Developing heightened appreciations can be a wonderful albeit dangerous journey. Surrounding oneself with newly awakened pleasures can lead to generating all manner of collections which can get out of control. When it comes to tasting tea, this can mean a pantry full of teabags and loose leaf teas in a jumble of packets, boxes and canisters. When it comes to steeping tea, this can mean a drawer full of strainers, sachets, thermometers and timers. When it comes to serving tea, the cupboard may be bursting with a myriad of mugs, tea cups, and teapots. But when this heightened appreciation is focused on exquisitely designed teaware, the collection which may ensue probably deserves to be a visible part of our home and not simply stashed behind opaque doors or drawer fronts.

Whether it be behind glass in a breakfront cabinet, set on a tray atop the buffet, or on a mantel shelf, consider placing teaware collections out where they can be appreciated whether or not it’s tea time. A collection of related teaware pieces can speak to the owner’s special passions and give unique personality to the spaces where we live. From an artistic perspective, a collection can easily become elements of a still life composition and thus more than the sum of the parts. And setting one’s own household objects about the home with an artful eye toward their placement and sculptural beauty can truly be a spiritual pursuit. This is, of course, what feng shui is largely about.

I recently saw an interesting exhibit which glorifies this art of composing items from a collection. The Freer & Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian have opened their stored collection of miscellaneous Asian Ceramics to Australian potter, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott. Ms. Pigott is a ceramicist who displays her own porcelain pieces in still life clusters. This time, she was given the special project of creating “Parades” of vintage ceramic wonders from the Smithsonian collection without having to tell a historical, regional or chronological story for the museum. Here, the goal was purely aesthetic. Take a look for yourself at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery website.

But don’t restrict yourself to thinking of this pursuit as one limited to artists for museum installations. Everyone who collects anything ought to be making use of their acquisitions in this way. In fact, it can begin to help us narrow the scope of our collections and reduce the clutter. Once we begin to get a feel for which elements feel akin as part of the group or as effective contrasts within the group, certain pieces will seem “not to belong” or “not to enhance” the collection as a whole. Those are the items we ought to consider purging from the collection. And while we’re able to photograph or even paint our teaware still lifes for perpetuity, the fun of a collection is in the infinite options of re-organizing and re-arranging the parts. Pulling out a teapot for afternoon tea can be the impetus for creating this evening’s newest still life.