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a cup of tea and a sign of spring

April 19, 2015

part one :: a cup of tea


 one of the things that I have learned recently is the pleasure of taking a tea break.

i’m talking about the true steeping, sitting, and sipping of a lovely tea

as an intentional break and meditative time between spurts of busy activity.

i was guided in this direction through discovering

the wonderful danmala teas through instagram.

lindsay luna has created a line of products that are not only delicious

but are also beautiful to look at and and packaged in such a way

that opening them is an aesthetic experience in itself.

IMG_3218(raven photos by laurie brown/rodeobeachravens)

i have cultivated a nice little tea cabinet

to make the tea break even more appealing,

including some of the tiny fragrant tea lights

from house of good juju that came with my teas.

soon after i started drinking these teas

i was struck by the beauty of the spent tea leaves

during and after steeping–

the delicate rose petals floating as steam rose up around them,

the colors of tiny blossoms made vibrant by the hot water.

i learned something else from this meditative experience:

i am challenged and thrive by finding artistic means of expression

through the use of what would otherwise be immediately discarded.

i discovered that i work better with certain limitations–

that a studio filled with art supplies overwhelms,

while a spoonful of soggy tea leaves and blossoms

becomes an open invitation for creativity

and a unique form of expression.

my first project was to dry the tea leaves

and create small vignettes

with the different tea blends.

IMG_3076(credit to elizabeth bunsen for the eco-printed notebooks)



i walked around my studio and selected various natural objects

from the sea, forest, and prairie

and arranged them around

a blend of tea that i had dried.



it made me pay attention,

made me handle and arrange treasures that i have collected

over many years of travel and adventure,



and reminded me of the exquisite beauty to be found in nature.

the simplest things are so incredible in their detail.


when i had photographed all of the the various arrangements

i piled up the tea samples on my studio table for another project

that i intend to do with paint.

i really thought that was it–

until another morning when i watched the steam rise from my cup

and realized that i was really only beginning.


i opened a package of cotton rag watercolor paper

that i brought home from one of my visits to the tate in britain,

folded it in half, spread the tea leaves out and,

using my great-grandmother’s heavy antique coal iron for weight,

pressed the tea leaves and let them dry.


i did not yet know what the papers would become,

i was simply intrigued by the different impressions

that each tea blend left on the page.

(thankfully danmala teas offers a sampler set that gave

me a bit more variety!)

i realized after standing the pages up that they would

be bound into a journal,

one that i now refer to as my danmala tea journal.




i pulled leather, beads, and threads and began.

four of the pages went into each signature,

and i made three signatures.


i decided to use a piece of eco-dyed wool for my “end-papers”,

this also from elizabeth bunsen.


i used waxed linen thread to bind the signatures into the leather cover,

and used glass beads and old stock thai hill tribe silver

on the outside of the binding.


each folio is labeled with the source

and the name of the tea blend.






now i just need to enter thoughts

that equal the presentation.

* * * * * * * *

part two :: a sign of spring

it all started with this:


a fallen cottonwood catkin that landed by the garden fence.

my husband brought it in to me because he thought i would like it.

i did.

very much.

i then proceeded to spend much of the next hour carrying it to

almost every room in our house

and placing it amongst other objects in an activity

that became, for me, a form of creative play.



IMG_4457(flower petals courtesy of gibbous fashions)

IMG_4471(marjorie camisole from gibbous fashions)

i am an admitted collector, respecter, and appreciator of things

found, thrifted, salvaged, and created by hand.

i save many things, which leads to a bit of teasing from my daughters

about being a hoarder (which i am not),

but i find uses for these treasures that feeds my soul and spirit.


this is a page from my “cycles” book that originally

came from a local flea market.


and no, you weren’t finished seeing repurposed tea for today!






a catkin, on the rocks…

sounds refreshing, doesn’t it?


with rosebuds from my valentine’s day bouquet.



with feathers, because everything looks better with feathers.


old sewing machine drawers that i refinished many years ago.


with yarn, branches, and paint.




on the mossy forest scarf i knitted this past winter.



in my mother’s paint box.

i wish that she could have taught me to paint.

she did it well.




if you’ve made it this far, i thank you for indulging me.

i know it’s a lot of photos.

i am a very visual person, and this has taught me to study detail and pay attention

to things that strike a chord in me.

it is my way of life.

but there is something else that i have learned,

something that i was told when i taught small children

but have come to appreciate anew as an aging adult:

we never know the impact that we might have on others.

i feel fairly certain that none of the ladies whose work i have included here

would have had any idea that the work of their hands

would be transformed into something entirely different

through the work of my hands.

i thank them for what they do.

it is something that i try to remember each day–

what we put out into the world matters.

we may never really know why it matters

or who it matters to,

but it matters.

thank you for being here.

you matter to me.


