The Evolution of a Beaded Flower Pin

Moms Beaded Flower Pin 2 09 07 13

Hey wait, that isn’t a photo of tea leaves! I know, I know, it’s been many moons since I’ve shared one of my creations with you. I seem to have slipped into a quiet, inner space of creativity this year, a space I feel myself slowly peeking out of.

This pin had an interesting evolution.

Earlier this year, I received my copy of Contemporary Geometric Beadwork, Volume 1 by the fabulous Kate McKinnon and her amazing beady tribe. Using the instructions in the book, I taught myself how to zig zag, an MRAW (Modified Right Angle Weave) stitch that then morphs on into peyote stitch. The zig zags are formed by an increase and decrease at regular intervals. If you love to bead and don’t have the book yet, run to the link above and order it. You’ll be glad you did.

Moms Beaded Flower Pin Closeup 09-07-13

So, zig zags to create a cuff bracelet. All was going well until the zigs got ziggier and the zags got zaggier and the whole cuff shrunk and was way too small to fit over my hand. Oh dear, lesson learned. Pay attention, Karen. Measure, Karen.

Moving forward, now what was I going to do with this too small cuff, I wondered. In thumbing through the book some more, I discovered that you could do some strategic weaving to pull the shape into a starfish or flower shape. Brilliant!

And a flower pin was born.

Moms Beaded Flower Pin 1 09-07-13

Once I wove the zigs (or was it the zags?) together, the middle looked kinda empty so I beaded around a topaz rivoli crystal and ta-da – a sparkly flower center was born. Did I mention that you can make two layers on this type of beadwork? It gives the structure more dimension and strength.

Moms Beaded Flower Pin 3 09-07-13

After all the beadwork and weaving was done, I sewed a pinback on and covered it with a small scrap of ultrasuede. I gave it to my Mom for her birthday.

And now that my Mom has received her gift and it goes perfectly on her new fall sweater, I can share it with all of you!

As always, thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more creations in Geometric Beadwork.

Saturday Morning Tea

Keemun Xiang Luo Dry Leaf 09-07-13

Good morning, dear tea friends! Change is in the air. The winds have shifted, welcoming in September with dry, cool air. As I sit and sip my tea, I watch the summer curtains dance and flutter around my windows.

I’ve chosen a dark, rich tea this morning, a China black tea called Keemun Xiang Luo, which translates to “fragrant snail”. The leaves are rolled and curled during processing, similar to the green tea called Pi Lo Chun, to resemble spiral snail shapes.

Keemun Xiang Luo Steep 09-07-13

I steeped the dark, glossy leaf for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

Keemun tea is named after a county, Qimen, in Anhui province. There are several stories about its origins but the most common is one of a governmental official in the late 1800s who learned about black tea production in Fujian province and then decided to return to his native county, Qimen, to produce black tea there. He met with success and his new black tea was imported to England where it was enjoyed as a breakfast tea.

Keemun Xiang Luo Wet Leaf 09-07-13

As you can see, some of the leaf opened their accordion pleats during steeping and some stayed rolled. I detected a maltiness in the aroma as the leaves steeped, which dissipated after the tea cooled to reveal a hint of red wine and a toasty note.

Keemun Xiang Luo Teapot 09-07-13

The tea liquor gleams like dark honey in my glass teapot. The flavor is thick and rich with notes of dark cocoa, which linger in my mouth.

Keemun Xiang Luo Teabowl 09-07-13

This would be a great tea to take along to an outside fall activity, like a long walk through the woods or a football game. It’s very warming.

I’d like to wish my very dear Mom a happy birthday today. Happy Birthday, Mom!

Have a wonderful week and enjoy your tea!

“And the beauty of a woman, with passing years only grows!”

~Audrey Hepburn

Saturday Morning Tea

Oolong Extra Fancy Dry Leaf 08-31-13

Good morning, dear tea friends, and Happy Labor Day to all of my US tea friends. As promised, this morning’s tea is a Formosa Oolong Extra Fancy. Let’s see how it compares with the Extra Fancy lot I enjoyed 2 years ago.

The large, hand-processed leaf is identical – fully intact leaf sets of the first two leaves and a bud (tip). You can see the buds with the fine downy white hair covering the baby leaf.

Oolong Extra Fancy Steep 08-31-13

I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in 190F water as I did 2 years ago. I’m not sure why those tiny bubbles formed along the inside of my glass teapot while the leaves were steeping.

Oolong Extra Fancy Wet Leaf Set 08-31-

What a beautifully intact leaf set – a testament to the careful hand-processing of the leaf and the Tea Master’s art!

Oolong Extra Fancy in Teapot 08-31-1

This tea steeped up lighter than the last lot – a glowing peachy color in my glass teapot.

