I recently had the opportunity to reconnect with Kate over a cup of tea and share our commitment to tea enjoyment and education. She gave me permission to republish this wonderful article and suggestion for another creative way to celebrate our tea-ism. 

Tea Inspires Art

If a beverage can be an inspiration, tea is mine. I need to explain why this is true. In February, the Arts Guild of Sonoma in California invited me to be a guest artist for their annual Repo Show, a fundraiser for arts programs in Sonoma Valley. The Guild asked artists to use recycled objects and materials in their pieces. So once again, the challenge was on to create something engaging from so-called trash.

After weeks of hand-wringing over an idea for the show, I found a battered and well-worn teapot at a local yard sale. Imagine a cartoon light bulb shining over my head. Once I had it home, I began to glue toys, marbles, stickers, spools, pencil sharpeners, ear plugs, and much, much more onto its surface. I found a magnet and glued that onto the lid, later adding metal bells that conveniently stuck to the magnet. At a local art store, I found charms, letters, and metal bits, as well as text. One phrase in particular caught my eye –  “Have Fun!” I glued it all onto the pot using a hot glue gun.

As an added bonus, I wrote ways to have fun on slips of paper and I tossed those into the pot. One paper said: “Think of a silly laugh and use it frequently each day.” This idea came from a job I had had at a military base writing curriculum and training for the enlisted troops. It was a very tough assignment, and one of the consultants, Joe, told us to make up a silly laugh. We did. After a tense meeting (and the Master Chief left the room), Joe laughed his silly laugh, we all joined in, and the mood lightened. I also added suggestions to play more each day and so on. Time to brew up some fun!

After hours of fun making this enhanced teapot, I stood back to admire my work and laughed outloud. Really, it looked so funny. The title, as you can imagine, was already clear: “Have Fun Teapot with Magneto-Bell Lid and Fuchsia Tail.” I was very satisfied when people saw the teapot and also laughed. Not every artist can boast that people laugh at their art. Many folks had fun looking at and pointing out the metal camera on the lid and other odd bits.

Looking back now and with the advantage of hindsight, it makes sense that I would repurpose a teapot for the Repo Show fundraiser. I love my 4-5 cups of tea each day. When my long-used teapot cracked one morning and leaked like a sieve, its life over, I felt like I had lost a trusted, old friend. Perhaps like me you get attached things like a simple teapot, which allows me to start each day with a tea-making ritual, waking to the delicate aroma of an Earl Grey or a sublime Yunnan with a slightly smoky scent and sipping the hot, dark brew with just a hint of honey for sweetness.

Can something as simple as tea or an ordinary teapot inspire someone? I know it can – it inspired me. Now I start each morning with a silly laugh before taking my first sip of tea.

This article has been updated from the original publication in 2013.