Artisans on Hand Fri, 22 May 2020 16:38:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Artisans on Hand 32 32 178037507 Where Tea meets Art & Story Thu, 14 May 2020 17:04:14 +0000 …]]>

Brewing aged Pu-er tea, courtesy of Kenny & Yshel

Fabula Tea, created by Kenny & Yshel, specializes in creating one-of-a-kind tea experiences & blending small batch connoisseur-grade teas with stories, people and art. Each canister tells a unique story through the artwork on the label and the origins of the tea discovered within, unifying the healing powers of tea, story and art.

Poetry, Tea and Tao

By Henrik Barth

In 1908, New York merchant Thomas Sullivan packaged tea samples into hand-sewn muslin bags, intending for his customers to empty the leaves into hot water. Some though, unsure what to do, submerged them in their tea pot and the tea bag was invented. Sullivan developed a machine to package tea fannings into gauze sachets, marketing and shipping them around the world, just in time for modern industrial progress.

Lady in a Chinese Silk Jacket -Bernhard Gutmann (1909)

But the real story of tea began 5,000 years ago. Shen-Nung, the “Divine Farmer”, was boiling water in his courtyard, when leaves from a Camellia tree fell into the pot. Shen-Nung drank it, and said “It quenches thirst. It lessens the desire for sleep. It gladdens and cheers the heart”.

In the course of centuries, Chinese tea culture developed formal rules for tea preparation and drinking. A complex ceremony required twenty-seven pieces of equipment, and this ritual element calmed the mind, brought an awareness of the moment, and heightened the perception of beauty and nature.

The culture emerged simultaneously with poetry genres, brush and ink painting, calligraphy, lapidary, alchemy, and metallurgy. During the Han Dynasty (200 BC), arts of cloisonné, silk painting, porcelain, lacquerware, and paper making, were gathered into the tea ceremony.

Poets and priests gathered in tea rooms, surrounded by gardens, rich furnishings, textiles, and paintings, to recite poems. The elaborate design of the tea pot, or the way one held the tea cup, expressed an awareness of the consistent and rhythmic harmony of nature

While dark oolong, delicate green and white teas were becoming a status symbol among the upper classes, tea was becoming one of the necessities of life for the Chinese people, along with rice, vinegar, and soy sauce.

In farms and villages the informal method of tea preparation was adding leaves to a pot of water that had been drawn from a well or river, heated on a wood fire, and steeped slowly to allow the fragrant oils to extract. The rural tradition of enjoying a pot of tea while writing poetry is clearly evident in references in classic Chinese poetry. 


Living water needs living fire to boil:
Lean over Fishing Rock, dip the clear deep current;
Store the spring moon in a big gourd, return it to the jar;
Divide the night stream with a little dipper, drain it into the kettle.
Frothy water, simmering, whirls bits of tea;
Pour it and hear the sound of wind in pines.
Hard to refuse three cups to a dried-up belly;
I sit and listen—from the old town, the striking of the hour.

Su Tung-p’o (tr. Burton Watson)

In 1168, My?an Eisai, a Japanese Buddhist priest, traveled to Tiantai mountain in Zhejiang, to study Zen. The slopes of the region provided an ideal habitat for growing tea. When Eisai returned to Kyoto he planted tea seeds. In his treatise “Kissa Y?j?ki”, he wrote “tea is the perfect mental and medical remedy to make one’s life more full and complete”.

Tea culture arrived in Europe as a rare and expensive luxury by way of Venetian traders in 1560. With an expanding silk and spice trade, Holland and France became the largest tea consuming countries, until tea came to England in 1650.

Shen-Nung noted tea’s piquant fragrance, brilliant color, and complex aftertaste, and in the Divine Farmer’s Herb-Root Manuscript he gave instructions for drying tea leaves to preserve their potency. Tea aficionados believe loose teas make a superior tea, because the oils fade away when the leaves are broken up into fannings and packaged.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (517- 600 BC) regarded tea an elixir, which improved health and promoted longevity, and the tea ceremony as a distillation of the experience of y?nyáng, its contrasting and complementary energies and patterns, moving according to a principle, or “tao” –meaning “the way”.

The essence of “tao” was an understanding that every experience produces its opposite in an endless cycle of reversal. Tea drinking was symbolic of living in harmony with nature; it improved alertness, and kept the mind from getting in the way of “tao”.

The art of brewing tea –steeping loose whole leaves in a tea pot of boiling water –induced a meditative stillness, which was a powerful reinforcement of “tao” –distilling the experience into its elements: awareness of moment, beauty, and quietness.

The tea ceremony lent itself to all disciplines of art, but especially to the musical, patterned nature of Chinese lyric poetry. Wang Wei (701-761 AD), painter and poet of the Tang era, revealed “tao” of inner landscape in concise poems.                    


Deep in the mountain wilderness
Where nobody ever comes
Only once in a great while
Something like the sound of a far off voice,
The low rays of the sun
Slip through the dark forest,
And gleam again on the shadowy moss.

