Tea, Anyone?


July 25, 1993|By BETH SMITH

When Ricki Baker plans a tea party, she doesn't have to worry about finding a teapot to fit the occasion. Ms. Baker, a vice president of sales and marketing for a local company, owns more than 50 pots, ranging from delicate antiques to cutting-edge, handcrafted designs. She began collecting teapots more than 25 years ago when her parents presented her with a porcelain and chrome teapot that had been given to them as a wedding present in the 1930s.

A few years ago, when she moved into her present home, a duplex in an attractive old building in Baltimore, she found out just how large her collection had become: The new home didn't have enough space to display it. Ms. Baker didn't want the pots tucked away in some closet.

"My teapot collection is very personal to me and I love to live with my things around me," she says.

The dining room, with its handsome sideboard, family pieces, Oriental rug and interesting artwork, seemed a logical place for a teapot display, but Ms. Baker did not want to place the pots in a china closet or some other traditional piece of furniture.

"I like things in surprising places," she says.

So, using training she received in college art classes, she designed her own glass shelving unit. Using her plans, carpenter Steve Walk carved out a niche in the dining-room wall and routed out grooves to support mirrored glass backing and glass shelving.

"I decided on glass because I thought it would make a great backdrop and I didn't want anything textured to detract from the teapots themselves," Ms. Baker says. "I am really not sure if what I created is good design, but it works for me."

The shelving unit adds an eye-catching element to the dining room. The glass shelves are filled with teapots in all sizes, shapes and colors, including one shaped like a parrot, one shaped like a high-tech cat and one that looks like a red-haired chorus girl, Ms. Baker's favorite.

While the teapots are finely crafted art pieces, they are also functional. When tea-loving visitors stop by, Ms. Baker wisks a pot off the shelf and brews a wonderful cup of herbal tea.

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