The fragrant aroma smells of chestnuts with a hint of fruit, like peach or apricot.

The flavor is light and smooth with a pronounced honey note that steps back as the tea cools to reveal fruity notes of peach and apricot. Comparing the flavor to the last lot, the fruity flavor notes are very similar but the mouth feel isn’t as heavy syrup-y ambrosia-like but lighter and delicate.

Oolong Extra Fancy in Teabowl 08-31-

It’s a cloudy, muggy day here in New England with the threat of late afternoon thunderstorms for the next 3 days. I spent a wonderful day yesterday with a dear friend, working on some art projects. The months have flown by and I haven’t shared what I’ve been working on, I know. I guess I’ve just been in an introspective creating period this year. Patience, my dear friends. Hopefully, the cooler breezes of fall usher in some art posts to share with you.

As always, thanks for stopping by and sharing a cup of tea with me. Have a wonderful week!

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

C.G. Jung

Saturday Morning Tea

Kaimosi Estate Kenya Tea Dry 8-17-13

Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m finishing up my explorations of African black tea with another visit to Kenya. In my cup on this warm summer morning is Kaimosi Estate GFBOP, a broken leaf tea with flecks of tip sprinkled amongst the dark leaf.

Kaimosi Estate Kenya tea Steep 8-17-13

The Kaimosi tea farm, along with 3 other farms, is owned by Williamson Tea. At an altitude of just under 6,000 feet, this 3.2 square mile farm is located in the North Nandi district of Kenya. They started planting tea there in the 1940s and most of the tea harvested today comes from the original plantings.

Kaimosi Estate Kenya Wet Leaf 8-17-13

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

This tea was plucked in the early morning hours while the dew was still fresh on the leaf. It takes ten days to pluck the whole of the tea farm. Because they sit so close to the Equator where the sun is quite hot, the leaves need to be transported to the factory quickly, where they are dried, withered, rolled and oxidized all within a 30-hour period from picking to cup.

Kaimosi Estate Kenya in Teapot 8-17-13

The other day, I responded to an e-mail from a customer asking for a red tea. I have found that most of the black teas I photograph are varying shades of amber. Even though this tea is also a dark amber color, it comes pretty close to being red that I’ve seen.

It simply glows in my teapot like a rich jewel.

Kaimosi Estate Kenya in Teabowl 8-17-13

The aroma is warm and inviting with a whisper of citrus. The robust flavor reminds me of a smooth Assam, with light malty hints and and nuances of warming spices. At a 4-minute steep, this tea was quite smooth. I believe it could take a longer steep time, 5 or 6 minutes, especially if you’re adding milk and sweetener.

I’m looking forward to going to a painting class with a dear friend tonight. Mixing colors and painting connect with a deep passion I’ve had since I was very young and played with watercolors. It’s one of those activities that makes time stand still and the regular day-to-day world recedes for a little while. A lot of fun!

As always, thanks for stopping by and sharing a cup of tea with me!

“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun”

~Pablo Picasso

Saturday Morning Tea

Rwanda OP Dry Leaf 8-10-13

Good morning, dear tea friends! I continue my journey through the tea producing countries in Africa with a visit to Rwanda. In my cup this morning is an OP (Orange Pekoe) black tea selection.

Tea growing in Rwanda started in 1952 and has grown steadily ever since. The tea is planted at two different elevations – on hillsides at an altitude of 6,000-8,000 feet and in well drained marshes at an altitude of 5,000-6,000 feet. I have read that there are 11 tea estates in the country and each estate is located right by a tea processing factory as the tea must start its processing within a few hours of plucking.

Rwanda OP Tea Steeping 8-10-13

I steeped the large rolled leaf for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. You can see the leaf starting to unfurl as it steeps.

Rwanda OP Wet Leaf 8-10-13

Back in April, the Rwanda Ministry of Agriculture unveiled plans to increase tea production in their country. You can read more about that here. It sounds like they have some challenges to make that happen, like infrastructure access and resistance of some farms to grow tea.

Rwanda OP in Teapot 8-10-13

The glowing amber tea liquor has a toasty fragrance, which I find comforting. The flavor is strong yet smooth with light nuances of cocoa thickness and toastiness. I think this tea could be steeped longer than 5 minutes as I only detected a mild tang in the flavor. I’m going to try 6 minutes next time I brew a cup.

Rwanda OP in Teamug 8-10-13

I think this tea is a fabulous value and would make a great everyday tea. At a longer steep time, it would stand up well to milk and sweetener, too.

It’s a beautiful summer day with high wispy clouds sailing across a deep azure sky.  I think I’ll pull on my walking shoes and go for a hike on the bike path along the lake. Have a wonderful weekend!

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”

~Friedrich Nietzsche