Tag Archives: Ceramics and Pottery

Korean Tea Ceremony and Tea Bowls

About seven years ago, my friend Mi-Kyoung performed a Korean Tea Ceremony for me. The pottery she was using was beautiful, traditional, and we were at her brothers home near Vancouver. The author of several Korean cookbooks, she is used to logically laying out steps. What she was doing was informed by much more than that, though. A Korean Buddhist, for her, the ceremony was an exercise in mindfulness. She wanted to teach me how to do it, but as I watched, I felt bewildered. She also gave me samples of four types of Korean green tea to take home. How was I ever going to remember everything? Before she left to go back to Korea, she gave me a gift of Korean green tea, very fine tea. Later, at home, I bookmarked a website that led me through all the steps I’d just witnessed. I have never mastered it, though. In North America, tea is brewed quickly, without much thought. If we order tea at a coffee shop, there’s no time investment at all. Millions of those cups, sleeves and plastic lids must be thrown away daily and I must be one of the very few who orders ‘for here’ or, if there’s no choice, takes the cup and lid home to recycle it. It’s the Throwaway Society, after all. A quick cup of orange pekoe? No comparison with Mi-Kyoung tea ceremony. Another area I know little about is tea bowls. To make one, it seems like one must have a huge knowledge base…then subtract, subtract to the point where there is utter simplicity. Because of my great ignorance in this area, there is little or nothing I can speak to, save presenting the work of others. A beautiful site that is well worth looking at is called Dawan, Chawan, Chassabal or Teabowl. Not only is it a beautifully designed blog featuring tea bowls, the site, by Cho Pak, Korean American artisan/teacher/author, is also very informative. Affiliated sites are Tea Tour Korea, and Morning Earth Pottery. What follows is a five-minute video of Korean tea country, tea ceremonies, and beautiful traditional dress.

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Drinking chocolate from bowls

The first time I drank chocolate out of a bowl was in Calgary during Spring Break 1989. My friends and I traveled up in a rented car. The population back then was 700,000 and to us it was the Big City, as our university town in Montana was much smaller. I remember the Calgarians saying, “You came here for Spring Break?” Followed by, “Why aren’t you in Florida?” We had a lovely time, though, taking the light rail from the university to downtown, shopping, dining, and taking in the Canadian atmosphere. And it was cold. We didn’t care, though! We’d driven up over the Rocky Mountains, through Banff, and out onto the prairies and we were there to have fun and a well-needed break. It was during one of those frosty, early spring days that we ended up in a bohemian little cafe in the downtown core. We’d been looking, seeing, and enjoying all things downtown, were tired and needed to rest our dogs. We all ordered hot chocolate and, to our surprise, big steaming bowls of chocolate were placed on the table. It was so exotic to me! We cupped our cold hands around the warm ceramic bowls and sipped. It was sheer heaven… We were bathed in the rich aroma as we drank it down. It’s one thing to drink cocoa from a narrow mug and an altogether different experience to feel the steam waft around you and take in the scents from a wide bowl. Some time later, after I moved to Canada, I bought my husband a chocolate bowl for Valentine’s Day. It’s a lovely ceramic bowl…fluted, of white clay…decorated with a mosaic pattern on the outer rim. If it wasn’t for the French Canadian influence, I would probably have yet to have experienced such a lovely tradition. Bowls filled with steaming cocoa… It’s early spring, I just got back from Whistler where my friend took us to a lovely crêperie run by French Canadians, Crêpe Montagne. I had their mixed berry crêpe served with crème anglaise. Delightful! The village was full of students on Spring Break. Snowboarders, skiers…and this year there was plenty of snow, compared to last year during the Olympics. It all reminded me of the sojourn to Calgary many moons ago. So, I’m back home and am thinking of bowls of chocolate…

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Video: How to use a rectangular drape mold for clay

Yesterday, I talked about draping clay and listed a few mold sources. After that, I became more curious about how to use the molds because I am going to be using molds for an upcoming project. I found a video that shows how to use a rectangular mold. The artist, Dale Baucum of Baucum Pottery in Tennessee, appears to also be advertising clay tools, but the ad plug isn’t intrusive and it is an excellent how-to video.

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