Friday, 15 March 2013

Day 379-Making A Cast Iron Water Kettle



My love affair with Japanese traditions started since I was 13 years old. That year, I was selected to study a 3rd language on top of English, our first language and Chinese, our 2nd. I could pick either Japanese or French and I chose Japanese. We were taught by a Japanese lady whose face I still recall quite clearly  although I have long forgotten her name. The language too is but a distant memory but my love for some things Japanese lingers till today. 

One of those things I love is the tetsubin or the Japanese cast iron water kettle. I love it for its sturdiness, the rural feel, that fact that it looks deceptively simple but is really a work of art. The kettle alone however is not what makes the magic for me. It is the sight of it hanging over a charcoal pit from a roof beam in a farmhouse, evoking at once an air of elegance and warmth that few other images can achieve for me. I see hot tea, good company and earthy conversations. I see bliss. 


In contrast to that, we have this. This was me when I first started buying dollhouse miniatures. This particular piece was bought from MMoT during my 1st trip, maybe some of you have it too. I had thought it would fit into my Maharajah's Palace, a palace which I have yet to build. Now I can no longer see how a filigree teapot can fit into any of my setting. So I decided it should become a tetsubin. A tetsubin in the true sense, strictly cast iron, no enamel on the inside so that the water boiled in it will have the properties of the iron which in turn will enhance the flavour of the tea. 


So I took out my matt white nail polish, which ironically was for my French manicure, and started painting the pot till all the holes were covered. After that, I spray painted the kettle black and then just to make sure no one thought there could be any enamel lurking in there, I added dabs of rust on the handle. I know you may not see the connection of how rust on handle means no enamel, that's why I have to tell you: 

rust on handle= no enamel.  


Of course, it has to be an old tetsubin but one that still has a few good years of use in it. Soon I will put the kettle to boil so please, do come by and have a tetsubin cup of green tea with me.

Good company, great conversations, bliss. 

44 comments:

CWPoppets said...

Yes, much better than that sparkling little tea pot!
Christine

Kim said...

Often I really, really wish that I lived in a world where iron tea kettles hung over charcoal pits and tea was a ceremony of importance and savored with friends and family. I love the fact that I have friends from far away because of technology- don't get me wrong- but sometimes I think that we all need to slow down and appreciate life and nature and simple things. I think your new iron kettle is beautiful Sans- and now it has a special place in your heart :)

Susanne said...

Thanks for showing and telling the story, Sans. One day I saw a japanese teapot in the local teashop when I went to buy a teapot and some white tea for my son, and fell in love with it. SO much perfection. But I didn´t buy it. It was too expensive...1200 kr, that is more than 220$. Thats a lot isn´t it...

Maria Blanca "AyamontinoMaria" said...

Very nice your teapot..great idea! Hugs

Fabiola said...

Great idea! Your kettle is perfect.
Thanks for the story.
Bye Faby

Maria Ireland said...

Your kettle is wonderful. I did like it as a teapot but it looks even better now. Thank you very much for the explanation about the enamel hehe.
Great post as always.
Hugs Maria

The Old Maid said...

Oh hoho! I love it! Your idea of making kettle, dear Sam, and funny guess we haven't talked about it but...Japan, specially it's culture and tradition is close to my soul, but of course I have never been there and most probably never will be.;)
If I knew about it last year I would drag you to the place they love Japan in Krakow.;)
Great music by the way.:)
Hugs and kisses!!


Virginia Isabel CoMa said...

Que idea tan genial. Contu permiso me voy ha hacer una para mi.
Besujis!

Sans! said...

So desu ne, Christine!

One of the few phrases I remember of my Japanese which I took as an "O" level subject.

That phrase means " so it is, isn't it" and is pronounced "so desk nay". teehee :). We use it a lot among friends when we want to elicit a giggle or 2.

Sans! said...

Kim, when I was in Taiwan, we stayed at a "minshu" (b&b) in a quaint little town that still bears much of the old Japan (Taiwan was once occupied by Japan).

In our minshu, the owner boiled hot water using a cast iron kettle, probably not a tetsubin (tetsubin must be distinguished from other kettles especially those with enamel inside ..teehee). It was winter and the kettle was at the balcony overlooking rather spectacular views of the sea and mountains. I could not decide which view was better, the sea and mountains or the kettle hanging from the ceiling over the pit.

And I agree with you 110% on how we must find time to do the simple, quiet things, like enjoying a cup of tea with friends whilst pondering love, life and the universe :), away from the electronic noises of modern life.

Sans! said...

Susanne, that is an insane price for a teapot. You know, I bought 2 teapots just a couple of days ago. For making tea. They are made in China and very pretty. 1 is about maybe less than Euros 3 or 4?

It is ironical that tetsubins have become so expensive when they were first made as cheaper alternatives to the very expensive China ware when tea was first introduced to Japan. Today, a well crafted tetsubin is like a status symbol and collectors really treasure them because they are regarded as works of art.

Like Japanese baskets. Oh my, I can never afford a really fine Japanese basket but boy, do I love, love,love them.

Sans! said...

