Friday, April 28, 2017

Book Giveaway Winner!

And the winner of Monday's book giveaway is Geoff!  Thanks to all who participated in the drawing!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Artists and the Humble Tea Bag

very simple collage on a tea bag paper

Over the years I have run across a number of artists who have, at times in their career, used tea bags as a primary element in their artwork. I am always drawn to these artists and their artwork because of the tea bag's association with tea, drinking tea, taking tea, throwing tea parties and so on.  But I am also attracted to the work of these artists because they are re-using a humble material that would otherwise end up in the trash. I love the mottled sepia color of teabags stained by black tea. And I love the translucence of tea bag papers when empty and dry. So if, like me, you have a thing for tea-infused art, take a look at the work of the following artists.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tea Craft Tuesday: Shrink Plastic Jewelry

This set of jewelry illustrates my love of tea as well as the fun I have had experimenting with shrink plastic over the years. I made this jewelry a number of years ago when single sided printable shrink plastic film was all that was available.  Recently I have seen shrink plastic film that can be printed on both sides.  You can find shrink plastic film at most any large craft store.  You can also find it online.

Select a tea-themed word or image to use in each of the plastic circles pictured here. Lay out a page of images using Microsoft Publisher or another design program.  Next, print the shrink plastic page(s) according to package directions. Punch out the circles with circle punches. Then punch a hole in the top of each circle before baking.  (For the beaded brooch I punched a number of holes along the perimeter of the circle. For the earrings I punched a hole at the top and another hole at the bottom of each circle.) Bake the shrink plastic circles according to package directions. I did not seal the images when I made the shrink plastic circles, so over the years the wear and tear on the jewelry has caused the images to flake off.  Lesson: Be sure to seal the printed surfaces according to package instructions.

1) Attach a jump ring onto each plastic circle and attach them to a chain bracelet like charms.
2) Add beads between the plastic circles in order to add more color and dangle to the bracelet.

1) Attach a jump ring onto to top and bottom hole of each plastic circle
2) Attach earring hooks onto the top jump ring.
3) Attach beads dangling from the bottom jump ring.

1) Lace a wire through the holes around the perimeter of the circle, adding small beads as you go along.
2) Glue a pin back to the back of your plastic brooch using E-6000. Let the glue on the pin back dry for 24 hours before wearing the brooch.

If you find that you enjoy working with shrink plastic, get a copy of Kathy Sheldon's book entitled Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk (Lark,2012).  She includes bright images and detailed instructions for each project in the book.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Giveaway Tea History Book: For All the Tea in China

Hello!  I was tidying the shelves of my tea library this weekend, and discovered that I have two copies of this book: For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History (2010) by Sarah Rose.

If you would like to win this duplicate copy of the book, leave a comment on this blog post by Friday 4/28/17 at noon.  I will do a random drawing of names from those who have left comments.

For one of many write-ups about this book, take a look at this 2010 review from The Washington Post.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Words of Wisdom from Thich Nhat Hanh

You must be completely awake in the present to enjoy the tea.

Only in the awareness of the present,
can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup.

Only in the present, can you savor the aroma,
taste the sweetness,
appreciate the delicacy.

If you are ruminating about the past,
or worrying about the future,
you will completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of tea.

You will look down at the cup,
and the tea will be gone.

Life is like that.

If you are not fully present,
you will look around and it will be gone.
You will have missed the feel,
the aroma,
the delicacy and beauty of life.
It will seem to be speeding past you.
The past is finished. Learn from it and let it go.
The future is not even here yet.
Plan for it,
but do not waste your time worrying about it.
Worrying is worthless.
When you stop ruminating about what has already happened,
when you stop worrying about what might never happen,
then you will be in the present moment.

Then you will begin to experience joy in life.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Proper Cup of Tea

Once you learn to hold both pain and joy, once you learn to walk this tightrope, then you can "make a proper cup of tea." I was reminded of this thought by a gorgeous blog post over at a blog called "Transactions With Beauty."  The author quotes wise luminaries such as: Pema Chodron, Joseph Campbell, and Thich Nhat Hanh to make her point. And she illustrates the blog post with her beautiful photography. It is well worth a look.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Interview with Artist Alexis Larsen

During my family's recent vacation in Charleston, South Carolina, I visited the Art Mecca of Charleston.  I have visited that gallery numerous times since I discovered it in 2014.  I enjoy its eclectic mix of artists and very reasonable gallery prices.

This year during my visit to the Art Mecca of Charleston I discovered the artwork of Alexis Larsen.  I was drawn to her artwork which features a mix of ethereal atmosphere and line drawings. And I did a double take when I noticed on the descriptor cards that she uses tea as a pigment in her artwork.

Following that gallery visit I contacted Alexis and she graciously agreed to be interviewed for this blog.  Meet Alexis:

You are an artist.  And you use tea in your art making.  Can you talk about how you came to combines these two loves: art and tea? 

I first stumbled upon tea in art in college.  I took a class that explored different mediums of art and we were challenged to come up with 10 different mediums that were not paint.  It is here that I first started exploring the colors and texture that tea has to offer and I fell in love with it.  I have always loved tea and combining my two loves brings me happiness.

