0.75 x 5.5 x 5.5 in.
Museum Permanent Collection
Nan Bangs McKinnell’s Tea Set is a quintessential example of her early work, which was heavily influenced by contemporary industrial design. The set is composed of eight highly refined cylindrical teacups with a slightly convex curvature, leaving ample space for the fingers to nestle comfortably between the form and the handle. The teapot possesses the same general shape as the teacups, but on a larger scale; the round saucers complete the set. The wheel-thrown vessels have a white glaze applied to the interior as well as to the surface of the saucers. The exterior is left raw, with an intricate diamond-shaped pattern inlaid using white glaze.
McKinnell, born in 1913 in Stanton, Nebraska, gained an appreciation of art at a very young age. Her father was a dentist and her mother was a homemaker, but both supported her artistic endeavors by enrolling her in piano lessons as well as private art lessons. She received a BFA in music and education from Wayne State College in Nebraska, and moved to Seattle to work as a teacher. She entered graduate school at the University of Washington to study painting and design, but after taking a class in ceramic engineering, she quickly changed her major. While in graduate school, she met Jim McKinnell, whom she later married and collaborated with for several decades. Their joint contributions to ceramics education through the Archie Bray Foundation as well as the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts helped shape twentieth-century American ceramics.
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