I began the development of my custom teacup with tremendous excitement and minor trepidation if I’m being completely honest. Here’s where my artistic abilities would surely come into play. No more excuses about being a frustrated artist who was limited by her lack of inherent talent.
I thought about all of my favorite tea cups, all handcrafted and tried to consider what elements made them special to me. The underlying theme was actually one of art. Holding a piece of art in my hand while I sipped my favorite tea brought tremendous pleasure into the ritual for me. Looking closer, however, I knew that I liked to hold the cup directly in my hand, eliminating handles of any sort. The mouth feel on my lips was also important which for my taste was a thin rim. The majority of my favorite teacups were made of ceramic or porcelain. Although I enjoyed drinking from my Bodum double walled tea cup, it just didn’t feel handmade. For me, handmade is not perfect. There are imperfections inherent in handmade pieces making each one different from another.
I soon discovered that this was a learning process for Rochester Glass as well. I was the first tea lover to design a custom tea cup. Robin reports that they are working on a “’basic design options intake questionnaire’ right now that has a variety of basic cup, handle, body and saucer design silhouettes from which Patrons can then choose along with some other options such as colors and embellishments. That should simplify the initial choices and considerations a great deal for everyone to allow for a faster turnaround on the sketches/drawings for consideration.”
Once I identified that I wanted an “Asian” style cup, we started with silhouette designs which would establish the basic shape without clouding the issue with color and other design elements. The first one that was presented to me was interesting, but I wasn’t happy with the dish. It felt too modern for me.
The next phase further detailed the concept and shape. Should the cup have straighter sides or be more flared from the base? Should it be taller? How many ounces should it hold? I must admit that it wasn’t easy for me to make a commitment. I just didn’t know for sure which would end up being most desirable for me in the end. At some point, I realized that I would allow the artist to use his judgment and help make some decisions, having had a good sense of what I thought I might like.
The last aspect related to color and design elements. As one who gets nervous having to choose paint colors for my walls, this felt a bit scary to me. It was suggested that perhaps using a lotus leaf as inspiration might lend it itself to an interesting element within the cup. I took a deep breath and we forged ahead. A week later, my cup was completed.
The cup arrived extremely well packed – they do not mess around. No way this was going to suffer any damage. When I carefully unpacked the cup, I was clearly looking at a piece of art. The truth is, it wasn’t exactly what I had expected. The petals stood out further than I had envisioned. How was I going to hold this comfortably in my hands? I carefully washed it and dried it and began my preparation of tea. I poured it into the cup and again, marveled at the beauty. I could hardly stop smiling. I had to play around a bit with the orientation but once I found the sweet spot, we were good to go. I needed to orient myself to the extended petal so that my hands could be comfortable as I brought the tea to my lips. Hum…….heaven. Somehow, holding a piece of art in your hand and getting to actually use it every day is a pleasure that never ceases to delight me.
I asked Robin to share a bit more about Rochester Glassworks, to help give you a better feel for who they are and what they’re trying to accomplish.
“Our motto at Exquisiteaware by Rochester Glassworks is, ‘Your tea never looked so good!’ Unlike many organizations, we truly believe in and follow our core company values in every contact we have with anyone.
Quality – Quality trumps all production considerations.
Empathy – For patrons, their needs and desires.
Relationships – Patrons are family – treat them like a good family should be treated.
Advocacy – Create work and relationships people WANT to tell others about.
“We’re an American start-up and not afraid to tell people. There’s never been a better time to not only purchase a unique piece of American art but also to potentially buy the first pieces of what may be future Master glass artists in the field.
“We’re artists helping other artists concentrate on doing what they do best, create beautiful work without having to spend time and effort doing what they don’t do best, marketing and selling their work… Plus, we really love tea and teaware.”
The cost to create a custom tea cup like mine is $194.00. When you consider the amount of time it takes to develop a piece according to your unique wishes and end up with a beautiful, custom, usable piece of art it’s very reasonable. Factor in the potential for appreciation as an art piece, which for me, pales in comparison to the daily pleasure of use, and it sounds like a bargain to me.
If you’re ever looking for a truly inspirational gift for your favorite tea drinker, I can’t imagine anything better. Unless you decide to make one for yourself first, however, I think you’ll be very envious of them each time you watch them enjoying your gift.
Images provided by the author.
View Part 1 of this post here.