Saturday Morning Tea

sparrowstonguedry022809

Wow, we made it through the month of February! Time is marching on and we are poised to enter the month when Spring officially starts. Hoo-ray!

There are already small signs of Spring’s imminent arrival.

It’s light out when I rise at 6am every morning.

Where there was once a hushed silence there is now birdsong here and there.

When I go outside, the air feels softer, milder.

Yesterday I saw the tip of a hyacinth gently nudging its way up through the earth.

People are smiling more…

This morning’s tea is a China green called Sparrow’s Tongue Lung Ching. Grown in Zhejiang province, its name comes from its resemblance to bird beaks.

sparrowstonguewet2022809

This little beak is closed for the moment. The leaf is a fine plucking of the first 2 leaves and a bud at the tip of each tea bush stem, the new tender growth. It is minimally processed so the leaf retains its original appearance. It looks freshly plucked, a beautiful spring green.

sparrowstonguewet1022809

Lung Ching tea is a popular green tea from China. You can read more about it in one of my previous posts here.

sparrowstonguesteep022809

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. The aroma is very clean, fresh and light. The tea liquor is a pale muted yellow with a smooth vegetal taste. There’s something about this tea that is very calming.

sparrowstongueteabowl022809

Can you see the whisper of steam rising from my teabowl? I love its speckled glazing. It reminds me of the speckling on a birds egg.

As I gently sip my tea, I listen to a CD called “Silk and Bamboo”, an ensemble by harpist Patricia Spero and flautist Tim Wheater. Here is the description from the CD cover:

“Silk and Bamboo brings together the meditative sounds of the traditional silk strings of the Chinese Harp or Cheng and the wonderful sounds of bamboo and wooden flutes.”

The achingly beautiful sounds of the harp and flute weaving their magic together is lovely to listen to while sipping this gentle green tea.

A moment of serenity after a busy week…

Advertisements

Studio Wednesday

glazedheartnecklace1022509

This week I finished 2 projects – my glazed polymer clay heart and pearl necklace and my first knitted pair of socks.

glazedheartnecklace2022509

I sculpted a heart out of white Premo and after baking, carved some words onto the front and embellished with thin, extruded polymer clay snakes. Using acrylic medium and mica powder, I created a glaze and applied at least 4 layers to the heart, letting dry overnight in between applications. Using 20 gauge antiqued copper wire, I created the metal components of the necklace. The faceted lavender pearls are knotted on hand dyed silk cord. As I carefully put this necklace together, I thought about my dreams, especially the one about buying my own house.

socksfinished022509

My second sock knit up more smoothly as I knew what I was doing the second time around. I now understood about not knitting the whole round with the “waste” yarn and adjusted the instructions accordingly. Since I used bigger knitting needles – US 10 – and very thin yarn, the pattern came out lacy looking. They’ll be perfect to wear in the warmer months ahead.

freeformbracelet022509

Today I worked on a free-form peyote bracelet, a custom order in a fall color palette. It felt so good to get back to placing the tiny beads on my needle once again, if only for a little while. I find my shoulders hunching up with tension very quickly while I bead so I need to be very careful with that.

Today was my last official Studio Wednesday. I felt sad but am excited to begin the next phase of my life. A new adventure. A new house. All my own.

He is the happiest, be he king or peasant,

who finds peace in his home.

~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Saturday Morning Tea

yunnanspiraldry022109

As winter unwinds and we reach out towards spring, I am thinking of spirals once again. How you can come around full circle in your life and you are not exactly at the place where you began but a notch up and further along on your journey. It isn’t a circle but more like a spiral. Time isn’t linear at all because it brings us back around to experiences that keep whispering their messages to us.

So, in all my musings on spirals, I chose this morning’s tea because it has an 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 China.

yunnanspiralwet022109

I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in boiling temp water. The spirals released into long thinly rolled threads.

yunnanspiralsteeps022109

The dry leaf has a pistachio fragrance with a cocoa undertone. The cocoa tone steps to the forefront in the steeped tea’s aroma and lends itself to the taste as well.

yunnanspiralteapot022109

The tea liquor is not as dark as other Yunnan black teas I have tried. Its rich amber glow reminds me of a Darjeeling color but the flavor is very different.

yunnanspiralteacup2022109

While the color is lighter, the taste is very full-bodied with that dark cocoa richness. I am enjoying my tea in one of the teabowls from the set I purchased from In Pursuit of Tea. I love everything about these small 4 oz. teabowls – from the rough texture of the glaze to how they cradle perfectly in my hand.

yunnanspiralteacup1022109

Today I am attending a Mystical Art Tea Party at my dear friend Laura’s house. A wonderful gathering of kindred art spirits enjoying tea and delicious food, conversation and hugs.

