Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tea is Always Greener

There was a time when I had more than enough teacups. Then it came to my notice that perhaps the cups and saucers also needed small matching plates to complete the setting? Now I have enough pretty trios to perfectly host a good old English afternoon tea. But what if the tea I'm hosting isn't terribly English? What if it's my latest wagashi treats and a perfectly brewed Japanese green tea with them? What then!? Well, we could go with my regular English and French bone china, or... we could start exploring another avenue of tea wear, we could try drinking from a small amount of Japanese tea wear, just a few setting for just a few guests...

And it's that kind of thinking that can get a girl into trouble. It's that kind of thinking that can lead to this, my first Japanese teacups, and a whole new world of gilded porcelain and lacquered woods.

To start off with are these two, meoto yunomi, or married couple cups. The big one for the fella, the little one for the girl. I'm guessing you're thinking what I was thinking at first too "sure give the man the lion's share!" but the size is actually an ergonomic consideration. Since the cups have no handles, how they feel in the hand is an important consideration, and since ladies on average have smaller hands than guys, the girl's cup is slightly smaller to fit more comfortably, and the boy's slightly bigger for the same reason. I have to admit, first drink I went for the big one, because "no one will tell me how much tea I can or can't drink!" but yeah in the end, the smaller one really does feel better to hold and drink from. I have to hand it to the wife cup! Different teas usually have different specific cups/bowls to go with them. Yunomi like these are taller than they are wide, and a less formal cup you can use with just about any tea.One of the reasons I liked them as a first Japanese teacup.

Another big difference between western and Japanese tea settings is that in the Japanese setting, all the pieces aren't expected to match. They are expected to compliment, but not be identical. I rather like this approach. It opens up for so much more creativity and personal taste. Not to mention greater possibilities for laying out the pieces you have to be different each time!

So obviously to start I also picked up these neat little plates for serving the sweets that accompany the tea, and to go with my lovely little cups.

I hoped the rich wood grain shining through the warm colored lacquer would play well with the tones in the teacups, and that the small gold pine needle would echo the pine motif on the cups as well. I'm not sure how good a setting they might make to someone who grew up with this type of tea wear, but to my maybe overly English eyes they work well. One of the main reasons to enjoy nice tea wear is the good feelings it brings to the flavors you've brewed. The happiness these items bring me mean in that aspect at least they work.

Still saving up for the perfect saucers to accompany the 2 cups (got my eye on these 2...)

Been doing more research, and started to pull in other pieces to the set. It's big subject, and it's always good to have more to blog about. So I'm going to go get a quick cuppa right now and write more about my latest teaventure next time!

Friday, June 21, 2013

High Society Dressing

One of the perks of my job is getting to work on interesting custom pieces I don't usually get to tackle. Recently one of my most stylish clients asked for something a little bit different, a re-production of a Grace Kelly movie dress she had fallen in love with.

In the movie High Society Grace Kelly wears an amazing sky blue and white stripe dress by Edith Head as her character Tracy Lords sweeps into magnificent room to dazzle the reporters from Spy Magazine. Big sleeve, big skirts, and big glamor!

At first glance it seemed a fairly simple construction, but a glimpse at the back, and a showcase at the V&A showed a more complex meeting of solid and sheer fabrics that Ms Head was famous for. On top of that tracking down a strip silk in just the right size stripe, and just the right shade of blue took some serious supplier sleuthing. Fortunately I contacted a silk supplier in NYC the week they happened to get in the perfect fabric!

The project took a lot of experimentation to get the right drapes and translucency, as well as more than 17 yards of pure silk!

A few changes here and there to fit the lady who would be wearing it, but certainly an enjoyable challenge, and one I was sad to see leave the studio! (The waist on the dress is actually much smaller than the display mannequin, hence the gap on the over skirt band)


Based on layout and code by Lena