Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tea Time with Buddha

Probably one of the best things that has happened to me as a result of managing the Mind Body Spirit Marketplace on 1000 Markets, is being continually exposed to such a wide variety of amazing artists and craft people.  I know I say that over and over...but it's really true.

For quite awhile now I had been witnessing a very enjoyable parade of work from artist PattyMara Gourley come in and go out of the marketplace.  PattyMara is a very lively, vibrant, inspirational California/New Mexico artist who expresses herself quite skillfully through a wide variety of mediums.  Silk painting, poetry, collage and ceramics to just name a few.  I think in over the year's time I had seen her make little of everything, except teapots.  So I emailed her one day and asked her about it.

My husband and I have collected teapots on and off for years going back to when I taught art classes at Craft Alliance Center for the Visual Arts in St. Louis, and somehow got talked into becoming a docent for one of their International Teapot Shows.  I learned more about teapots during that time period then anyone ever needs to know during their lifetime, but also developed a deep appreciation for the art form as a unique style of individual expression.

PattyMara got back to me.  Yes, she did make teapots but had not done so in a long time.  OK, that's fine...but I told her if she ever got around to making them again in the future, let me know.  I honestly thought that was the end of it until I saw a posting from her on Facebook one day that she was doing some new ceramic work, and among the pieces...teapots.  OK, I thought... I was going to have to keep an eye on her.

The story then took a couple of interesting, creative turns.  Some time passed and I read (again on Facebook) that PattyMara was coming along very well on her teapots and had evidently commissioned our mutual friend Manny, who designs jewelry (Mannybeads), to make some cairn stacks that she was going use on the pieces.  humm  I was trying to visualize that....(without success).  In fact every time I tried to even imagine what a PattyMara teapot would even look like, I just had no idea.  Knowing her it would probably end up pink and purple *with stars* and I had no clue how Manny was going to fit into it all.

Tease pictures of the teapots in process were eventually posted. The Buddha faced pot that I saw reached out and touched my soul.  Hey Patty, I wrote...I'd be really interested in that Buddha Teapot when you get it finished.... OK, was the reply....I'll email you before I list them.  I never heard back from her.

Well the pots were eventually listed online for sale.  They were not pink or purple, but instead a beautiful earthenware color that comes from the New Mexico Mica Clay that PattyMara uses for her ceramic work.  Manny's turquoise cairn stack complimented the top of the Buddha teapot perfectly.  The 2nd teapot PattyMara constructed was every bit as lovely.  No Buddha face, but another wonderful cairn stack and recycled silk threads from an old sari that had been wrapped around some bamboo for the handle.

In passing one evening I logged into 1000 Markets and showed my husband, Alan, the teapots.  I mentioned how much I liked them and I thought that maybe one would make a nice addition to our collection.  He liked both of them but really thought the pot with the wrapped handle was pretty unique.  Of course I couldn't get past the Buddha face.  Alan said he really didn't care which one we got, he liked them both....so my choice. I said I would give it some thought and then...completely forgot about it.

A week or two later I saw PattyMara's announcement on her Facebook Fan Page.  The Buddha pot had sold.  Well crap, I thought.  After all this, I really blew that opportunity.  Our Anniversary happened to be coming up and a few days later my husband told me that a package would be arriving soon...not to open it.  I was honestly kind of surprised that he even thought about ordering a gift, but once again I forgot about it (eye roll)...until it arrived... humm....from PattyMara Gorley.

Alan put the delivery on the table in the living room and it stayed there for a good week.  When I asked about the package, his response was...."what package?".  At one point I even posted on my Facebook page about the package.  What could it be?  Everyone was begging me to open it.  Of course I was already about 99% sure what it was, and although I was dying to see it...I let it sit.

Buddy and I opened the package with the wonderful Buddha teapot on my anniversary.  Buddy, one of our 3 Pugs, likes to be involved when any delivery boxes are opened (ever since someone sent him a sample of Bark-Scotti a few months ago).  The teapot is even more stunning in person then in the pictures.  The construction very solid, the Buddha face even more poignant.  I can tell it comes from a very well seasoned, experienced potter.

The inspiration behind the teapot is quite interesting... In PattyMara's own words

"I have found inspiration for this teapot from the Yixing tradition of China's Sung Dynasty, which also uses unglazed, burnished clay with a high mica content. In the strict Yixing tradition only one variety of tea is used for each pot so that after a time, one can just add hot water to brew tea from the accumulated flavoring."

Eventually Alan and I will make tea in the pot.  We need to settle on one particular variety though so that we can continue the tradition.  For now, I think I'm going to let this special teapot spend some time with me in my studio. Something tells me that it has already formed a cross cultural kinship with Kenny Scharf's three eyed dog, Dogeyeguy...my Matryoshkas, Tibetan bell and of course the Milagro Crosses.
And I wouldn't expect anything less from a PattyMara piece of art!

