“Meditation on Spring” Beaded Cuff

Spring colors are blooming on my very first bracelet cuff creation!

Forsythia yellow, willow green, azalea pink, rhododendron rose, cream and baby pink magnolia. Colors so fresh and light, rebirthing the world in their embrace. Ah, I just love this time of year!

Almost exactly 2 years ago, I wrote this post about stitching a 2-drop peyote band from a bead soup mix that was left over from this freeform bracelet. That band has sat, well, for 2 years now, on a bead mat in my studio, patiently waiting for me to transform it into a piece of jewelry.

I created the face cabochon from polymer clay using the same glazing technique I used for these faces, rubbing on mica powder and mixing alcohol ink with liquid polymer clay.

After I beaded around the face cabochon, I attached her to my peyote band. As I held it in my hand, I felt that the weight of the cabochon was just too heavy for the lightness of the band so I pondered and pondered on what I could do next. Hmmmm…

Aha! What if I sewed the peyote stitched band to a piece of ultrasuede and then glued that to a brass cuff? That would give it the weight and counterbalance it needed! So, I did just that and then glued another piece of ultrasuede to the back of the cuff. I stitched a beaded edge, thus joining the 2 pieces of ultrasuede together at their edges, giving the cuff a finished look.

I found a great resource on the web for ultrasuede. Field’s Fabrics is located in Michigan, has over 160 colors of ultrasuede in stock and charges only a flat rate $6.00 for shipping. You can buy scrap variety packs or as little as 1/8 yard per color. I used a pale spring green called limade for this project.

Even though it took me several years to figure out how to bring all of the components together in harmony, I’m so happy with my new creation. Now that’s it’s complete, I’m thinking of another bead embroidered bracelet, this one softer without the brass cuff, possibly beaded on a piece of batik fabric in yummy colors.

Ah, the possibilities…

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” 

~Albert Einstein

Unless otherwise noted, all text and photos are the property of Karen Park Art and Tea, copyright 2007-2011. Please do not “lift” any of my photographs or blog posts for use on your blog or website. Thank you so much for your respect and kind attention.

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Saturday Morning Tea

My morning tea is waking me up with its bold taste and refreshing pungency! From the area of Qianjiang located in Hubei Province, China, it has been processed as a gunpowder green tea.

Gunpowder tea leaves are withered, and then steamed before being rolled into small pellet shapes said to resemble black gunpowder grains. Black gunpowder was invented in China during the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) for weapons based technology to defend the northern border of China against the invading Mongols. Most gunpowder teas nowadays are rolled by machine but some high grade leaf is still rolled by hand.

The beautifully intact leaf unfurls into circular shapes during its 3 minute steeping in 180 degree F water.

As I pour my first cup, a nutty aroma fills my senses. It carries on into the flavor of the pale gold liquor, also revealing a sweet fruit note and whisper of smoke. This is the perfect tea for those looking for more body and less vegetal flavor in their green tea.

I had a wonderful visit with my parents, as always, way too short and then they are gone. We made our annual trek to Nantucket Island for a lovely 3-day getaway. You can read about last year’s trip here. The weather was sunny and cool, perfect for strolling along the cobblestone streets and embarking on another deep sea fishing journey. This time I stayed on land and cheered the returning fishermen on their bluefish catch. I drank in the sights and sounds of the island and the profusion of gorgeous flowers everywhere.

I leave you with one of my favorite island sights.

“Being with real people who warm us, who endorse and exhault our creativity, is essential to the flow of the creative life.”

~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Creating a Flickr Gallery for Inspiration

I recently read a post by Libby Mills on making a flickr gallery for inspiration. What a cool idea, thanks Libby!

I made some of my own galleries to inspire and delight.

Tea Bowls

Antelope Canyon

Fractal Art

That was so much fun! What inspires you?

“The glow of inspiration warms us; it is a holy rapture.” ~Ovid

Saturday Morning Tea

Oh my, where did the morning go to?

I started out the day by indulging in a sleep in, getting 3 hours extra sleep than normal. Very decadent, I know. It’s the perfect day for it though – gray and dreary with heavy rain and wind. A day you want to stay under the covers a little longer.

I felt like something lighter this morning so I brewed a pot of Pai Mu Tan, an organic white tea from China. The least processed of all the teas, you can still see the downy white hairs on the leaf. Also known as Bai Mu Tan tea which literally translates to “white peony”.

I have read that the plucking rules for this tea are very strict. It is only allowed to be picked between mid-March and mid-April and only when it is dry out. No rain, no dew, no frost on the ground.

The epitome of spring in a cup of tea.

As you can see, it is a fine plucking, meaning the top two leaves and the bud. The tender leaves remind me of what is starting to peek out of the soil here in New England. Soon the crocuses will begin the blooming parade of color.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. The pale gold liquor is delicate and sweet with a bloom of fruity notes in the flavor.

I am often surprised when people say that white tea has no flavor. Yes, the taste is delicate but I find it full of complexity and flavor. The expectations are not the same as those for a black or Oolong tea.

Amazing how they all come from the same plant though. It’s like people. All of us are born with the same parts, we breathe, we eat, we have blood flowing through our bodies. What happens after that, our experiences and how we respond to them contributes to what makes us different.

