So for a few days I’ve been collaborating with a friend. She’s a connoisseur of fine teas–I’m talking teas that might sell for $300/lb. Teas that get better and more valuable with age. Teas that grow high in the trees of some exotic country and are picked at night when the moon is full. (This might be a stretch–the moon picking.) Teas that may have one purple leaf out of thousands–and only the purple leaves are harvested –and I think this is called purple tip puerh. Puerh. Poo-air. Had a really hard time learning to say that word. Sometimes woke up in the night trying it out. But I’ve got it now.
So, my friend pours tea. Chinese tea ceremonies. In all sorts of settings. Private or public. Galleries. Homes. Workshops. The ceremony is exquisite and feels like an ancient connection–the ritual of it all. They’re slow paced. Thoughtful. Meditative. Reflective of a time and culture when “slow” was honored over “hurry up and get ‘er done.”
She also sells her teas online and in shops. And right now she is expanding her offerings to include hand-made pouches for tea aficiandos. People who carry their teas from place to place, sharing with others, experiencing tea-tastings–that sort of thing. So it’s fitting that the tea pouches will be made in that rhythm–tea dyed vintage cloth, thoughtfully assembled.
We’ve come up with a prototype–two prototypes actually. For the first one, I soaked vintage fabric in tea for several hours, rinsed, dried and assembled the pieces onto a substrate of cotton. Then used free motion machine stitching to “glue” all the pieces together.
I’m loving this particular fabric–the mellow colors, the softness. But it was really time consuming and I need to figure out a way to streamline the process. Not speed it up. Just work more efficiently. So this morning while I was cleaning up the chaos in my work space, I noticed a pair of jeans I was going to take to Goodwill. Thought, hmmm. Look at the legs there. What if I cut out pieces of the leg–I’d almost have a ready-made pouch. So I played around for a few minutes and this is what happened:
A different style. May go together more quickly–I’m not sure. But I’m imagining it now made from soft tea-dyed fabrics. Hmmm. And I need to add that the bags themselves become fragrant. Like sachets. Sachets of wonderful smelling tea that grew in the tops of exotic trees in a land far beyond my imagination.