There is no hope of joy except in human relations.
Antoine de Sainte-Exupery

Studio Wednesday

knittedsock021809

I finished my first sock! I have to say though that I found this very challenging despite my many years of knitting experience.I think that there was a typo in the directions when it said to knit one round with “waste” yarn. When it came time to remove the waste yarn and place the stitches on my needles, I ended up with the sock being split into two pieces. When I read the directions and saw that I was supposed to have a lot less stitches than I actually had, I knew there was an error somewhere. So, having just learned the Kitchener stitch to weave the toe stitches together, I wove part of the 2 pieces together (the sock “front”) until I was left with the correct amount of stitches to make the heel. Then I continued with the directions as they were written. Whew! Now that I have started my second sock, I know what to do about the waste yarn knitting round. I think… I do like the yarn but it’s very thin and would work better with another pattern and smaller needles.

glazedheartpendant021809

For my glazed heart pendant, I created some copper wire components, antiqued them and then glued them into the pendant with epoxy. I have a whole pile of antiqued wire pieces to be cleaned with steel wool first and then I can start assembling the necklace.

crochetedsilk021109

I’ve also returned to my bead crocheting, this time with some gorgeous Montano hand dyed silk cord. I was concerned about whether the silk cord would be a good choice for bead crochet so I wrote to Lydia over at the Beadwrangler website. She was kind enough to write back, telling me that I could use any kind of cord I wanted as long as it worked for my project. She went on to say that she has experimented with many different kinds of cords, including silk, and encouraged me to do the same. Thanks so much Lydia! With a “bead soup” of coordinating colors and this silk cord, I want to create a multi-strand chain stitch necklace for my “Grow” pendant.

It is with great sadness in my heart to tell you that in a couple of weeks I will no longer be in my studio on Wednesdays. My life circumstances have changed and I find myself having to move again into my own place. So, I will need to work full-time again. That being said, however, I will still be working in my studio in the evenings and on the weekends and will be glad to share whatever projects I’m working on at the time. Even though I won’t technically be in the studio on that day, I will still be exploring the Artful Life and I invite you to join me in my explorations to be shared with you in my Studio posts.

A dear friend recently shared this poem with me. Called Love After Love by Derek Walcott, it really resonated with me at this time. Enjoy!

The time will come

when, with elation

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your own mirror

and each will smile at the other’s welcome,


and say, sit here.  Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine.  Give bread.  Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you


all your life, whom you ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,


the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit.  Feast on your life.



Saturday Morning Tea

almondrooibosdry021409

Happy Valentine’s Day!

It is a sweet day, perfect for a tea party. Won’t you join me?

almondrooibosteaparty021409

Today I’m sipping a different kind of tea. Well, actually it is not a tea at all. It is an herbal called South African Rooibos, rooibos meaning “red bush” in Afrikaans and pronounced roy-boss. The rooibos bush is grown in South Africa and harvested and processed similarly to the tea leaf. The leaves are picked and then bruised to release their volatile oils and flavor.

almondrooibosintin021409

As you can see, there are small pink candy hearts in my rooibos, a perfect treat for Valentine’s Day. This is called Rooibos Candied Almond because there are also small pieces of almond in the blend.

The liquor is an amber color with a candy sweet fragrance and taste. However, the sweetness has not covered up the natural citrus, vanilla taste of the  rooibos. This is a wonderful “tea” for a children’s tea party as it doesn’t contain any caffeine.

almondrooibosteacup021409

We’ve experienced some warmer temps this past week. Along with a day of rain and high winds, our snow piles have shrunk down to reveal patches of grass here and there.

I can’t wait to see peeks of green emerging from the soil.

Enjoy sweetness this day.

