhibit? What's wrong with my aging brain? My husband and his painting buddy Stapleton Kearns are on their way to paint in Texas for a few weeks, so I can't ask him.

When I moved to Maine twenty-three years ago, one of my first exploratory trips was to the gorgeous town of Blue Hill. I discovered a pottery shop called Rowantrees. The pottery was made on the premises with Maine clay. It was founded in 1934 by a woman who had been to India and met Gandhi. When she asked Gandhi what she could do for the people of Blue Hill, he told her to start a pottery. So back she went to Blue Hill and started Rowantrees. The White House has a set of Rowantrees dinnerware, bought by the Eisenhower's. The designs are charming, but the pottery closed last year. Still, that's a pretty long run. Andrew Phelan, the son of one of the potters who worked there, wrote a history of it Following the Brick Path: The Story of Rowantrees Pottery.

There is a wonderful English teapot called a "Brown Betty" which this is not, but I have seen the same design in a British movie. Either a Miss Marple mystery or The Secret of Roan Inish, I think.
This is a plain, inexpensive, "made in Japan" or perhaps China, teapot, but I love it and use it often. If I am home, I drink a pot of tea in the afternoon. There are people who don't like hot liquids. I don't like cold liquids.

The interior basket is perfect for Lapsang Souchong.

My wonderful aunt, who passed away last year, bought this very silly teapot for me on the sly after I laughed at it in a store in California.

My friend Sally gave me this delightful art deco number. It says "coorsite No. 920" on the bottom, which means it was made by the H.F. Coors Pottery.

I have never made tea in this silver German teapot inherited from my grandparents. It belonged to my great-grandmother. My grandparents fled Germany before World War II and I am not sure how this teapot came to be in America. Like most immigrants they arrived in this country with nothing. My grandmother was very modern. She was a Freudian psychoanalyst and loved Danish modern design and modern art. I never saw her use this teapot.

I found this French teapot at Village Books in Washington, Maine and fell in love with it.

The teapot below was given to me by my mother. It is a from a child's tea set and has the phoenix design on it.
This is a very large teapot from my father, handmade by a potter in the Northwest.

I believe this is Japanese. There is a word for the type of unglazed pottery this is, but I can't find it right this minute an the web.

Here is another unglazed Japanese pot.

I have never made tea in either of those beauties above. But the one below I use all the time.

Arthritis in my thumbs has kept me from knitting for awhile. It seems better now, so I will pick up the needles again soon.

Also, I just began teaching a course on Shakespeare and the Renaissance at the Senior College in Belfast, Maine. I LOVE it!

Hope to see some of you on Saturday, April 30th at the Connecticut Sheep and Wool Festival!
- Kathy


Purple Fleece said...

Will you invite me to your next tea party?

Knitting Out Loud said...

How about afternoon tea, sherry, knitting and spinning!

Diana Troldahl said...

I don't think that is too many teapots :-}
Each one had such a nice story attached! I used to collect teapots but had to downside for a move. I have one lovely white teapot shaped somewhat between the Brown Betty and the French one.
I miss my unglazed Japanese teapots, though, and may begin collecting again when we move to larger quarters.

ColorJoy LynnH said...

I just counted 18 teapots in this house (I counted a set of two matching ones with one tray, as two pots).

Mine are mostly Hall teapots without embellishment (only a few of collector quality)... some wartime/depression, some modern. I have two from my matriarchal side of the family, and a few I bought to actually use.

When I move, the last thing I pack up is the teapot collection. When I unpack, the pots come out first. They make a place a home.

And we won't talk about the pitchers. Or sugar/cream set, or salt shakers... or chrome toasters. Some of those were my hubby Brian's when we met, some were mine.

We have what Brian calls a "kitchen museum." If we gave up the pretties, we'd have 3 more shelves for storage. I love the pretties.

Thanks for the post. Thanks to Diana for letting me know you'd posted about this favorite subject!


Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

You do have a lot of teapots - LOL I love them all and the story behind Rowantree pottery is amazing too. The Japanese teapots are very similar to Chinese in style.

Enjoy teaching your class and I hope your thumb allows for some knitting too :)

Knitting Out Loud said...

Thank you all for your wonderful comments!

There is something comforting about teapots (yes, and pitchers too), like a fire in the woodstove or a basket of yarn and knitting.

raining sheep said...

They are fabulous. My favorite - the third picture from the top, that gorgeous green pottery one with the leaf on the lid.

t does wool said...

gorgeous collection...fabulous they are!

Knitting Out Loud said...

Thank you, raining sheep and t does wool!

And now on to the tea...

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Dear Kathy,

I loved getting to meet some of the charming teapots in your life...what is it about teapots that touches some of us so deeply? They feel like home to me and I have nothing but tender memories of grandmother pouring tea for me (much more half and half than tea), and my other grand telling me that, "tea always tastes better when it comes from a brown pot."

Thanks for the posting...wonderful!

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

P.S. are you going to be showing at the Kneading Conference again? We've thought about doing it and featuring my books too. Any comments?

Knitting Out Loud said...

Sharon, thank you for your lovely reminiscence. I think I've heard the "brown pot" theory before! Of the two really memorable cups of tea I've had, one was in the basement cafe of the British Museum - and I was just exhausted and very happy to be there, and the other was on a hot hot summer afternoon on Vinalhaven in my mother's kitchen with a friend. We had just bought gladiolas and had found a tin of Tippy Assam tea.

YES, I am going to be a vendor at the Bread Fair again. It was such a wonderful fair, and we did very well. I bet you would too.