Musings on a Spiral

spiral.jpg I have been thinking about spirals a lot lately. I have always been drawn to this symbol and I think it is the perfect symbol for springtime. It symbolizes rebirth and regeneration, representing the cyclical nature of life. It can also symbolize a spiritual journey to your center, a place beyond the visible world. Making art can be a spiritual journey because it takes us to our center where our deepest expressions come from. Here is one of my favorite quotes.

“The purpose of art/craft is not so much to make beautiful things as it is to become beautiful while you are making those things.”

The spiral first appeared approximately 24,000 years ago so it is one of the earliest examples of human creative expression. It is ubiquitous, appearing in the sacred art of every society in the ancient world. Its early association is with the Mother Goddess and how all life comes from her and is returned to her in a regenerating cycle. So, it has had a universal resonance within the human psyche for thousands of years.


There is a particular Chinese green tea, called Pi Lo Chun, that is processed and hand rolled into a spiral shape. Its name means “green snail spring”. This derives from the time of year that it is picked (Starting at Spring Equinox, for 2 weeks) and the shape that the leaves are rolled into. During hand processing, the bud-leaf set is carefully rolled into a tight silvery-green spiral that can hold in the freshness longer. As the tea leaves steep in hot water, they unfurl to reveal the full, intact leaf that was originally picked. Much like our imagination steeps with new ideas and they eventually unfurl into a wonderful new creation.


Pi Lo Chun tea tastes like a fresh spring day. It was originally called “Astounding Fragrance” for the aroma from the fresh leaves. The tea bushes are interplanted with plum, peach, and apricot trees for shade. The fruit trees are in full bloom when the tea leaves are plucked in the early spring and some of the floral aroma is absorbed by the tea. The liquor is a clear light yellow with a pale green tint and has fruity, sweet flavor notes.


In my contemplations and musings about the spiral shape, I have beaded a spiral curl.


Inspired by a technique from “Beading with Peyote Stitch” by Jeanette Cook and Vicki Star, I wanted to bead an ancient underwater creature, spiraling up to reveal its beautiful pearl treasures. Now I have to figure out what type of necklace I’d like to create to honor this exotic sea creature. Or, shall I turn it into a pin. What do you think?

7 comments on “Musings on a Spiral

  1. Lisa Clarke says:

    I’m really drawn to spirals, too. Gwen Gibson has used a spiral pattern in some of her silk-screening that I *love* ( And, if you have young kids, you probably know that spirals are a prominent theme in the Blue’s Clues decor 😉

  2. Amanda says:

    I think it would make an interesting and unusual necklace 🙂

  3. artandtea says:

    Hi Lisa, Thanks for the link to Gwen Gibson’s spiral design. It’s beautiful! My kids are all grown up now but I have heard of Blue’s Clues. That’s cool that they’re using spirals.

  4. artandtea says:

    Thanks Amanda, I agree. I’m leaning towards a necklace, too.

  5. Judy says:

    Karen.. I love your spiral curl. It seems to have a special place somehwere; maybe with me. It deserves attention. I just love your work anyway.
    C U Soon!

  6. […] amazing leaf artfully shaped into spirals. The leaf appearance reminds me of a black tea version of Pi Lo Chun, Green Snail Spring. It is called Yunnan Spiral Buds from Yunnan province in […]

  7. […] This morning we travel to the Yunnan province of China for a cup of black tea called Yunnan Golden Snail. A careful plucking of the top leaves on the tea bush is handcrafted into beautiful curls. The leaf looks like the black tea version of Pi Lo Chun, a China green tea whose name translates to Green Snail Spring. You can read my review of that tea here. […]

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