Many times I have struggled with the issue of letting my work go.
Originally, I thought I was just “alone in my dilemma” until a recent experience, at the World Tea Expo, that I thought was a wonderfully unique occurrence.
Many of you know, and have been the recipients of both my self-illustrated children’s books on the history of tea as well as my tea inspired jewelry.
Many times I find it hard to “let go” of pieces that took time to make and design.
After my experience at WTE, I had to research if other artisans had this issue. Here’s what I found.
“What I found most interesting from this discussion, however, was not how artists become attached to their work, but how this sense of loss and regret seemed to affect certain types of artists more than others.
I would have to think that this partly has to do with the physical interaction visual artists (painters, illustrators, potters, sculptors) have with their work. By physically manipulating the clay and the paint day after day, I can understand how a visual artist could become more emotionally attached to the final piece.”
“Ideas are easy but execution is hard, and artists and designers know how lucky they are when they create one seminal piece. Sometimes they labor a lifetime for that one great piece
The irony here is that we spend all this time trying to make a living from our art only to discover that we’ve become emotionally attached to our work and can’t let it go.”
Ok, back to the experience.
While at the Expo part of my focus was looking for some additional tea ware for use in my offsite catering.
It was not my intent to purchase significant amounts for resale but one or two sets that I could combine with what I already have. This is always a challenge as minimums, weather monetary or quantity prevent me from making some purchases that would work well in my collection.
The first day of the Expo, I happen to be walking in the second aisle and came across some lovely Yixing teapots and made a mental note to return and investigate after my initial round of booth reviews.
I realized why shortly after he spotted his assistant further down the hall, he was hesitant because he did not speak English.
His assistant approached quickly and I began my inquiry.
The answers were to my satisfaction, yes the items were for sale, yes the purchase could be made at the Expo, no minimums either quantity or monetary were to be had “Score”!
I proceeded to examine the lovely work and ask prices, as on this day I was still examining items for consideration and going back in the evening to incorporate them into my budget, which, by the way was small.
The well-versed assistant (note I use this term only because I did not ask her position) Zhina explained the items were made of Purple Clay from China, the artist creator was from a family of yixing designers, fifth generation decendant of Tang Men and the designer herself has been creating yixing for over 30 years. She then proceeded to explain the variety of price ranges. The more elaborate commanding over a thousand dollars.
As I was making my examination a group of people began discussing items that were on the next table, lovely yixing tea sets. One person, was unfortunately, making somewhat of a spectacle of himself. As he heard the prices he compared them to others he had seen in China at lower costs, possibly a negotiating tactic.
I rarely, if ever, take this approach with an artisan, as I know what it takes to create just one piece and appreciate their time, talent and work.
What I did overhear was the cost of the item and registered this for further budgetary consideration and justification.
The following day I decided to stop by “just to look” to insure this was what I could really use. The proprietor smiled as I approached and I felt welcomed. I examined the pieces and still could not decide what to do. Should I buy a single piece or the set, I had looked at my budget and found either would fit along with the other items I had listed. Not being able to make a decision I explained I would be back.
I made my decision there and then it would be the set.
Well, little did I know that there would be an approval process before purchase? I felt as if I was at the shelter for abandoned puppies and was being questioned for certification of appropriate ownership.
As I answered Zhina translated my responses to the proprietor, I watched and listened to the answers, I saw how he held the beautiful piece of design in his hand cradling it as if it were a baby and demonstrating with ultimate care.
I realized this was not just an inquisition, this was an artisan who guided me through the care of such a beautiful work of art so I could enjoy it and give it the honor it deserved and I understood (note I am getting chills as I type).
This is one of the special moments I experienced at the Expo and one I will treasure.
The works created by Ms. Tang Zhaoxia. National senior craftsman and artists, member of China International Tea Culture Institute, director and member of Guang Dong Arts and Crafts Association, art director of Guangdong Chengfeng Art Research Institute. She has won gold medals of China Arts and Crafts and she had been regarded as one of the Collector’s favorite grandmaster purple clay artist.
Note my photos do not do these pieces justice, taken from the brochure I brought home I encourage you to take a look on their website for a better representation.