Wang Wei (tr. Kenneth Rexroth)

In Wang’s poem, “tao” was rarely what it appeared to be. Images of landscape –trees, mountains, sunlight –probed the interconnection of nature and human life, but the poem’s “tao” becomes a voice within the poem, describing another landscape.

Four hundred years later, during the Southern Sung era, Lu Yu (1127-1209 AD), celebrated the quiet joys and experiences of everyday farm life.


Late blossoms left on the ground,
       shoots of bamboo poking up the mud;
the tea bowl, the poem bag—
       I took them wherever I went.
My dim dream just taking shape,
       who calls me back to waking?
By the window half in slanting sun
       a partridge cries.

Lu Yu (tr. Burton Watson)

Teapot, Wang Bing Rong -Zhi Guanxu Period

The appeal to our poetic sensibilities is simple and alluring. Images of an autumn garden, blossoms on the ground, etc are simply the body where the “tao” is free to move around. Indefinable and nameless, “tao” does not move well in non-image.

“Tao” does not define or explain; it points beyond itself to a meaning that is darkly divined yet still beyond our grasp, and cannot be adequately expressed in words.

It takes time to make a good cup of tea, steeping loose leaves in a tea pot of boiling water, approaching the experience of the moment, the perfect moment to enjoy life.


My medicine’s crude, yet the old farmer
       swears it really works;
my poems are shallow, yet the mountain monk
       has immoderate praise for their skill.
Cakes in pockets, with packets of tea
       they come to pay me a visit.
What harm if in the midst of loneliness
       we have one little laugh?

Lu Yu (tr. Burton Watson)

The poem goes beyond its words  –the subject is common, nothing much happens, there is no desire to invest it with symbolic meaning, and yet, it speaks to all people and all times. Like a good cup of tea, it takes time to savor its essence.

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10 Bay Area Artisans To Know Thu, 14 May 2020 16:09:00 +0000 …]]> It’s springtime and usually there is an assortment of art fairs and festivals to enjoy, but this spring is a little different.

If you are a Bay Area native and want to support your local artisans during the shelter in place; here are 10 wonderful artisans offering their work online.

Ling-Yen Designs

“I define jewelry as creations, which are useful, artistic, symbolic, identifying, and an expression of personal ideas. In my earring line, some of the motifs I use are leaves, birds, and windows. When these elements and others are integrated into a piece, they can represent new beginnings, changes, hope, and further growth in ones self. The materials that I enjoy using most are sterling silver, copper, gold, pearls, and semiprecious stones. My intention for each one-of-a-kind piece is that it is clean looking, distinctive, and artistically rendered.”  –Ling-Yen Designs on Etsy HERE

Sacred Laughter 

“I have trouble making two things alike and have a passion for producing pieces that bring the passions of others out into the world. The name of this company teaches a lesson to humanity, for it is important in my life, and to mankind, to find the ability to laugh at one’s self. Learn the joy and simplicity of life’s comic relief. For laughter is one of the most sacred sounds and one of life’s most important lessons” -Robin Senour of Sacred Laughter  Shop her Etsy HERE

Scents by the Bay

Scents by the Bay is a luxury home, bath and body company. They feature handcrafted Massage Oil Candles, Aromatherapy Jewelry, as well as Essential Oils. They also offer Soy Melts and Warmers, CBD topical skin care products, including a pain relieving line and lots more. You can find their phenomenal products at

Amy’s Almost Perfect

Check out local maker Amy’s Almost Perfect flour sack towels!  The towels are large at 24′ x 38″, washable, and fade resistant. The towels are screen printed with eco-friendly ink and the art consists of original pieces by Humboldt County artists! Years ago, homemakers would turn used flour sacks into quality towels, quilts, aprons, dresses, baby clothes, sunbonnets, undergarments, and bathing suits. You still can’t beat the old-fashioned flour sack towels, they’re all-natural, durable, and wonderful for adding sparkle to glassware. Find them here You can also check out her adorable pillows and other items on Etsy HERE

Toni Seymour

Kathy, of Sophisticated Beads; blends colors together into a unique piece of wearable art that manifests in soft and luscious hand beaded art jewelry and beaded scarves. Find them here

“I first thought I wanted to do tapestry weaving. But as I continued on this journey I found my passion was more in creating ‘functional art’. All unique designs are my very own. In 2009 I was diagnosed with a non-malignant brain tumor. After my first surgery, I knew all would be well when I woke up and found myself designing rugs in my head. My second surgery permanently closed my eyelid on the right eye. I am now a one-eyed weaver. Life is a journey of living and dying, breaking and healing, losing and finding. I found my way back to my passion, weaving.” – Toni Seymour
Find Toni Seymours truly unique weavings on Etsy HERE

Flood Glass

In love with colors and nature, Krista Flood celebrate these still moments in what is known as warm glass. Flood glass produces a unique high quality Art glass that is fused together at high heat in a glass kiln. The glass is cooled and then heated again to form and shape beautiful and unique hand made sculptures. These are original pieces of Art as well as functional artworks. The pieces range from Clocks, high-tech night lights, oyster and abalone shell dishes, to functional sculptural table centerpieces. Find these unique artworks here

