Tea Stack, 1970-75
41" x 14"
Collection of Doug Haynes
This large vessel is an excellent example of Reitz's work from the early 1970s. During this period Reitz was at the height of his exploration of salt-glazing, firing his work at his home and studio in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and presenting workshops around the country. A pioneer in the revival of this technique, Reitz loved salt-glazing because--unlike conventional glazes--it creates a thin, subtly textured surface that enhances the gestural quality of the marks he made in wet clay.
The neck, foot, and two halves of this piece's egg-shaped body were thrown on the wheel separately, then joined together. Reitz scraped the body smooth, but left the thick, fluid throwing rings visible on the neck, extending them down over the shoulder as these two sections were joined. The extravagantly pinched "handle" and comically diminutive "spout" dramatize the transition and ally this large, obviously nonfunctional vessel to the pottery tradition that has inspired Reitz throughout his career. Although the bold splotches of color look like random effects from the firing, they were actually applied to the surface as frits, slips, or oxides before the piece was stacked in the kiln. Their apparent spontaneity is a perfect foil for this form's lively energy.
In the early 1970s, Reitz rarely titled his work. This form is one he began exploring in the late 1960s, and has continued to make intermittently throughout his career. By the mid-1980s he had begun calling them "Tea Stacks." "Stack" is a reference to Peter Voulkos's well-known "stack pots," and "tea," of course, refers to the teapot-like spout and handle.
by Jody Clowes