Annual Teapot Shows Steeped in Success

Flameworked and cast glass “Spring Fling” by Jennifer Umphress was among the works in Morgan Contemporary’s 6th annual teapot show.

In keeping with its name, Pittsburgh’s Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery showcases lots of studio art glass. So when owner Amy Morgan followed a friend’s suggestion to mount a teapot show six years ago, her first thought was that they’d all be made out of glass. And indeed they were.

“It went pretty well,” she recalls, “but it was tricky. I couldn’t identify enough teapot makers working in that medium.” And some collectors were reluctant to buy, telling her they just couldn’t make the leap from ceramic teapots to glass. Still, the show garnered interest and attendance, including people who’d never previously visited the gallery.

Morgan was happy enough with the results to chance making it an annual event, but with a few tweaks. She expanded the invitational show, which is held every spring, to include work “in every medium you can imagine,” which made the task much easier. “There are so many artists making sculptural teapots,” she added, “or are at least willing to.”

Now all the teapots are sculptural and non-functional, she explained. In many cases, she’s urged artists to make them based on their previous work. And those frequently became her favorites. The teapot form, so evocative of community and familiar ritual, gives artists “an opportunity to weave stories into the process,” she said, “which makes the pieces compelling for both artist and collector.”

The 6th invitational show, which closed on June 2, featured some 80 teapots from 62 artists, and can still be accessed online at www.morganglassgallery.com. “The shows have opened teapot collectors’ eyes to the possibilities,” Morgan concluded. And that’s a good thing, both for collectors and for ongoing gallery sales.

Is putting on a teapot show a lot of work? Yes.

Is it worth all that effort? Absolutely.

Will she mount one again next year? “Why not?” Morgan says with a satisfied smile.

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