Thank you Maria Bianca. I have just visited your blog and your farm house is gorgeous!

Sans! said...

Thank you Faby, for always being here! :)

Sans! said...

Maria Ireland, thank goodness for blogging so we can explain what nobody will ever guess. teeheehee.

Actually the old version cannot be used as a real teapot for obvious reason, that's why I had to change it. But it is still quite a stunning piece as an ornamental teapot. Just too shiny for my taste. But you are right, it was a nice piece.

Sans! said...

Ewalina, i think if I have to choose another country to be born in, I will pick Japan. But old Japan where people live in wooden houses, have tea ceremonies instead of tea parties and make art out of their daily chores. Have you seen their bentos (lunchboxes) ?

It is a very refined life and I think I can totally embrace it.

Of course if I am born a Japanese, maybe I will want to be a beautiful Polish girl instead. Heh heh!

When you are here, Ewalina, we will go hang out at the Japanese Dollar Store or watch Jdorama and listen to Jpop while slurping on our ramen walking around in silk kimonos all day.

Sans! said...

Virginia, no necesitas pedirme permiso. Todo lo que muestro aquí es compartir. Porque he tomado de muchos, así! Me siento muy halagado de que como mi marmita suficiente como para querer hacer uno para usted mismo. Gracias :).

Plushpussycat said...

Fantastic tutorial and result, Sans! xo Jennifer

Kikka said...

Hi... Thank you for the story, the tutorial and the invitation!
Yes please a tetsubin cup of green tea with You Sans: so fun!
Hugs
Kikka

Daydreamer said...

Yes, Please, Dear Sans! Pour me a cup and let's sit by the fire!!! I LOVE images like that! They touch something in our Deep Instinctive memories... they say warmth... togetherness.... shelter.... Home... like no other images do!
I am drinking my tea, listening to your music... the snow is swirling gently outside my window as dusk falls... And I can ALMOST taste the iron from the water of your Exquisitely Beautiful Ancient Tetsubin! *Sigh*
Thank you for inviting me over!!! :):):)

BiWuBär said...

Thanks for the invitation... although... *clearsherthroat*... I don't dare to say that loud so please come a little closer, dear... *whisper*... as you may remember I don't drink tea, only black coffee. *sigh* Nevertheless I could join the good company, great conversations and bliss without the tea, couldn't I? Because now I know the magic formula: Rust on handle = no enamel. Everything is so bright and clear now, everything is making sense all of a sudden... Oh, and not to forget - thank you very much for that good laugh with the FRENCH manicure... I think it's good you've chosen Japan for studying and France for your nails... how else could you have turned that teapot into something this stunning!

Hugs
Birgit

Lucille said...

I love the new look you have given your kettle, Sans! Regarding the Japanese culture, I would love to see their tea ceremony. Apparently, it's something to see. I read that it's a very slow and relaxing process. Sometimes, when I feel that I'm going too fast and I have trouble slowing down, I think of this ceremony even though I have never seen it. Just the thought of it relaxes me.

To answer your question, I do not have a blog. I am a "blog reader and commentator". I am, however, working on a dollhouse. But, it's a very long process because I am also a procrastinator. This all sounds so hilarious and I must say I am laughing at the moment.

I will read your story about the old house sometime over the weekend. I'm looking forward to it.

rosanna said...

Definitely a good job,you bashed a cheap filigree ball teapot intosomething refined and unique.
that's your magic.
As for japan....it is my dream tobe able to go there,my top destination...sigh
Hugs,Ro

Ilona said...

Sans! have you ever heard from houjicha tea? I really love the particular taste of this Japanese tea. Oh, I wish I would be able to travel to Japan like all the other bloggers :D! Yes, more minimalism in our lives.....that would be great!
Warm hugs, Ilona

Margriet said...

Wow!!! I never really liked filligree miniatures, but what you did with that little kettle is just amazing...it's looking great, I love it!

Muriellisa said...

Quelle bonne idée...

Ascension said...

Una buena idea, me encanta el resultado y encima con tutorial.
......quizas a partir de ahora las copie de las tuyas jejejeje
Estoy sin ordenador y me cuesta traducir jejej
Esto de la informatica va a acabar con mi hobby jejejee
besitos ascension

Amy said...

Brilliant! It's so perfect, and who would imagine, nail polish. Around here, it's getting to be that there's more nail polish in my house than paint, (I just bought marigold polish, the only color I haven't tried yet).

I studied Japanese art, so I understand your love. I visited Japan many years ago, but it's as vivid in my memory as if I was just there. I saw art they never let travel outside of the country, and that was an amazing experience, objects stock still in the pages of books come to life. I would very happily share a cup of green tea with you Sans, any time you like.

Ana Anselmo said...

I share with you a love for those japanese iron kettle an for other pieces of course...
The only problem here is I don´t like tea so instead of ".... how we must find time to do the simple, quiet things, like enjoying a cup of tea with friends whilst pondering love, life and the universe :), away from the electronic noises of modern life", can I take a cup of good (Portuguese) coffee?

Love from Lisbon
Ana

Ara said...