15 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2015 2:36 am

    lovely compositions!! colours, textures, patterns beautifully put together. you paint very well with these 🙂

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      April 19, 2015 3:18 am

      thank you so much! I checked out your blog and look forward to exploring more of your wealth of watercolor information! thanks for stopping by here and leaving such a nice comment!

      • April 19, 2015 7:24 pm

        you’re welcome 🙂 I really enjoyed all the beautiful images that you created; I saw those paints and smiled.

      • April 19, 2015 7:30 pm

        one more thing, your statement “we never know the impact we may have on others…” really resonated – is a powerful message.

      • sassysistersink permalink*
        April 20, 2015 2:04 am

        it’s so true, and bears repeating! a little more thought given to what we do and the impact it has on others would go a long way to making our world a kinder, gentler place. I wish I could thank so many of the people who had a positive impact on my life!

  2. April 19, 2015 1:19 pm

    That beautiful Catkin. You put it to many uses, didn’t you. I love it with that painted wood and the butterfly. Isn’t it so dear that your man knows you so well, to pick something up off the ground and bring it to you, knowing how delighted you’d be!
    I can’t tell you what this post does for my senses; a visual calming; my breath is taken away and yet soothing and slow. It’s very meditating.
    You MADE that leather bound journal! I bet you can’t wait to write in it while taking tea sipping breaks. Listening to birds of spring and jotting down your thoughts on that stained cotton paper. 🙂
    You are a lovely lady. The loveliest.
    I’ll think of you walking along the shore finding more washed up gifts from the sea.

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      April 20, 2015 1:47 am

      oh, Lynn– I always look forward to seeing what you notice! yes, I am lucky to be gifted natural treasures by my loved ones! my daughter came over this evening with the bluest robin’s egg I’ve ever seen, which I nestled alongside some bunny fur in a found nest. I do periodically make journals, but never enough to sell any. I’m just not good at repetition– once I’ve made it I’m done for a while! I will think of you when I’m in Monterey, walking that beautiful beach and filling my pockets with treasures ! xx

  3. Lori permalink
    April 19, 2015 4:58 pm

    I love the continuation of our ‘tea time’ with the journal and your musings on each page will be just as lovely. catkins on mossy green, perfect spring photo.

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      April 20, 2015 1:52 am

      yes, Friday tea was sunshine on a rainy day!! I just know that this week we will see a burst of color and new growth that will invite spring photo sessions. I’ll be thinking of you in the garden!

  4. April 19, 2015 6:18 pm

    It is a treat to see these gorgeous, rich photos and all your creativity! I am in love with your tea leaves journal – those silver beads, the smooth leather cover, the wool endpapers and your beautiful tea art pages. What a pretty little branch of catkins – and I love every photo you took of it. I’ve got a thick horse chestnut cutting with fat rust-colored buds on my desk waiting to be sketched, snipped from a tree planted near the road many years ago.

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      April 20, 2015 1:59 am

      oh, I look forward to seeing a photo of that sketch, Diana! it is so satisfying to work with the wonders of nature, to further my understanding and appreciation of the interconnectedness of all living things. I’ll bet you are starting to see the greening of spring up your way which will no doubt inspire many new sketches in your journal pages!

  5. pencilfox permalink
    April 19, 2015 8:37 pm

    such loveliness….tea cups and feathers and journals and all sorts of museum bits….


    • sassysistersink permalink*
      April 20, 2015 2:06 am

      yes, all of the many things we share a mutual appreciation for! it is one of my greatest delights to cultivate a cabinet of curiosities! xo

  6. sageandspirit permalink
    April 21, 2015 12:40 am

    Because of this wonderful post, I took time today to stop and make tea. It was something I needed to do, and I thank you for reminding me of that. xx

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      April 21, 2015 1:05 am

      ah, Julie, I’m so glad you did! sometimes we simply need to take those little breaks to let our minds have some time to reflect on all the beauty and wonder around us. xx

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