When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace. ~His Holiness the Dalia Lama

Studio Wednesday

glazedegg021109

Today brought a warm breeze and 65 degree temperatures to tease us out of the winter doldrums. I definitely have spring in my thoughts as I create my glazed polymer clay pieces.

An egg sits on her nest dreaming of possibilities…

glazednest021109

I had used my Makin Clay extruder to create polymer clay spaghetti strands for my glazed heart. Then I started playing with the strands and created this little nest.

glazedyarnballs021109

And these balls of yarn. Just playing but in my play some ideas were born.

I’ve started doing some research on the sgraffito technique. Practiced in painting, wall decoration and ceramics, this technique produces a design by scratching through a top layer to reveal the layer underneath. I applied many layers of glaze to my egg and didn’t think that it was exactly what I had imagined in my mind. My carving tool was close by so I started carving into the glazing. I would like to explore this technique further.

I’ve also started a few new knitting projects this past week. Last week, I knit another pair of handwarmers for a friend/colleague at work. Since I had some of this positively yummy cream and pink yarn left over, I started a cozy neck cowl. I found a really cool pattern here at t does wool’s blog. You knit a 6 1/2″ x 20″ strip in an interesting ribbed pattern (what does knit 1 in st below mean anyway?) and then create a 2 button and loops clasp so you can secure it around your neck. I’ve never seen anything like this before but I discovered that it’s apparently very popular with knitters. It reminds me of my free-form bracelets with the buttons and loops clasp.

Hey, I just got another idea…

knittedcowl021109

My Mom sent me some “sock” yarn in autumn colors. As you knit, the variegation of the yarn creates stripes. How cool is that.

knittedsock021109

Do you see the stripe of blue yarn? Well, the pattern I’m making (called “All That Jazz” textured socks from the book “Vogue Knitting On The Go: Socks Two”) called for knitting one round with “waste” yarn. I wasn’t really sure what they were talking about but I figured that it wasn’t the yarn I was using to knit the socks with. Hehe So I just grabbed some left over yarn and knit around. At some point, I will need to take that yarn out and transfer the stitches onto my needles. Sounds rather tricky. I’ll keep you posted.

I find myself jumping around from project to project these days.  Polymer clay. Knitting. Art journaling. My acupuncturist told me that people are starting to feel spring energy already. That restless, jumping around, things ready to be born and burst type of energy.

I’ve got to prioritize my projects here…

Saturday Morning Tea

floraltiequanyinteabowl02073

In continuing with my fervent wishes for spring to arrive, I am sipping a very fragrant Floral Tie-Guan-Yin Oolong this morning. Inhaling the aroma of this tea brings memories of that first moment in late spring when you are standing by an open window and the breeze brings in the heady scent of lilac to fill your senses.

Aromatherapy in a cup to dispel the iciness of a long, harsh winter that is still hanging on into February.

floraltiequanyindry020709

The leaves are intensely green, especially after steeping, and rolled into curled shapes during processing. This tea is lightly oxidized making it more like a green tea, with vegetal notes in the flavor. The lilac fragrance bursts its sweetness in my mouth with each sip.

floraltiequanyinwet020709

This tea is named after Guan Yin (also spelled Quan Yin or Kwan Yin), the Chinese Goddess of Mercy. Well loved by her people, there are many stories about her kindness and compassion. It is said that she was a Buddhist many years ago and, after living a life filled with great love and giving, she had earned her place in Nirvana, or heaven. As she was passing through the gates, she heard a cry of anguish come from the Earth. She decided to turn back to the earth and find her immortality in the hearts of the suffering. Her Chinese name roughly translates to “The One Who Hear the Cries of the World”.

floraltiequanyinsteep020709

I steeped the leaves in water under the boiling point (about 190 degrees F) for 3 minutes. The leaves gently released and opened during their time in the hot water. It’s like a tea leaf’s little hot tub. Aaahhhh…..

floraltiequanyinsteeps02070

The liquor is a very pale straw color, the same color as my new teabowl. I purchased a set of 4 teabowls from In Pursuit of Tea. Handmade in Japan, each tea bowl hold approximately 4 ounces. Very sweet.

A kind word is like a spring day.

~Russian Proverb