Serenity in a pot


POSTED: Friday, February 06, 2009

Born and raised in London, Charles Patten has great affection for tea—beyond the fact that he enjoys his daily dose.





        Ceramics by Charles Patten

» On display: Through Feb. 18


» Place: Louis Pohl Gallery, 1111 Nuuanu Ave.


» Valentine's Sweetheart Special: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. next Friday and Feb. 14


» Call: 521-1812



As a ceramist, teapots are among his creations. Patten spends countless hours at the wheel creating pots, handles and spouts.

“;The nicest part about teapots is having to assemble them, having everything fit together,”; he said.

The making of the individual pieces is relatively quick, but fitting them together is what takes time. “;For example, the spout can't be overpowering the body,”; he explained.

He even keeps two or three extra spouts on hand, in the event that the first one doesn't fit right or he's “;careless in cutting.”;

Patten combines his love of ceramics and his enjoyment of daily tea in the exhibit “;Simply Teapots,”; on display at Louis Pohl Gallery until mid-February.

The artist studied ceramics at England's University of Bristol, with postgraduate studies at Birmingham University. His schooling exposed him to all facets of art, from printmaking to photography, but when Patten tried out the pottery wheel, he experienced an instant fascination.

“;There wasn't any doubt for me—this is what I was going to do.”;

For five years after graduating, Patten taught ceramics at the high-school and college levels in London. A trip to New Zealand then led him in a new direction: crewing and sailing large yachts worldwide. “;Traveling has definitely enabled me to get a broader view,”; he said.

And he could not keep his hands away from the clay. During port stops he would search for studio space to work on his pottery.

Now a researcher for an Oakland, Calif., company, he is responsible for an 84-foot research schooner based in Honolulu. Now that he is grounded, he has joined the Hawaii Potters' Guild. “;I am enjoying using their studio in order to produce porcelain teapots, as well as a whole range of thrown ceramics in reduced stoneware clay.”;

All of Patten's works are captured in his sketchbook, where he jots down drawings of his finished pieces, with instructions on building, glazing and more. “;I know how it's going to come out. I plan it from start to finish.”;

Some of his pots reflect a design characteristic of teapots used in larger-scale English tea services. “;They always had large pots with two handles so you can pour lots of tea,”; he said.

He's learned to make the double-handled pots to a smaller scale so they fit in with his teapot collection.

Another tidbit he's learned: It's hard to re-create replacement parts. “;Each of the pots come with two lids,”; he explained. Just in case.

“;It's difficult to retrofit a lid.”;