Why do you currently devote your life to art making?
 I devote my life to art making because it’s important to me.  I want to follow my dreams and try to become someone that I can be proud of.  I know the art world is difficult but I don’t think my life would be fulfilled if I didn’t try.  I also love art and what it can bring to the world.  It offers the world different perspectives and can help people view things differently, giving us a way to connect to others that we previously didn’t have.  It can bridge gaps and can explain things we find hard to discuss with no words at all.

What do you hope to express through your art making? How does tea play into this expression?
I hope to express my love for nature in my art making.  I think nature is quite beautiful and lovely and I believe we sometimes take it for granted.  I use tea to express this because tea is all natural, its created using leaves and berries that are from nature.  My art with tea expresses the diversity that mother nature offers.  The variety of colors and textures within such a small area is astounding and I love exploring and finding more.  Nature is beautiful and should be explored and appreciated, like art.

 Is there an artist who you consider to be a teacher or mentor? Could you tell us about that relationship and how they have influenced your art making?
I have had many great teachers throughout my schooling but a few have stood out to me.  My painting teacher in college helped me view art from a different perspective by giving me a new outlook on abstract art and making me question what art is.  He also helped me emotionally with the issues an artist encounters and gave me an awareness on how the art world works.    My intermedia teacher taught me that anything can be art and that there is more to the art world than a perfect painting.  He helped me be free with my paintings and allowed me to think outside the box and explore a whole other side of what art is.

Artist's Statement of Alexis Larsen
Nature has always been a big part of my life and has shaped not only my art, but the way I see and experience the world.  Finding beauty in simple things has given me a unique perception of what the world has to offer.  I have fallen in love with the wide range of effects working with tea creates and the controlled chaos it can produce.  The textures and colors in my pieces come from nature and allow me to use them in their rawest form.  The simple beauty of my work is unique, not only in appearance, but also in the creation.  The natural patterns are mesmerizing and provide a different environment that is truly one of a kind.

 My work invites people into a world of different textures and colors, allowing them to explore and find patterns within each piece.  Sometimes I add drawings to my pieces to give more life to the work and make the tea feel like an environment one can relate to.  Other times, I feel that the tea alone creates its own atmosphere and with each piece I allow it to tell me where to go.  I imagine that each painting is like a person in how they have different needs.  Although they each may be made from similar materials, they are all individual and unique.  I invite viewers to get up-close and personal with my pieces to experience the subtle colors and textures that are the true beauty of my work.

For more information, see:

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Oliver Pluff & Company, Charleston, SC

My family and I spent a delightful Easter weekend in Charleston, South Carolina these past few days. While there I discovered the local tea importer and blender, Oliver Pluff & Company.  I was thrilled at this discovery and came home with a stash of new tea, which you see pictured above.  Oliver Pluff & Company provides tea to many historical sites throughout the United States.  They differentiate themselves from other tea companies with their emphasis on historical accuracy of their tea blends and their dedication to the dissemination of tea-related history.  Just take a look at all of the great historical information on their website!

Here is their mission statement as it appears on their website:
Oliver Pluff & Company creates early American tea, coffee, and spice blends for historical and gourmet markets.  We believe that people with a passion for history are enriching their lives, and that the exploration of history gives people a sense of belonging.Our mission is to connect people to American heritage through historic beverages. 

I am thrilled at this new Charleston discovery, and know that I will be seeking out Oliver Pluff & Company tea on each of my return visits to the "holy city."

(For a great interview with Kyle Brown, Founder of Oliver Pluff & Company follow this link.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tea Craft Tuesday: Decoupage on Glass

These two projects are decoupage on glass. I purchased simple glass candle dishes at Wal Mart to use as the base for each of these projects.  I decoupaged the candle dish at the top with a solid (opaque) tea leaf themed paper. I decoupaged the one at the bottom with two layers of dried and unfolded tea bags.  In between each layer of tea bags I placed a sprinkling of paper leaves punched from sepia colored paper.  To me these paper leaves represent dried, uncurled, tea leaves.  As a finishing touch, I painted the edges of each glass candle dish with an opaque gold paint pen.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Welcome to my tea diary!

Hello!  I am thrilled to be starting this new blog in which I will focus on tea and how it touches many different aspects of my life.  My original blog, "mindfully made" focused on a number of different aspects of my life.  The idea recently came to me that I was creating so many posts about tea on that blog, that I should break out this topic into a blog of its own.  So here's "my tea diary!"

So relax.  Brew a pot of your favorite tea or tisane.  And stay for a visit as I share with you the many ways in which tea has and does touch my life.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tea Craft Tuesday: Tea Tin Planters

I had a large, root-bound plant that needed to be divided.  So I decided to take the plant apart and re-pot it into tea tins.  As you see in the photo, this particular plant may be a bit large for tea tins, but I am satisfied with the way it looks.  You could use your tea tins as cache pots - meaning you would place plants in small plastic pots inside your tea tins. The tea tin would hide (cache) the unattractive plastic pot.  However for this project I decided to turn the tea tins into planters.

1) Drill a hole in the base of each tea tin.
2) Place a scoop of pea gravel into the bottom of your tea tin.
3) Fill the remainder of the space in the tea tin with your plant and potting mix.
4) Water thoroughly and let drain before placing your plant-filled tins on a decorative tray.

I have seen this project done with herbs which creates a lovely tea-themed herb garden.  I have also seen tea tins used as the pot for flowering bulbs.
© my tea diary
Maira Gall