Inspiration in a teacup

For the better part of a week, I’d been searching for a teacup. Something I could take to work, something that would not be mass-produced or corporate-branded. I wanted a yunomi, a Japanese teacup with no handle. Smaller than the chawan used in the tea ceremony, the yunomi is more personal.

Two days ago, I happened upon an artist lineup for the Brookside Art Annual, and there was a good mix of media – photography, painting, wood, and ceramics. This might be it, and it’s this weekend! I left work at 5 pm on Friday and headed south to Brookside. I took a brisk pace through the tents – no time to linger, although I saw plenty of great work. Plenty of artists working in ceramics, and a few were getting close to what I was looking for – objects in subdued colors, calming and friendly, not shiny or too bright. But nobody made teacups.

In the last ceramic booth in the last row of tents, I finally found it. The booth of Tara Dawley. A local artist and teacher at Red Star Studios, Tara’s work was peaceful, inviting without shouting. Best of all, she creates objects you live with, interact with.

I bought a teacup, wishing I could afford more, but grateful for the pure chance that brought me there. The women operating the booth mentioned that Tara was ill, which explained why I didn’t get to meet her.

Yesterday, I learned in the newspaper that Tara had developed pneumonia while traveling to an art show in Florida. Her friends had somehow convinced the host organization to allow them to operate her booth in her absence – a beautiful act of love and kindness on everyone’s part.

I’ve had a few days to live with my teacup. I’ve used it while visiting with my mom, while working at my own craft, and while eating breakfast with my family. I began my search with the intention of buying a teacup for work. Now that I’ve found it, I’m not at all sure that’s where I need it to be.

My teacup is nothing like I pictured, but it’s exactly what I wanted.

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