San Anselmo artisan weaver, Ximena of Entrelanas Designs has beautiful woven shawls. They are available in her online store. These pieces are made with cotton and merino wool. The lightweight shawls are perfect for spring and summer! Shop them on Etsy HERE

Check out this beautiful, handcrafted jewelry created by Cheryl, of Arts Boheme. Her portfolio includes items like the Amethyst Stalactite Necklace pictured above, which features amethyst stones cut into roundels and then faceted to form a gorgeous, solid foundation. The focal stone is a slice from a magnificent amethyst stalactite. These are most commonly found in Brazil and Uruguay, stalactites on their own are extremely hard to come by and to find an amethyst stalactite is quite special and rare. These take thousands of years to form and are truly one of earth’s beautiful hidden gems. Perfect for those who desire the uncommon and wish to possess something exclusive. Arts Boheme has exactly what you’re looking for. Find beautiful, rare and unique pieces at

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Current Promotional Sale Thu, 14 May 2020 15:05:40 +0000 Two sisters, Meyla and Nevra, created Beksan Designs as a way to craft jewelry that reflects their Turkish heritage.

Shop their designs HERE. First time shoppers receive 20% Off and Free Shipping! 

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What’s Up Pasadena! Tue, 12 May 2020 22:06:25 +0000

What’s Up Pasadena!: Features the Pasadena Bead and Design Show, an artisan and craft fair at the Pasadena Hilton Hotel, offering a large selection of handcrafted beads, art jewelry & gems, as well as providing workshops and demonstrations.

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The Cashmere Crisis Tue, 12 May 2020 22:06:07 +0000 British photographer Andrew Newey has documented the lives of the Changpa nomads in Kashmir, examining the threats to their Pashmina wool production.

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Botanical Mind Online: Art, Mysticism and the Cosmic Tree Tue, 12 May 2020 22:05:38 +0000 …]]> Spring 2020 was to have been an appropriate season for the launch of one of the Camden Arts Centre’s most ambitious exhibitions to date. The Botanical Mind: Art, Mysticism and the Cosmic Tree is a major thematic group exhibition investigating the significance of the plant kingdom to human life, consciousness and spirituality, across cultures and through time. Lockdown prevented an actual launch and the exhibition itself is postponed but a complimentary online programme can now be viewed virtually. Read More

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Artisans Learning Ancient Craft Tue, 12 May 2020 16:56:57 +0000 At a training centre in Marrakesh, young people are learning how to keep the ancient traditions of Moroccan craftmanship alive.

Trainee artisans can choose from 22 different trades, such as wood engraving, stone masonry, pottery and leatherwork.

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Previous Promotional Sale Mon, 11 May 2020 22:50:05 +0000 …]]> This week enjoy a very special sale on Patricia Healey handcrafted copper. 15% off all copper beads and pendants and jewelry through April 30th. Shop HERE.

Patricia Healey in Tucson

Patricia Healey is a copper metal artist working in the Tucson countryside. After years of being a clothing designer Patricia transferred her skills to jewelry, and to copper. Her style is reflected in years of layering fabrics, one piece on top of another in an appliqué technique, forming pictures and patterns. Most of her work has an element of whimsy to it.

Wiley Coyote Howling Under a Full Moon Pendant Find it here

Each genuine copper bead and pendant is handmade from sheet metal. First cutting the shapes out, then put form to metal using the technique of “Repousse”. Using a bronze solder which you can sometimes see as bits of gold peeking through the solder seams. To get the rich colors we use our top secret patination formula and then fire it up with a torch. Finally, the color is sealed in with a metal lacquer.

Original Artwork by Patricia Healey, Materials ~ Copper, Brass, Lampwork Glass Beads, Japanese Seed Beads, Japanese Dichroic Bead. Find it here

Each genuine copper bead and pendant is handmade from sheet metal. First we cut the shapes out, then put form to metal using the technique of “Repousse”. We use a bronze solder which you can sometimes see as bits of gold peeking through the solder seams.

Heart and Arrow Toggle Closure Find it here

To get the rich colors we use our top secret patination formula and then fire it up with a torch. Finally, the color is sealed in with a metal lacquer.

Sunshine Flower with a Face Pendant Find it here

To help people stay creative, Patricia Healey is having a 15% off sale. Shop the whole collection on sale –

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The delicate material that takes months to weave by hand Mon, 11 May 2020 20:46:00 +0000 …]]> On the banks of the River Lakshya – just outside Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital – the sun is heating the tiny corrugated iron factory I am standing in to oven-like temperatures. Inside, under a string of bare light bulbs, six master weavers sit in pairs, barely breaking a sweat at their bamboo looms. Read more

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Upcoming Promotional Sale Sun, 10 May 2020 16:55:44 +0000 Featuring Elle of California’s collection of antique, vintage jewelry & collectibles. Specializing in estate collected Antique Asian ornaments, vintage Italian metal resin beads and design elements, vintage Czech glass, amber, sterling silver, semiprecious pieces, unusual objects, and more.

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