這次創作的小小高台杯，用來喝茶和清酒都合適。靈感源於高腳酒杯和蛋杯，有次在網絡上意外地看到原來高腳酒杯流行的起源是因為宮廷的中毒事件，當僕人只能手握杯柄而不能觸碰杯身時，就可以大大減低了下毒的可能性。我沒有去證實這段歷史的真偽，只覺得避開觸碰杯身的手勢意外地優雅，非常適合在茶席中使用。二來，我很喜歡人們用蛋杯吃蛋的實用性和不自覺地添加的儀式感 —— 我認為這是在日常生活中，最重要的事。
Potters and Tea
When learning pottery, beginners often start by making cups, bowls, and plates, which are relatively easier to handle. However, making a teapot is considered a “boss level” challenge due to its complex structure, which includes the body, spout, lid, handle, and other components. When making a teapot, all of these parts must be completed and assembled within a specified time frame. The assembly process also requires careful attention to balance, taking into account the aesthetic outlook, water flow, ergonomics, and a bit of luck. It is understandable that firing a good teapot is an extremely difficult task, and that is why I believe a potter’s skills and practice can be judged by the quality of their teapot creations.
We love drinking tea and enjoying dim sum in tea houses. Our tea ware is inspired by our experiences of drinking tea in Hong Kong-style tea houses. That’s why our teapots were initially designed to be larger, closer in size to the teapots commonly used in restaurants, and the tea cups were also larger.
Reflecting on when we first began creating tea ware, we must admit that we knew very little about traditional Chinese tea culture and how to truly appreciate tea. We were like newborn babies learning to walk, exploring with our own feelings and limited experiences.
As time went on, we became increasingly aware of our own limitations and recognized the importance of understanding more about tea. We therefore embarked on a journey to learn about traditional Chinese tea culture.
Formal introduction to tea culture
Understanding the six basic categories of tea was just the beginning of our journey to learn about tea. We soon discovered that different types of tea require specific brewing techniques and that making a cup of tea is much more than simply pouring hot water into a teapot and then transferring the tea to a cup.
Even when using the same type of tea, variations in water temperature, steeping time, and tea ware can produce vastly different flavors, aromas, and colors. It’s similar to the process of using a camera, where finding the perfect balance between ISO, shutter speed, and aperture is crucial. Any change in one element requires adjustments in the other two, and even subtle variations can significantly impact the taste of a cup of tea.
Each step of the tea ceremony is interrelated and interconnected
However, the impact of brewing techniques on the taste of tea is just one aspect. Understanding the history and rituals of tea culture is also an essential part of the learning process.
Initially, I thought that the process of preparing tea ware and water, performing the tea service, and conducting various brews would be monotonous and repetitive. However, as the tea ceremony progressed, I found myself becoming highly concentrated and focused, leading to a sense of calmness. I wasn’t certain if this sense of calmness was what is known as the state of flow, but it reminded me of the feeling I experienced when sitting in front of a pottery wheel after kneading and ready to wrestle with the clay.
After brewing the tea, I first observed its color before picking up the teacup to feel its texture and the temperature of the tea inside. I brought my nose closer to inhale the tea’s aroma and then took a sip of the hot liquid, which smoothly flowed over my lips and onto my tongue. I savored the changing taste of the tea on my taste buds and down my throat, feeling my body gradually warming up and starting to sweat, while my mind slowly calmed down.
By engaging all of my five senses to appreciate a cup of tea, I felt a profound sense of how it allows us to appreciate the beauty of nature and craftsmanship in our daily lives.
Discovering and nourishing oneself through creation
With a newfound appreciation for tea, we continued our journey of exploring ceramic art. However, there is one question that constantly weighs on our minds: What should a ware hold inside?
While we often focus on the relationship between humans and objects, it is equally important to acknowledge the connection between wares and the contents they hold, such as tea and food. Even when using the same type of tea, the taste can vary depending on the tea ware used to brew or drink it.
As a creator myself, I have come to realize that good wares and vessels should not be solely focused on showcasing the creator’s personality. The more a creator attempts to highlight their skills, the more their work may suffer. However, I understand that this way of thinking conflicts with the current trend in the art field.
I believe that a pure heart is timeless, and good wares and vessels are created when the maker is dedicated to crafting the most suitable backdrop for the content to showcase its beauty, enabling the user to savor and enjoy the moment. This is, after all, what creating wares is all about.
We have always engaged in our creative endeavors with a caring heart, believing that creating something great was solely for the benefit of others. However, we have come to realize that the creative process also nourishes and helps us grow as creators. I am more convinced than ever that wares are an art form that can accompany people’s lives.
Creating the Goblets
These small goblets are versatile vessels that can be used for serving tea and sake, and they were inspired by the design of wine goblets and egg cups. I recently stumbled upon a story on the internet that claims wine goblets were created in response to a poisoning incident in the palace. According to the story, the risk of poison being added to the wine could be greatly reduced if the servants were only allowed to hold the stem of the glass instead of the bowl. While I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this claim, I find the act of holding the stem of the ware to be surprisingly elegant and fitting for use in tea ceremonies. In addition, I love the practicality of using egg cups and the sense of ritual that they bring along — which I reckon to be the most important thing in daily life.
OBSCURA x TOKI NASHIKI GOBLET collection is now available on our online store.
About Toki Nashiki
With ceramics as the medium, we create practical ware/utensils. Such creation exists between the blurry line of art and design, where the two of us start to rethink our understanding and definition of contemporary ceramics, thereby creating practical ware that is grounded in daily life and stands the test of time.