~ diane

To see more of PattyMara's work, you may enjoy reading:
Day of the Dead (El dia de los Muertos) 

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Buttermilk Drink for the Thirsty Traveller

There was a time when walking was one of the most prevalent modes of travel in India. When train services were scarce, when cars were only for the super rich, when only a few could afford a bicycle, folks traveled by foot--whether visiting a relative across the town or a village away. Southern summers can be hot with daytime temperatures often as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Leaving an earthenware pot filled with water or better still, with a freshly made buttermilk drink, on the front verandah of the house or the street corner or at the village entrance is an old tradition in Southern India--a way of saying welcome and take a rest to the hot and tired traveler even if he was a stranger.

A lot has changed in India in the last two decades. Single family homes with front porches are increasingly replaced with multistoried gated condo communities. Long distance travel is now done via planes, trains, buses and cars and, public transportation, auto-rickshaws and two-wheel scooters are the modes of local travel. Yet, one thing still remains the same--the hot summer and the need for cold water to quench the thirst and to cool the body. And, the tradition of providing free buttermilk drink continues while adapting to the new realities of travel and condo living.

At the condo community where my sister and mother live, my sister has set up a spot under a large shady tree where a pot filled with fresh buttermilk awaits all who drop in during the day. These are mostly service personnel like the watchman, janitor, pushcart vendors, maids, the guy who comes on the weekend to iron the clothes and others. To these folks who commute by bus or bike to work and then toil in the hot sun, the cool drink offers a refreshing relief. Every morning around 10 o'clock, the buttermilk drink is prepared in our kitchen and then poured into the pot and set up in the yard. By late afternoon, it is usually all finished.

Preparing the drink is extra work for our housekeeper and my sister spends about 45 rupees ($1) per day on the milk for the yogurt (not a small amount for India). Yet, it is a nice way of saying thank you to the men and women servicing her community.

Recipe for Buttermilk drink


Fresh homemade yogurt (or store bought yogurt) half a cup
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Freshly ground cumin to taste
Salt to taste
Freshly ground red pepper flakes (optional)
Fresh coriander finely chopped

Using a whisk churn the yogurt and dilute it with water. For half a cup of yogurt, add approximately a quarter cup of water. The yogurt should be diluted to a water-like consistency but without losing the taste of yogurt.

Add all the ground spices and salt. The taste of the spices and the salt should not overwhelm the taste of yogurt.

Chill in the refrigerator.

Sprinkle the coriander on top before serving.

~ Indira Govindan

We'd like to thank Indira for continuing to share her blog entries and travel adventures with us.
You can read more wonderful selections from Indira's blog at http://dharmakarmaarts.blogspot.com/ and also view her jewelry and artwork located in her shops on etsy.

Related Posts:
The Art of Mehndi

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Beltane Blessings

We originally ran this blog post last May 1st on the Mind Body Spirit Marketplace Blog on 1000 Markets.  Everyone loved it so much I decided to post it again this year.  Thank you so much Nellie and Emily for such a beautiful piece!

It seems that everyone I talk to is impatient for warm and sunny days, tired of the cloud cover and chill air of the darker half of the year. I'm certainly ready to celebrate the green growth of spring! This desire to feel sun on our skin and soil beneath our fingernails makes Beltane - or May Day as it is generally practiced today - such a comfortable, accessible holiday. May Day is widely and openly celebrated through the British Isles, as well as in many places in the US. People dance around the May Pole, sit by bonfires, and gladly toss their winter worries away as they look ahead to brighter days. Dreams come back to life, as we draw upon the fertile energy of the day.

Traditionally, Beltane was celebrated by the Celts with much dancing, drinking, music, merriment, and romance. It was one of the two most important of their celebrations - celebrating the light half of the year. The name Beltane is believed to mean "fires of Bel" and honors the ancient sun god Beli, or Belanus. Druids looked after the Beltane fires, by which people and their livestock would pass, with the belief that they would be cleansing themselves of the illness or misfortunes they may have experienced through winter, and perhaps blessing them with good fortune for the months to come.
We can light our own bonfires, and we can honor any deity we like... We can make a May Pole or just make some music... what I think is important if we are to celebrate Beltane today is that essential message of taking a deep breath of fresh spring air, embracing the renewed life of warmer seasons, purifying ourselves of our past troubles, and looking with openness to the growth ahead.

About the artwork... This is the beautiful May Queen by Emily Balivet. Please take a look at her shop, for exquisite mythological goddess art.

~ Nellie Levine

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Artist,Writer, Jewelry Design