Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Brooklyn Treasures - Pt.2

Back in Brooklyn with Kingston, I was admiring his teapots and enjoying some puer. He keeps most of his collection in his tearoom but there's a more precious selection he stores in his home. When we had enough tea, we went usptairs to see the pieces he keeps closest to his heart. Here's a quick look at just some of the antiques he's collected over time. Sadly the photos can't convey the variety of textures and weight that are a part of appreciating these works of art.

An aged yellow clay (duan-ni) teapot can develop a rich hue and natural glow from years of use. Here's a great example of teapot with a traditional overhead handle.
A trio of small, well crafted gongfu teapots.

But Kingston had even smaller ones to show me:
I put my IPhone down for size reference. Kingston told me that the tiniest one is actually hand made and not from a mold. The cups are also exquisite miniatures but they lose a sense of proportion next to the pot.

An antique yixing clay double boiler for cooking ginseng. Nowadays, you can purchase modern, electric cookers lined with Yixing clay.
At first glance these teapots look like they're made from the yellow yixing clay but they are actually made from the rarer white clay. The one in the background is newer and had a slight greenish-yellow tint. Because of it's shape and hue it resembled a ripe honeydew.
Two lavishly glazed teapots with very different depictions of butterflies flitting among flowers.

A set of Song Dynasty wine cups. The only other cups I've seen of this size belong to Winnie. You can see them on an old post about Song Dynasty ceramics. Kingston explained how the rich, ebony color I was looking at was actually a very thick and translucent dark-mahogany glaze. He shined an intense light into the cup's interior to reveal its secret layers.
It looked like a glimmer of gold treasure shining from the depths of the darkest cavern.
I was getting a little overwhelmed with all the pretty things filling up my vision and Kingston's wealth of information but he still had more to share...

till next time!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Brooklyn Treasures - Pt.1

I recently spent the day with Kingston, a Tea Gallery friend and patron who's amassed a lovely collection of old and modern Yixing teapots and some beautiful vintage porcelains. Many of his pieces are on display in his Brooklyn basement turned tearoom. We drank aged puer sitting on antique furniture (from Michael) and I got to feast my eyes on some stunning pieces. He was happy to let me take photos and share a small fraction of what he has with my internet friends. Here's a quick glimpse of what I got to see:

An elaborately decorated, large gaiwan with a rare feature:
A different style of saucer that I wish we still saw today.

Unfortunately, I've already forgotten how old these antique cups are. There was so much to see it was a little overwhelming. Maybe Kingston can leave a note about them in the comments section. They're beautiful and perfectly intact.

A complete western style tea set with two different types of cups for export made with Yixing clay in a retro colored glaze.

Kingston has shelves and shelves of teapots. We made plans for a future get together to better document each of his teapots. He has a diverse selection, from the very simple to the richly detailed:
I expected the lotus seeds on top to move independently from the rest of the lid but I was surprised that the eyes of the frog were also separate moving pieces.

I could barely pay attention to the tea Kingston was serving. There was so much to distract me.

A pair of yellow (duan-ni) XuiPing teapots. It may be difficult to tell from the photos but the foreground teapot is a darker shade with a glossier sheen from years of use by Kingston. He left the other pristine to show the difference. More remarkable was how much smoother the skin of the used pot felt from it's untouched twin. That's something else we don't hear too much about. Many people know that teapots darken and develop a rich patina with use. But the texture can also be altered. A pot with a sandy textured surface like these duan-ni pots can feel smoother after some years of use.

This was just the first hour of my visit. Kingston laughed at my excitement over his collection. "This is nothing", he said, " I haven't even shown you the old stuff."

to be continued...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Little Peek

Now that our teapot section is up on our website I've been receiving questions from people eager to see what other Yixing teapots we'll be selling. Since we're not as fast at posting new products as some would like, I've decided a quick preview of what's to come is the least our clients deserve. And I had to catalogue them anyway...

These are just some of what we'll be carrying in the future and we want to share a good mix of colors and styles. All of these pots were picked by Winnie or Michael and they have been part of the collection and the backdrop of Tea Gallery life for years. Another reason for the delay is Winne's attachment to her pots and she'll vacillate from selling to keeping a pot over the course of a few days. I understand the sentimental values she has for her pots but I've had a heck of a time keeping track of what can get sold and what can't.

I think she'd keep them all if she could but we really need to make room for some of the other teapots she found!

Well, it's back to work for me and these teapots but I hope this little look satisfied some curiosities...