You know I never thought much about tea tongs until about a month ago when I saw a fellow potter in a social media group post about them and offer the idea about including them in mugs we sell. Tea tongs are used to pull saturated stringless tea bags from cups after tea is steeped.
In so many ways, I am a purist…I refrain from using templates and molds, stamps and decal transfers. I just believe that my art is my art. It is the product of what I create using the rawest of materials I am willing to forage. Now, I know that there are several artists that dig their own clay, mill their own watercolors, mix their own glazes, etc and I do not do any of that.
I learned from spending over five years perfecting my plant-staining technique using natural plants as my color source that creating my own art materials in “back-to-earth” methods is a full-time job in itself. So, again, I am only talking about how much raw I am willing to explore so that I still have time to create the art growing in my inner soul.
What in the world does this have to do with tea tongs, you may ask. Well, in my head, a lot! It has to do with the idea of commercializing a piece of art to sell it and to me, when an artist chooses to use a prefab piece of design, like a stamp someone else made or a decal someone else produced, then they have moved from art to craft and more interested in creating a piece that “looks” close to perfect versus one that exudes individuality from the artist. I see the value in both, but I am just not about craft or look-a-likes and all about art.
Again…the tea tongs connection? When I first saw that post by my fellow potter, I thought of giving tea tongs with mugs as a sales ploy. It is one more thing that people are using to “sell” their pieces instead of the piece selling itself or making the connection between the artist and the collector. I look at those prefab, almost perfect, stamped images or decal transfers on pieces and see commercial product production not art. I see the same thing when attaching a set of tea tongs.
But, then I reflected back to the many tea house experiences I have had. I love tea houses! Some I have been to are quiet and dark for a quaint and private ambiance that leans into zen meditation while others are fresh and lively with lavender and flowers all around for a feminine retreat. They all have one thing in common though…no tea tongs! Ha! They usually serve loose tea in a tea pot that you pour through a strainer to hold back the herbs and leaves. I haven’t ever had tea made with a tea bag at any of those places. But I have had sugar cubes that I have served myself from a sugar bowl to my tea cup with…wait for it…tongs!
So as I was sitting and thinking about the gimmick of the tea tongs, something that is definitely unnecessary in the tea drinking experience, I had a rush of memories back to many delightful visits to tea houses and to the people I shared those rendezvous with. Some are not here with us anymore, some are people I see only a couple times a year, and some are with people that are in the next room, but it doesn’t matter where they are in this particular moment; what matters is the blessing of the memory with them, and what got me to those memories is thinking about tea tongs.
So now, while supplies last, when you purchase a mug from my shop, you will also receive a set of tea tongs! Yes, they are completely unnecessary and, no they are not a sales ploy. In my world, tea tongs are not just for pulling your saturated tea bag from your cup, but they pull memories of delightful visits from your often overwhelmed and busy mind so you can visit with them for a bit while you enjoy your cup of tea from a one-of-a-kind mug as unique as your memories.
Originally published at https://www.rachelleeason.com on June 8, 2020.