The Kid Should See This

Ceramic artist Michelle Erickson recreates an 18th-century agateware teapot

Recreating an 18th century artifact is a painstaking process that requires mastery of the medium, an understanding of esoteric artisanal methods, and lots of examination and experimentation. During her 2012 artist residency at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, ceramic artist and scholar Michelle Erickson took on that challenge.

Having spent much of her career studying 17th- and 18th-century pottery techniques, Erickson was able to deftly reproduce a Staffordshire agateware teapot, made around 1740-1760, from the V&A’s collection. It wasn’t easy, primarily because the original techniques are not well documented. She explains in The American Ceramics Society: “The replication of the processes presented here required nearly two years of trial and error research.”

Agateware isn’t made from agate but from colored clays that are layered, coiled, sliced, assembled, flattened, and press-molded to create and maintain their marbelized patterns. Erickson painstakingly demonstrates each step of the reproduction in the V&A video above.

Related reading: Swirls and Whirls: English Agateware Technology. Also: Japanese Neriage.

Related videos: Remaking an ancient glass fish at the Corning Museum of Glass, The Art of Carving, and A Continuous Shape: Stonecarver Anna Rubincam creates a portrait. Plus: More clay videos.

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