The sights and scents of spring seduce the senses for but a short period of time. As each new cluster of blossoms take shape, a new set dies away. One of my absolute favorite fragrances of  spring-time splendor is the Korean Spice Viburnum  (Viburnum carlesii).

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My first encounter with this overwhelmingly seductive blossom was back in my college days, walking through the labyrinth of paths that led to class. Spring had a remarkable way of lifting the spirits of the stress-filled college student consumed with papers, exams, and deadlines. Fortunately, landscaping was a priority at my University. No matter which path I took, there was a special batch of color and fragrance to welcome me, creating a beautiful, momentary amnesia that made me smile.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Korean Spice Viburnum was rather large on this campus, but by allowing the larger growth, it produced more blooms, filling the air with an exotically spicy scent. I actually passed by it for a couple of years before finally identifying the species. But I admit to snagging a couple of blossoms on my way to class to get my spring fix prior to being trapped inside the classroom.

Despite being long away from my alma mater, I still spot this variety in my spring travels, and am even lucky enough to have several outside of my office. As a woody-stemmed species, picking blossoms can be tricky, but with enough effort, and fingernails, you can easily fill a vase…or teapot… with these delightful spring ambassadors. As for their spring endurance, their sweet, but spicy, aroma can last for days indoors, and the proliferation of blooms on one large bush is rather sequential, providing a longer enjoyment over the spring season.

Of course, there is no better way to display these spring beauties than in a small teapot. With each blossom stem only being a couple of inches long, I opted for a small “bachelor teapot” from the early 19th century. A black basalt variety that was purchased in England, with the marking “Cyples” on the bottom, indicating a company that produced products in Staffordshire for a only a few decades. I adore the strength and beauty of black basalt or basaltes ware. Originally, it was advertised as “indestructible” since it is fashioned from ground stone and glass to provide a more durable product. My little beauty here has a couple of chips on the lid, which allows me to see the internal construction of a very fine black grain – not a black glaze over other material.

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I will cover black basalt pottery in future posts as I have more than one teapot to share, and feel these unique items should be more appreciated. Besides, there is an intriguing connection between the black basalt popularity and archaeology of the time…stay tuned!

P.S. Behind the Scenes:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor those of you with cats….you can understand the challenge of snapping a few photos within their domain! I know it was curiosity only, but hope the scent of spring gave them something new to enjoy as well. Cheers to a ‘scentsational’ spring!

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Teacup Eggstravaganza

Today, we’re going to feature EGGS, and, you guessed it: Teacups! Spring, with its little sister, Easter, provides some of my favorite opportunities for decorating around the house. Flowers come inside, chasing away the gloom of winter, and my tea wares switch over from darker hues to pastels. When Easter gets a little closer, my set of colored marble eggs makes an appearance wherever I need a spot of color. Since tea has become the newest guiding force in my house, teacups naturally welcomed these beauties…in ways that ensure they will make repeated appearances every year from this moment on!

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This first little gem is a 20th century version of Pink Splatter Lusterware. The popularity of this type of china has survived centuries, but was still being made as late as the mid 1900s. Mine is one of the more recent creations from England: Gray’s Pottery, Stoke-On-Trent. Note the contrast of the plastic grass in the white china with pink surroundings. Simple, inexpensive, and a bit retro since we all grew up with this look in our Easter baskets!

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Of course, nothing says “spring” like Wedgwood Jasperware – in PINK! One of my absolute favorite teacups, no matter the season. Again, not a very old tea cup, rather, a more recent mid-century Wedgwood.

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A side addiction that has developed out of my tea addiction is 18th century antiques. This one was sold to me as a “Chinese Export” piece from the late 1790s. Could be…I’m not an expert on collecting 18th century wares just yet, but I’m starting to see the difference when examining closely and holding in my hands. They say the best way to learn about antiques is from an up close and personal examination – as frequently as possible.

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Another 18th century beauty, of the “Famille Rose” variety. This describes the motif choices applied to the porcelain in the form of pink dominant enamel.

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This is a close-up of the beautiful, and delicate, detailing inside another 18th century tea cup, or bowl.

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And now for an alternative to the green nesting material used in some of the previous pictures. Honestly, any dried herb will work here, but this little white flower provides just the right accent and cushion for the egg – or the cup/bowl – I admit, the marble eggs make me a tad nervous with delicate 18th century porcelain. Dried chamomile, or better yet, roman chamomile would compliment beautifully. Since we already make tea from chamomile, the imagery would have a lovely double meaning. I also believe that the natural look is more fitting with the 18th century tea bowls. After all, why not try something that would befit an 18th century retro look…at least retro for those from the 19th and 18th centuries! Happy Easter, my Tea Lovelies!