Friday, June 6, 2014

New tea things just out of the kiln

After a busy winter, I finally found time to mix some glazes and test new clays in my home studio. The mizusashi is about 6" tall, and the teabowls are 4 1/2" in diameter.
Because the summers are long, very hot and dry here, I plan to make more tea things with a sense of coolness.
Clear glaze on white clay.

Chidori, plover bird.
Happy circles.

Dragonflies on hira-chawan, for summer.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Here is one more little travel chabako I put together recently. I found the metal box at a resale shop, and a vintage collapsible cup with a lid for the kensui (bowl for discarded rinse water). I made a chakin tsutsu and furidashi with marbled clay and small white stoneware chawan with similar colors. 

The chasen is extra small so I will use the plastic container as the tsutsu until I can find time to make one of aluminum.  Also, in bottom center of photo is half of a screen ball-shaped tea-infuser that I use to sift the matcha. Instead of a lacquer natsume I use a tin container that matcha came in when I first began lessons in the 80s.  (not in picture.)



Happy New Year!

Jou and Uba with trial replacement rake & broom.
Even though they were on separate shelves in an antique mall, and their broom and rake were missing, I recognized them as Jotomba, the old couple who are spirits of twin pines, in the Noh Drama called Takasago. I quickly chose them to come home with me as compliments to the natsume (tea caddy) I had acquired this year. It has a portion of a poem from Takasago written on the outside and a drawing of their broom and rake on the inside of the lid.

They often displayed at the New Year and at weddings and anniversaries. At Sensei's Hatsugama tea gathering last month, my figures were displayed in her living room, with 2 shoots of Rosemary planted in a bonsai pot, to represent the pines. I presented usucha with the Takasago natsume.

Uba (the woman) sweeps away all sorrow, and Jou (the man) rakes in blessings.
Happy New Year full of blessing to you!
Rake & broom I made for them.
Here is my new sewing project. 

I found a vintage purse in a local antique mall in December.  On the left is my first home-made navy blue goshokago (my March 2013 blog entry) on top the new one, after its handles, metal hinges & clasp were removed, to show relative size. 

The painting of a fisherman seems
an appropriate theme for a goshokago
which can be used for an outdoor tea ritual. 

Because it wasn't lined, it didn't take long 
to unfasten the handles, hinges, and clasp.  


Creating a paper pattern for the lining.
The printed silk lining is now sewn onto fabric stiffener.   
Test fitting the lining. 
The same fabric was used to line 
the chawan bukuro (tea bowl bag). 



The basket with most of the contents. 
It stills needs a ribbon tie. 

All the things for making tea fit inside,
(space for whisk is in upper right area).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ready for my Pottery Sale on Saturday

The reason I haven't posted for a long time is that I've been setting up a small pottery studio in our garage and getting ready for my first open studio & sale since we moved to Austin (in addition to teaching 2 pottery classes, grandchild-sitting, and studying more difficult chanoyu temae). It's on Saturday, December 7, so please email me if you want more info.

The first step to making my studio space was to clear out lots of things we had stored there and replace the window glass and blinds. Now there's a space for my 2 potter's wheels (electric and leg-powered treadle) with a view into our front yard where birds and butterflies come to the drought-tolerant native Texas plants. We had a separate electric line and a vent installed for the small kiln and it's full of work and ready to fire.










This is a piece "in progress" cushioned on foam while I carve the surface. I've been testing a variety of clays and will test glazes next before making more things for chanoyu.  
Happy Holidays!







Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New sewing project

Even after sewing so many pieces for my Shikishidate Goshokago, I was still in a sewing mood. And I wanted to use the beautiful cha-ire (pottery container for thick tea) that I bought last fall, but it didn't have the required shifuku (bag).

It's challenging to follow the instructions on how to measure, and draw the custom-fitted pattern even though the pictures are very detailed. Two friends have helped me translate the Japanese text and I added my own notes in English as I went through the process to help me remember details.

Below are some in-progress photos. I didn't photograph the failed attempt caused by trying to conserve fabric. I cut out the pattern with a minimum seam allowance that frayed, and the bag was too small.

Before cutting the next attempt, I ironed on a very light weight fusible fabric to the back of both the outer fabric and lining, and left a generous seam allowance that could be trimmed away after sewing. Since the fabric I chose was rather stiff and the fusible backing gave it and the lining extra stability, it didn't add the usual thin layer of padding between the layers.

The pattern I made from measurements.
Measuring the chai-re
The bag lining ready for its bottom to be sewn on.  
The bag, inside out, with bottom sewn in. 




Hurray, it fits!

My home-made marudai



After basting the lining to the bag, I put it aside and made the kumihimo braid for the drawstring cord on my home-made marudai (frame for braiding). The first silk cord I braided with 8 bobbins/strands of 3ply silk, which turned out to be too small in diameter. I went back to The Needle Works here in Austin for some 6ply red-brown silk embroidery thread, which is better, but still little bit thinner than the cord on my "real" Japanese shifuku in the photo below. I read that I could vary the counterweights to change the thickness of the braid and will experiment with some Perle cotton thread before I work in silk again. 


Photo below: 
Upper left - the new basted shifuku ready for loops and cord, with red cord.
Lower left - my "real" Japanese natsume shifuku for comparison, and the first gold cord that is too narrow.  


Goshokago For Lesson



Last month I was fortunate to have a special lesson in Shikishidate Temae, the procedure for using a lidded basket called goshokago. The set has many more parts than the other Chabako Temae, and it has taken me a year to research the techniques, find the materials to alter or substitute, and put the set together. I would still like to make a rectangular basket and braid the sanadahimo ribbon for it.




First I transformed a purse into a goshokago, by replacing the original handle with a ribbon tie, and removing the zipper. (see Aug 31, 2012 entry "Gosho-bako Progress"

Here is the set. (back to front, left to right)

Goshokago (basket), 2 chawan, natsume on its kobukusa (cloth), chasen in its tsu-tsu (tube), chakin-bako in a shifuku with button closure, chashaku in shifuku, 3 folded kobukusa, furidashi in its ami-bukuro (see my Sept 6, 2012 "Macrame Furidashi Bag") The bukuro for the chawan is in next picture. 

It took me an especially long time to create a pattern for the bukuro (bag) for the nested tea bowls since I did not have a book or directions. My internet research yielded photos of 2 different designs. The more typical one has an inset bottom (on the right below).

The other style bukuro is the type usually made for natsume (tea caddy). It intrigued me because it looks so simple, but it was very hard to create the pattern. After hours of internet surfing I finally found a clue - a pattern for a simple Japanese tote bag that was based on the same general idea. But it had a square bottom and I wanted a curved bottom that would fit the teabowl snuggly. It took 6 attempts to figure out the proportions and curves that would create the right form when sewn together with long enough "ears" to tie it closed.

I lined the final version (below left) with a contrasting fabric even though that is not traditional, to conserve the small amount of plain-colored chirimen silk I purchased online. It was a pleasant surprise when my home-made bukuro looked so similar in shape and size when placed next to the "real" Japanese one that was so kindly given to me later.  The hedate (triangular shaped pad) in the picture goes between the two chawan before they are tied up in the bag.


2 types of bukuro, & a hedate (triangle pad)


 The pattern I created for the bukuro.



Shifuku for chakin-bako in progress.
Unfinished wooden chakin-bako and silver paper origami one.