Tea and the Bookcase
"Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage"....Henry James. If the cups are a voyage, the teapots must be the journey of a lifetime. In many ways they are. Welcome to this Blog about redesigning a Great Room Bookcase with memories inspired by Tea. I began my tea journey when I was very small and learning about tea parties with my Grandmother. She was a very proper Canadian Lady who was born in the 1800's and reared in rural Ontario. I remember her always being in the kitchen creating wonderful goodies, having her friends over for Tea or getting dressed up with hats and gloves and going somewhere special that proper ladies attended. My love of tea and beautiful things comes from her.
I needed a new look for the bookcase by the fireplace in the Great Room and thought of all the teapots I had stored away and scattered about the house. Why not pull some of them together and display them in the bookcase. Each time I brought one out I remembered something special.....a moment.....sharing a cup of tea on a cold Winter day.......tea while watching a funny movie.....finding and bringing the teapot home and wondering what story it would tell.
I have lots of different kinds of teapots. Some of my favorites are the ones made by talented potters like the one on the top shelf. It is embellished with black flowering
branches and a bird just getting ready to land. It goes nicely tucked between two Canadian Geese. The larger is hand carved and rather weathered while the small goose is made from sturdy dried plant material. Because I was born in Canada these carry special meaning.
On the next shelf another pottery teapot, this time with a wheat design representing the mid-West where we lived for awhile, shares space with a green polka dot teapot that always makes me think of one of my dear friends. The plate in-between is a Fitz and Floyd Spring plate.
Another pottery teapot in ochre colors, the "Charleston Cake Lady" book and the simple green teapot remind me of pleasant stays in Charleston. I was fortunate to be able to go behind the scenes at several of the Charleston museums to learn about tea practices in Colonial times with the curators of those museums. It was a really fabulous learning experience. The everyday people in Charleston didn't have fancy teapots but they enjoyed the beverage.
Of course, wealthier people would have enjoyed tea from Spode, Lenox and Wedgewood pots like those on the top shelf in the picture above. I have found many of these teapots at Thrift Stores. It makes me sad to think that some of the rituals surrounding a cup of tea are no longer valued. The act of brewing a pot of tea and then sitting down to enjoy it adds a moment or two or much needed relaxation to your day.
The bottom shelf above has two hand thrown pots. The blue one is a little quirky and reminds me of the tea in Alice and Wonderland. Everything was a little off kilter at that tea. The other pot also has a sense of whimsy. It is well made but the glazed circles in the front add a sense of fun to the teapot. "Taking Tea with Alice" is a fairly recent publication and describes how to have an Alice in Wonderland Tea. Quite fun.
This next shelf holds one of my all time favorite teapots. The storybook cats so engrossed in reading their book surrounded by bright colors and flowers just makes you want to smile. My daughter and I enjoy tea from this pot with the cats artfully displayed. I paired it with a solid red teapot that makes a happy statement. This is a great pot for a cold day especially if you can enjoy it next to a warm fire. The watercolor in the center is from a vacation trip a few years ago. All good memories.
The top shelf in the picture above holds pots that reflect children and collections. I started my family drinking tea when they were pretty young. Half tea, half milk and a little sugar makes perfect tea for younger tea drinkers. The book, "The Pleasures of Tea" is one of my stand bye for tea ideas.
The bottom shelf holds a cast iron teapot in dimpled wine color. The cast iron pots are fun to use because they really hold the heat quite well. They are quite heavy. This pot holds about four cups of tea and then, using the same tea leaves, you can refill it for a second pot.
The white pot is ironstone and quite rare. The beautiful lines and embellishments add to its graceful appearance. It has stories to tell and I remember exactly where I found it as it was such a special teapot.
We'll round up this teapot journey with a white ironstone teapot on the top shelf. It's another beauty with great lines and a bit of history. Next to it is a beautiful pottery plate I've had since we married. It was a wedding gift from a good friend and I have used it for tea cakes many times since that wonderful day. Next to the plate is my most special teapot that brings memories of a very dear holiday with our family. It's from a potter in Prince Edward Island with a very meaningful matching dragon cup.
The white teapot on the bottom shelf is made by Wedgewood and reminds me of my Grandmother.....elegant and compact. I really enjoy brewing tea in that pot. The book is called, "Tea Party" by Tracy Stern. It has 20 themed teas outlined with the corresponding recipes. A great source for ideas. Finally, we have this little red two person cast iron teapot. Great for making tea for you and a friend. Many times that has happened bringing so many good memories.
I'll leave you with another view of the whole bookcase. It was such a nostalgic display to put together...... a series of good memories from the journey so far. Have a great week.