I love teapots and certainly these days there is always a huge range to choose from. I like functional teapots, that you can use every day, that pour well and don’t dribble, that make a good cup of tea and are beautiful in their own right. Often you can go into tea rooms these days, where there are novelty teapots on display. Novelty teapots can be interesting but they have to be good quality, if they are not functional, otherwise they are just collecting dust.
This tea towel comes from the Teapot Pottery, founded by Anita and Tony Carter in 1978. When I visited, in 2002, it was based in Debenham in Suffolk. I remember discovering Carter’s Teapots unexpectedly, as we drove past, and couldn’t resist going in. It was tiny; there was a small shop and at the back you could see a couple of people painting teapots. Alongside the shop was a very tiny tea room with two tables; the menu consisted of tea and cakes and the tea pots were their own, worth a cup of tea just to test their tea pots for pourability. While I love functional teapots, I fell in love with Carter’s novelty and quirky tea pots. I like the fact that they had a range of miniature teapots as well as those of a more conventional size, together with a fully functional teapot.
All the Carter Teapots are handmade and hand-painted; Carter Teapots are also well known for their glassy, high gloss glazes with deep underglaze and deep lustres using real gold and platinum. There is a wide range of designs, all of which are limited to between 100 and 2000 production runs. Carters Teapots are commissioned to produce teapots for some big-name stores like Harrods and Bloomingdales; their teapot based on a Harrods shopping bag is one of their iconic designs. It will come as no surprise to any reader that I was lured into temptation and bought two teapots on this visit. I have to say that my favourite is a miniature, novelty teapot design of a lighthouse; it is white with a red stripe, reminiscent of Souter Lighthouse. I love it. I also bought a practical, useable teapot, which is a great pourer; it is cream with a black sketch of a teapot (identical to the one on this tea towel). I have to say that on my second visit, the following year, I bought a miniature teapot that commemorated the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
In 2013, Anita Carter died and the business was sold, renamed Carters of Suffolk and moved to Stonham Aspal. I do love their work and using this delightful, simplistic cotton tea towel reminds me of that first visit, meeting the friendly staff who were willing to give their time to explain the process of making the teapots, the lovely cup of tea and seeing a very successful small business. Happy memories.
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