Friday, May 25, 2012

This has been a week of searching for chabako utensils. A friend took me to an antique mall north of Austin that was a treasure trove!


I found two silver pieces for the travel coffee set that I am changing into a vertical chabako.

With a little research I came to conclusion that the 5" tall stainless steel bottle holder (below) was originally part of a men's travel shaving kit, so it seems appropriate for this masculine-looking travel case. The lid has a cork inside to hold the bottle-stopper in place. The stamp on the bottom says  SUCCESS <H&A> MADE IN U.S.A.  The 4" diameter bowl has a diamond shaped paper label E MALOX, NORWAY.  


Yesterday I found another glass boot, 3 1/4" tall,  slightly larger than the first one I found that initiated the idea for a "cowboy chabako". This boot has a more distinct cowboy design and chakin will fit into easier than the first one.

When I told my sister about my idea, she shared the vintage tin Stetson Hat box we've had since childhood. It isn't big enough for a chabako box, but I will find a way to incorporate it.

The blue enamel coffee pot is 8" tall and perfect size to fit on  brazier to heat water for tea. I think I might use the child-size beaded cowboy belt as a kimono obi-jime; and maybe make gingham or paisley print cotton kimono. I'll cut red bandana to correct size and back it with silk so that it will fold in a similar way to the standard all-silk fukusa.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again
Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we're together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.

Happy trails to you, 'till we meet again.
Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.
It's the way you ride the trail that counts,
Here's a happy one for you. ...

Lyrics to "Happy Trails" by Dale Evans Rogers

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chabako Tea at Allerton Park

Chabako Tea at Allerton Park, Monticello, Illinois
On May 11, 2012

My sister and I went to Allerton Park to make chabako tea. It was perfect weather with little white clouds floating across a clear blue sky, birds singing, and grass so fresh and green that the whole scene seemed unreal. After living in Austin, I had forgotten how tall the trees are in central Illinois where the soil is deep and rich and there is plenty of water.

Back when I was in high school, there was a little spring hidden in a leafy a ravine that was off the main path between the mansion and the formal gardens.  One could wander down into the coolness and rinse hands in the little pool of water the size of a birdbath. I thought it would be nice to make tea there, but the site has been “upgraded” with a wooden footbridge that allows visitors to see but not disturb the tiny stream that trickles down to fill the pond that was created to reflect the  mansion.

We walked on up to the other side of the ravine to a small white trellis gazebo with a concrete bench. I brought out my travel chabako (see previous blog entry) and a thermos of hot water and made tea. 

After tea we strolled down the central alley of the formal garden to enjoy a collection of peonies, hosta, and  formal clipped hedges. 

How My Life in This Place 
Connects to My Interest in Chado

Monticello is a small farm town that is also a county seat with well-educated lawyers and teachers from a nearby major university. There were farmers who were in tune with the seasons and townspeople who worked together to create an orderly and harmonious place to raise their families.

As a child I recall passing through stately white pillars that led into a wide swath of a path cut into the woods. My parents took my and my little sister there to enjoy the fall color of trees in crisp autumn air. Coming upon the classic bronze centaur sculpture at the end of the path made reading fairy-tales even more vivid.

I also recall the magical time when I was about 12 years old and we 4H campers tramped across the road to gather and sing by candlelight in the grassy area guarded by 2 rows of large blue glazed ceramic fu dogs on high pedestals. 

Later, in high school, I won a scholarship to an art camp at the park. We slept in attic rooms of the mansion and spent our days in different areas of the garden sketching and painting the sculptures and landscape. It was much later that I realized just how very lucky I was to grow up in a small town of 3,500 people, and also experience a taste of European formal and informal gardens and sculpture, created by Robert Allerton amidst acres and acres of corn and bean fields.

Experiencing the contrast between formality and rusticity at an early age seems to continually resonate in my art work and approach to life in general. I find a similar sense of order, appreciation of and respect for tools and things made with them, and a deep connection with Nature in Chanoyu.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Today I'm preparing for a short trip and decided to quickly put together a travel chabako in an unfinished wooden box with a ribbon tie that I found at a resale shop. It's smaller than the standard chabako seen in the picture above, so I made a smaller teabowl to fit.  

I will pack the whisk in it's original clear plastic container instead of the proper lacquer tube. I found a jolly little glass to hold the wet the linen cloth. The small green jar I made, with a cork stopper, will hold kompeito (tiny bits of hard sugar candy). I made the tea scoop cover and kobukusa (small napkin to protect hands from the heat of the teabowl) from fabric samples. 

I think this humble little chabako will be fun to use on my trip. 
Happy Trails to You!

Here is a picture taken last Saturday at our tea event at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. As teishu (host) I used a chitose bon, a round box, about 12" in diamter, that holds the teabowl, tea caddy, tea scoop, whisk and linen cloth. The lid is first removed and turned over to become the tray and then each utensil is brought out, cleansed, and tea is made and served. Then the utensils are cleaned and put away.

The box is larger than chabako and the procedure is less complicated, but it seems like magic to pull lovely things from a box and then make them disappear again, where they wait patiently in the dark to be used once more. [Photo by Bob Scott]