Sunday, January 25, 2015

Notes from Qiu Shan Tang 秋山堂



When I was leaving for my first visit of Taiwan last spring, I promised myself to take many pictures, making notes and then share as much as possible here, for my curious readers. Yes, I took over thousand pictures. Yes, I put down some notes about my "pots and tea" experiences. Just that sharing part is missing. My good friend Daniel, who joined me on that trip, just posted some of his notes, memories and pictures on their blog. Thank you Dan!


Enjoy the reading here: Tea Lesson with Fang LaoShi.


I love that place and there are already some plans to go back, to meet friend over tea, to learn and go deeper. If you will find yourself in Taichung one day, you might want to make some space and stay there for a while. Be sure you are not in hurry, it is worth it.


Here are few shots from my camera...







Bowl tea after...



Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Gems number twenty four, twenty five, twenty six...


Dear readers, followers, friends, it have been a while. We are in the middle of winter, snow was here, now is gone. But clouds are still full a water and cold is going to be back soon. Few friends recently asked me if I am closing my "Ten Gems Of Ten Kilns" project. No! I am still putting aside some interesting pieces from our firings. And there is so many things going on, with many "pots and tea stories". This blog is slow but not dead. My tea and tea ware path has grown deeper during the past year. And it keeps growing...

What I am going to present here today is piece of memory for me. Chawan from hot summer days kiln, Autumnal but still warming teapot and winter teapot, which was fired in last firing of the year. Maybe even from pictures here you can feel how seasons were changing...


Our garden during last firing...


I like when pots call out our imagination, telling mysterious stories. Storytellers who starts to talk, when you hold them in your hands. For my Gem Collection, I always try to select pieces from this category. I also believe that those are going to age well, becoming part of your live. When you make a connection with such pots, by using them for teas you like and sharing that tea with your loved ones, your live is getting richer. It is not about clinging on "stuff". It is about living here and now. Tea creates intimate moments in our daily live and pots become comrades who are with us there.

The chawan was painted with white kaolin clay, then covered in crust of ice crackle glaze. Its "ice over a landscape" feeling is one of the reasons why it was chosen as The Gem of summer kiln. Another reason is the white paint and how it is going out of the glaze, letting us to dream, to picture there "our things"

The teapot is even more fogged up. Its spruce forest near peat bog pool. Maybe I am getting too dreamy and wistful thanks to misty rain behind our windows. But if you would hold that pot in your hands you would know what I am talking about. It is not just about the green-khaki color, but as well about the velvet touch of the glaze and its "soft" shape.

The small winter teapot is from drawer you already know. We can call is "Bizenish" and I like this style more and more. Simple colors created by heavy reduction of charcoal, on high iron clay. We use several clays for this firing technique and for this teapot I used the most red and the finest clay we have. It is very subtle. There is not much to say, it is better use it...

Before taking look at new gems, say goodbye to gems number fourteen and fifteen. The small Cockerel is already in Shanghai, the Charm and The End of The Winter teapots are going to be on the road soon. I know that all three customers love tea. Those pots are in good hands.




For more pictures of the new pieces please visit this page. If the Ten Gems of The Ten Kilns project is new for you, then please read this post first.

Gem number twenty four- The Summer Ice






Gem number twenty four- The Froggy Haze





Gem number twenty six- The Crescent shine








Winter bamboo...

Thank you for reading



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sun Moon Lake Teapots



I have spend this year April on Taiwan, you know, pots and tea. It was amazing time and to call it rich and joyful month would be understatement. It was inspirational on so many levels and it is still live. To give you a glance into it, here is one story...

The Lake from Tea research institut, where new clones and tea varietals are developing for decades now...



Sun Moon Lake...for many years it was a symbol of Taiwanese hong cha for me. Red tea, which I love for its unique flavor and energy and which often came to me labeled "tea from Sun Moon Lake area". I did know much about this terior or what to exactly imagine under this name. But when I bought my air ticket to Formosa, the 日月潭 was already on my have-to-see list. If you give a quick search on google images, you will see wonderful lake with mountains around, hotels and tourists but not tea fields. Well, there is a lot to see (and taste) for tea enthusiastic around that place when one drive up from Nantou. But tea finally was not the most precious thing, which I was carrying from that place this time. Nor teapot from local artist. Just ball of wet, yellow, greasy (and bit smelly) clay.



note: for those who would like to read more about background of Taiwanese hong cha I would like to recomment this post on Taiwan Tea Craft blog



How it all have happened? It is so simple. Take three open minded/open hearted friends traveling together for days, combine those with a lot of tea and magical experiences around Sun Moon Lake, and you can bet that one of them is going to suggest swiming. It tooks us a while to find the right spot where "people will be not too many and jungle not too tight". But we did it and with a lot of laughter we were baptized (and refreshed) in Zintun (as Taiwanesse originally call it)



 One of my friends then just reach the bed of the lake (ok, on the edge of bank and water). With words "Petr, this looks like something for you", he give me a small piece of Formosa island. At first touch I knew: I am going to take it with me, I am going to give it a try in fire. It can be slip glaze, it can be body for some small cups, we will see...


After some intermezzos the clay finally land on my work table, in our studio. As intermezzo you can, for example, imagine me, carrying 900g of clay in my jacket, during 7 hours night break on Dubai airport as all my luggage were overweight. Real fun!!... I play with it for a while, thinking what to do with it and how to do it. The clay was very nice, plastic and quite clean (when we consider that it was grabbed from bank of a lake). So I decided to leave it as natural as possible. I just took of some bigger stones, some sharp, smaller ones and few chips of old wood, which I found in it.



First, I make just test cones and put them in to our wood kiln. Such cones, laid out around kiln, can tell us a lot about any new clay. Color, texture but the main thing: How it stands in reduction firing and temperatures.

After this first firing I was pretty sure: It is on the the edge, but there is big chance that this clay will survive in coldest part of our kiln.




So final decision was not to make slip glaze, not bother with small cups. But directly take a chances and make some teapots from that mud! Well, we were three friends on that swimming spot. And as part of this trip, I still had Philip Brook from TaiwansesTeaCraft in my mind, we were happy to meet that day too (he was responsible for the tea in our veins and for much more of the good stuff along the road). So let's make four teapots from bottom of Sun Moon Lake!










What to say more? All important you can see on pictures. The clay was very nice to work with and final teapots are very interesting. Color and texture of the body, "the feeling" is incredible. Because I did not cleaned that clay, there were still some small stones, which on one hand give something special to those small pots. On other hand those stones were my obstacles during throwing and finishing. Pot could be finer without them, losing the rural touch. Either way, these are really unique tea pots. Some Sun Moon Lake hong cha is on its way to my doors. Guess which teapot I am going to brew that tea in.





Bisque fired...

In the kiln...

...with others, before firing.

First peep in to the kiln...








Friendly tea chatting...

First water, first leaves...


Sun Moon Lake in the middle of Europe...

Thank you for reading!