DATE: ca. 1745 (made)
PLACE: Staffordshire (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Salt-glazed stoneware, slip cast

This teapot takes the form of a crouching camel with a carriage (houdah). The camel’s open mouth forms the opening of the spout, while the handle takes the shape of an elongated, scaly marine creature. Staffordshire was at the centre of British ceramic production from the early 17th to the late 19th century and workshops used the abundant supplies of clay and coal in this area to produce earthenware and stoneware vessels. The area experienced a surge in the production of tea and tablewares when, in the 1720s, the British potter John Astbury discovered how to produce white or cream-coloured wares by adding calcined flint powder to the clay. Once glazed, these wares were the first truly ‘white’ English ceramics to resemble the highly fashionable Chinese porcelain imported into Europe at this time. This teapot is made from white salt-glazed stoneware, characterised by a glossy, translucent appearance that forms on the stoneware when common salt is thrown into a kiln during the hottest part of the firing process. The form was made using the slip-casting technique, which involved the use of a mould, a process which liberated Staffordshire craftsmen from the circular forms dictated by the potter’s wheel, and allowed them to produce vessels in imaginative shapes.