I love the color of this teabowl. The white tea is so pale that it shows the beautiful green color of my bowl.

What tea is in your cup this weekend?

“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.” ~John Muir

Winter Woods Vest

In January, I treated myself to a yummy gift, a year’s subscription to Jane Thornley’s Inspired Knitter’s Club. Ever since I discovered Jane’s website last year and then attended one of her retreats in Taos, NM, Jane has inspired me to unfurl my free range knitting wings and soar into a world of color and texture. Jane describes her vision for the Club:

“Inspiration is air to the lungs, light to the spirit…..Here is a book in monthly format that captures the essence of the creative muse for knitters, beaders, weavers, spinners and dreamers alike. Packed with photos, concepts, ideas, inspirational journeys both internal and global, tips, techniques, stitch spells and color delves this is like a feast for the creative spirit.”

In this “vestal creation”, Jane teaches how to move from darks to lights with a textured stitch calling to mind the forest floor during a woodsy walk. As I’ve been enjoying that very activity every Sunday, I’ve drawn much inspiration for my vest color palette.

I’ve created the button from polymer clay, using black, white, translucent, and silver foil. I discovered a love for making buttons and am now looking at the cardigans hanging in my closet with that in mind. Hmmm….

Now that my vest is finished, I am turning my creative thoughts to another project – a feather and fan stitch wrap in vibrant blues and greens. With spring fast approaching (yay!), I need some colorful yarn on my needles!

“I see knitting as art, as viable as any other, and no matter what the tool or preferred palette, in human hands, magic happens.” ~Jane Thornley


Saturday Morning Tea

Here in New England, this is the kind of day we wait for all winter long – brilliant sun, azure skies, no clouds and temps forecasted near 50. A glorious day for walking!

This morning I am delving back into the herbal world to share an interesting tisane that I’ve been enjoying as my evening cuppa lately.

Ocimum tenioflorum, commonly called Holy Basil and known in India as Tulsi,  meaning “the incomparable one” in Sanskrit.

There are 2 types of Holy Basil, one with light green leaves and one with dark. I have prepared the darker variety, also called purple leaf probably because the leaves have a purplish tinge to them.

Many Hindu families have Tulsi growing in pots outside the entrance to their home. The Tulsi plant is venerated as a goddess and every year a ritual is performed marrying her to the god Vishnu. This ceremonial marriage is called Tulsi Vivah and it signifies the end of the monsoon season and the beginning of the Hindu wedding season.

Tulsi has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic remedies. Studies have shown its benefits in quite a few conditions ranging from regulating blood glucose to pain relief to reducing cholesterol levels. I’ve also read that its great for easing stress.

I steeped the leaves for 8 minutes in boiled water. The amber liquor has a distinctive clove, anise/licorice aroma which carries over into its taste.

Sweet and spicy pepper notes mingle with a hint of cinnamon and fruit. I bet this would be lovely iced.

I’m looking forward to a warmer time when iced drinks will be regularly enjoyed.

The fresh air is beckoning….enjoy your weekend!

“When we emerge into the bright landscapes of the sun everything looked brighter, and we felt our faith in Nature’s beauty strengthened, and saw more clearly that beauty is universal and immortal, above, beneath, on land, in heat and cold, light and darkness.” ~John Muir

Saturday Morning Tea on Sunday

The weather couldn’t have been better at this time of the year – sunny and near 50 degrees! – for the move yesterday. They’re all moved in and now the unpacking and settling into a new home begins. There’s a lot of moving energy around me these days, including a company move coming up this summer.

I am sipping a cup of green Ceylon tea this morning, from the Idalgashinna estate, located in the Uva province in southeastern Sri Lanka.

Tea growing on the island of Sri Lanka was started in the late 1800s by a Scottish gentleman named James Taylor. Up until that time, coffee was the number one crop on the island until a rust fungus killed the majority of coffee plants. Starting with a basic tea cultivation knowledge learned in Northern India and 19 acres of land, he soon turned a small business into a very successful one, selling his tea for the first time at the London auction by 1873.

As you can see, this particular green tea has quite a large leaf. After steeping for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water, some of the twisted full leaf releases that shape and some stay tight. As I poured my first cup, a distinct vegetal aroma rose from my glass teapot.

A teapot full of sunshine.

The liquor is light and more delicate than other green teas, with a floral note reminiscent of a “green” Oolong. Its brightness, characteristic of Ceylon high grown teas, is revealed as the tea cools.

With deep blue skies and fast moving fluffy clouds, today is the perfect day for a hike into the late winter woods. I like to go every Sunday afternoon for my weekly dose of nature.

As I started down the woodsy path last week, I sensed a gradual awakening that tells me that we are almost at spring’s glorious door.

The fields are snowbound no longer;
There are little blue lakes and flags of tenderest green.
The snow has been caught up into the sky–
So many white clouds–and the blue of the sky is cold.
Now the sun walks in the forest,
He touches the bows and stems with his golden fingers;
They shiver, and wake from slumber.
Over the barren branches he shakes his yellow curls.
Yet is the forest full of the sound of tears….
A wind dances over the fields.
Shrill and clear the sound of her waking laughter,
Yet the little blue lakes tremble
And the flags of tenderest green bend and quiver.

~Very Early Spring by Katherine Mansfield