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Monday, January 3, 2011

Kristin Williams' Beautiful Bird Teapot and Teacups

I know that to call something functional fine art is an oxymoron. By definition, fine art is a non-utilitarian object whose function is that it possesses a visual aesthetic worthy of appreciation. If it's functional it's either an arts and crafts, applied or decorative art piece. But, for me, Kristin Williams' ceramics fall somewhere in the middle.
I thought this curlew teacup in her "Birdartist's" shop on Etsy.com was one of the most beautiful pieces of ceramic work I'd ever seen. To me, it's a bird sculpture that happens to be a cup, not a cup that looks like a bird. So does that make it a fine or decorative art piece? From a personal perspective I feel like it's a bit of both.

Kristin described her teacup this way:
"This graceful teacup features the head of a curlew, a type of shorebird known for its long, down curving bill which it uses to probe in the mud and sand..."

...They really are special, whether bought singly or as a pair. Each has been made individually, not cast or press molded. Each has its own unique charm, differing slightly in color, shape, and proportion, but still matching nicely with the other and coordinating well with the teapot.

A teapot? Yes, it got even better. I discovered there was indeed a matching teapot and one additional teacup. Originally there were 9 complementing teacups and these were the last two left.

I loved everything about the pieces. Their rich and ruddy coloration, the gracefulness of the birds and the lack of uniformity in the glaze applications all blended into items so beautiful I couldn't stop thinking about them for weeks.

I've always been a fan of the concept that something can be made "more charming" by its imperfections and these teacups are the epitome of this sentiment. What to do? I rationalized purchasing them would support a small business owner and help the economy :) So after resisting the urge to make this want-not-need purchase for weeks, what was my tipping point?

My hubby gave me this super cool Breville Electric Tea Maker for Christmas! It has 5 preset water temperature settings for different types of teas and 3 preset steeping time options. Best of all there is a custom option where you can choose both the water temperature and the steeping time which is what I've been using to make my favorite Ryokucha tea.

As I enjoyed my first cup of perfectly brewed tea I decided, if they were still there, I should purchase the curlew teapot and teacups. I went online and was pretty stoked that they were still available! Kristin sent them promptly and packed them really well! And when I say really well, I mean REALLY WELL!

Each piece was carefully wrapped in bubble wrap and padded with foam where it was placed in the box so the bottom of each piece could better absorb any shocks. Each piece of tape was folded back over itself at the end to create a pull tab to easily remove it. Tabs were labeled and even numbered to make the unwrapping process easier.

The cup handles and the spout of the teapot were also padded with extra foam. I was quite shocked at how much time and care she used to pack each piece.

And it worked. They arrived from the east to west coast in perfect condition!

The cups were much larger than I had anticipated which was great. I thought I'd have to refill them frequently because I'd envisioned them being about half the size they turned out to be.

I'm thrilled to be a new collector of Kristin's work. The curlews have found a very happy home and I will treasure them always :)

You will also find Kristin's polymer clay "flower" hummingbird feeders and illustrated, weekly, Bird Art calendar in her Etsy shop



  1. the real trick as the artist is choosing a design that implies the drinker drinks from the birds rear-end or from the birds regurgitation. haha! but these are indeed beautiful pieces! i'll have to come over for tea, one day :-)

  2. That would be creative and some trick Andrew but I'm relieved Kristin chose a different direction :) And yes, I'll have to have you over for tea sometime!

  3. Hi Stacie, I wanted to add that as much as you love Kristin's bird teapot and teacups I can confirm that her flower hummingbird feeders are absolutely beautiful too. I have purchased 10 of her feeders and each is very unique and beautifully crafted. My hummingbirds love these feeders as much as I do and I found they prefer Kristin's feeders to any other feeders that I've used in the past. I receive so much enjoyment from seeing her feeders in my yard and even more pleasure watching my hummingbirds using them. I wanted to pass along this information to your readers as I like supporting artists like Kristin who take so much pride in their artwork.

  4. Hi Leslie, Thanks for the testimonial on Kristin's behalf. I don't doubt for a second the hummingbirds prefer her feeders to any other :)


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