Saturday Morning Tea on Friday

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I’m in Michigan visiting family this weekend so my tea post is a day early. I’m using my Dad’s laptop and I absolutely love it.  Note to self: purchase a laptop this year!

This morning I am sipping a cup of Tai Ping Hou Kui, a China green tea, and gazing out at the 4 inches of snow that fell over night.  Even though the sun is shining brightly on the sparkling snowfall, winter is not over here in the Detroit metro area.  Back home in Massachusetts, I think the forecast was for more springlike weather, rain and temps in the 40s.

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The long hand-crafted leaf is amazingly intact. After steeping the leaves for 3 minutes with 180 degree F water, I found a leaf set with 4 leaves attached. The aroma is fresh and mildly vegetal and the liquor feels surprisingly thick and full in my mouth even though the taste is mild and sweet.  This tea was first produced at the beginning of the 20th century by a venerable Tea Master.  Its name translates to Great Green Monkey King and it is produced in An Hui province.  The criss-cross pattern on the leaves is stamped from the cloth used to press and flatten the leaf.  The fine crafting and care in its processing is apparent in its beautiful appearance and taste.

Yesterday, my Mom (who is an avid needlepointer and knitter) and I visited a fiber arts shop in Macomb, MI, called Crafty Lady Trio.  We purchased some scrumptious wool and silk yarn, Mom to knit a scarf and I to try my hand at a felted bowl pattern I found in the book One Skein by Leigh Radford. I have visions of colorful felted bowls filled with beads adorning my new studio!  I’ll post photos of the yarn, along with some rubber stamps I purchased for my next mosaicon, when I return from my trip.   

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Soul Collage Cards

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On one of our artist dates, I made some Soul Collage cards with my friends Amy and Judy. We each brought a stack of magazines, a sharp pair of scissors and some glue. Ripping out images that appealed to me brought back memories of doing this exact same activity when I was very young. I found out that day that glue sticks work the best for this kind of work. White glue will create wrinkles as the collage dries.

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After all of the images and words were cut out, I started picking and choosing to arrange them on a piece of 4 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ matboard. This is a very intuitive process and it helps to listen carefully to that quiet wise place inside of you. You’ll be amazed at what emerges.

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I was fascinated to see that the 3 cards I created that day symbolized my past, present and future. My favorite is my present card entitled “Fabulously 50”.

If you’d like to read more about Soul Collage cards and how to create them there is a book called SoulCollage: An Intuitive Collage Process for Individuals and Groups by Seena B. Frost.

Saturday Morning Tea

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Officially, today is the third day of Spring. However, when I opened my window, a frigid blast of cold air flew in. The last remnants of winter are holding on tight. It feels like the weather will never turn warmer but I know that it always does. To coax it along, I’m sending a big invitation for Spring to settle in by sipping a cup of jasmine tea. The sweet fragrance warms my heart and brings feelings and images of an overflowing armful of flowers fresh from the garden.

All beings are flowers

Blooming

In a blooming universe.

-Soen Nakagawa

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The tea leaves are plucked and processed as green tea in the springtime. Then they are stored to patiently wait for the jasmine to bloom. We are like the green tea leaves waiting for the air to warm and the flowers to bloom. Just as the jasmine flowers are about to bloom in the summertime, the flowers are picked during the day. That night the flowers will open and then be laid out with the green tea leaves which have been humidified to soften them. The leaves then absorb the scent of the flowers.

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When I opened the bag, the aroma of jasmine softly greeted me. I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. The liquor is sweet with a subtle jasmine fragrance and flavor. It feels smooth and silky on my tongue.
Oh, welcome Springtime!

My finished Mosaicon

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I recently put the finishing touches on my mosaicon, “The Way of Tea”, created in Laurie Mika’s workshop last weekend. I cut a couple of small tiles to fill in the small areas. For the very skinny areas, I poured various size seed beads and then filled the space with Judikins Diamond Glaze to glue them in place.

Here is a closeup of the glass vial I filled with green tea leaves. It’s one of my favorite China greens called Tian Mu Qing Ding. The hand rolled leaf is just beautiful. You can see my review on this tea here.

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My friend Amy has also written about our wonderful workshop adventure here.

Laurie Mika Workshop

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I had the honor and pleasure of taking a workshop last weekend with the Mosaicon Goddess, Laurie Mika. I’m so glad that it was a 2-day workshop because it was chock full of learning and creating. Using polymer clay, paints, powders, beads and various ephemera, we each created a mosaicon on a piece of wood. There were 12 of us in the class and everyone created a piece both wonderful and unique.

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Laurie has a great informal right brain way of teaching which I warmed up to immediately. She’s patient and sharing and was a great help to me as I tried to manifest what was in my head into a mosaic piece of art. It was a fabulous group of ladies who were encouraging and quick to share stories and art materials.

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The first day we concentrated on making our center piece and various sizes of tiles that reflected our chosen theme. The second day we created painted tiles and then put it all together.

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I love how each piece draws you in with its story.

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The powders and paints lend a very rich look to the polymer clay.

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I didn’t get a chance to finish my mosaicon in class. My idea was to create a temple called “The Way of Tea”. As I laid the tiles out, it just didn’t look finished to me. Then Laurie came up with the great idea to give my temple “wings”, turning it into a pagoda. Here’s the almost finished piece.

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I still have some small areas to fill in with beads (oh joy!) and skinny tiles. If you don’t already have it, I highly recommend Laurie’s book, Mixed Media Mosaics.

I’m already happily planning my next piece!

Saturday Morning Tea

I’m up before sunrise this morning getting ready for a weekend workshop by mixed media mosaic artist, Laurie Mika. I’ve been gathering bits of this and that all week for the theme of my piece, “The Way of Tea”. I’m thinking of a green, brown, red and silver color palette. I have a small envelope of Matcha tea that I’m going to attempt to make a glaze with.

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I’m sipping a cup of an unusual Assam tea from the Sewpur estate. Unusual in the respect that it’s a green tea instead of the full-bodied, rich black teas I’m accustomed to from this district in India. It’s not like a China or Japanese green because you can still detect the malty thick quality. The aroma is slightly vegetal and the flavor is strong yet smooth.

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I look forward to sharing my mixed media mosaic adventures!

Polymer Goddess

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Ever since I discovered the clips from my light tent kit, I’ve been having fun taking photographs of my necklaces hanging from the clips. It’s a great way to show the front part of the necklace, especially if it has a pendant or dangles. A photo of this type of necklace laying down just doesn’t do it justice. I am experimenting with different ways to display my jewelry and the necklace is telling me, in a way, how it looks best.

As I was naming the file for this photo, I realized that this necklace didn’t have a name. Usually, when I’m creating a piece of jewelry, a story or name will start to be “born” based on what inspired me to create. This necklace was inspired by color and gold leaf, as in “wouldn’t it be way cool to make a rich Skinner blend with gold leaf over it and then cut it into dagger shapes for dangles?” And thus, this necklace fit for a “Polymer Goddess” was born.