I have been gone too long! BUt its great to know what I do come back I will have several beautiful posts from Sans to ready through! You inspire me to get myself and gear and make minis! Hugs, Ara

PS. Love this little pot! Love him in black!

Sans! said...

Thank you Margriet :):). Come over for tea sometime! :)

I am now re-looking at all my filigree items to see if I can make them into something else. So many possibilities, so little time..sighhh

Sans! said...

Hey Jen! Thanks! :):) I got the idea of using nail polish from a blogger Jayne of Tallulah Belle. She had made beautiful Arabian lamps with the nail polish on filigree findings.

Sans! said...

Hi Bets, it was winter when I was in Taiwan this year and there's nothing like a cup of hot tea or coffee (*wink Ana and Birgit) in your hands on a cold morning :).

My dad loves Chinese tea and it is always enjoyable when he takes out his tea set and the family gathered around the dining table for a taste of his most recent acquisition. Silence ensues when we each sip and savour the after taste of a cup of fine Chinese tea. Although there is no conversation but the bond over that tea is just as real. :)

Sans! said...

Haha Birgit, I was just thinking as I typed that that maybe I was the only one who saw the irony. But a good thing I didn't have to explain that too because hey, you saw it too! :):)

I wish I can speak French too but then again I also wish I can speak a dozen other languages like Malay, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or even Korean (right, Ewalina?) etc etc.

psst...I am also more a coffee person than tea but I restrict myself to 1 coffee a day. Over here, we believe that tea has a slimming effect. It washes away the oil, they say :).

Sans! said...

Lucille, when I was studying Japanese, our teacher showed us video of the tea ceremony. I think I fell asleep ..teehehe.

My first trip to Japan was with a theatre company. I was in a musical production about cabaret life in 60's Singapore and I was in the chorus as one of the cabaret girls. This was when I was in my 3rd/4th year of work and acting was just a pasttime. What an experience that was, performing in Japan. :) My 1st trip there and I have been there 2 more times since. No one leaves Japan without feeling strongly about it. It is a special place.

I am glad you have picked my blog amongst others for good "conversations". I hope for many more with you.

Sans! said...

It will happen, Ro. You and Japan. I see it in the stars :):)

Sans! said...

Ilona, my favourite Japanese tea is genmaicha. It is a poor man's tea as the tea leaves are mixed with roasted brown rice. In the old days, the poorer folks drink this tea to keep their stomach full due to the brown rice. It has a roast-y taste and aroma which I love, like drinking barbecued tea :):). I suspect the houjicha may be a little like this? I am definitely writing this down and will try to see if I can buy a packet of this from the supermarket here.:)

Sans! said...

Gracias, Muriellisa :)

Sans! said...

Ascensión, hay un libro llamado "Roba Como un artista" que estaba leyendo. Creo que voy a escribir sobre esto algún día. Es todo acerca de cómo no hay idea original realmente y cómo artista siempre "robar" las ideas, el trabajo en ellas, mejorar y luego otros artistas se les roba. "Bad artistas copian, los buenos artistas roban". Así que por favor, robar! El uso de esmalte de uñas no es una idea original de todos modos. :) Y si es así, usted aún puede tomar :) :)

Sans! said...

Amy, I like my nail polish in what I call rugged colours. Right now, matt grey on my fingers (totally peeling off and stained with acrylics from minis) and khaki on my toes. :) Marigold? Ok, I am going to try that next.

On Japanese, I love love love Japanese folk art. It may be their folk, but it's definitely my "fine".Their basketry for instance, omg! Absolutely to die for.

My brother wrote a wonderful article about why people like us torture ourselves with chopsticks for meal. He used Japanese food as an example of why. Maybe I will reproduce a bit of what he wrote about the meaning of dedication, artistry and immaculate by Japanese standards.

Sans! said...

This is an extract form my brother's article :Chopsticks as A way of Life:

"You see, there are certain dishes in Asian cuisine that require a very delicate touch; tofu, shashimi, dim sum ….

You might have heard of the legendary itamae or sushi masters who own tiny , four seater nooks in an obscure part of Japan, renowned for their tempers, disregard for customer service , as well as absolute care and unwavering respect for each and every single bite-sized raw fish on the rice dumpling (sushi) they create.

It takes five years or more for an apprentice to even get nearer to the master’s cutting board (the “wakiita” position) and the transition begins with the most unassuming part of what makes a sushi-rice. Now, before you scoff, you need to understand that sushi rice prepared with itamae standards is governed by extremely strict rules and legendary stories are told of itamae grandmasters who can create Nigiri sushi with all the rice grains facing one direction."

Enough said :)

Sans! said...

Ana, I think I have enough coffee drinker friends here (me included) to warrant a coffee pot. Please bring that Portuguese coffee powder when you visit :):).

Sans! said...

Love that you are back Ara :):). I am so looking forward to more Addams family from you!Get to work, girl! And here, a cuppa whiel you work :):)

Drora's minimundo said...

Sans you are a magician when it comes to comoflage. You already turned plastic boxes into rusty metal suitcases, a filigry teapot into an iron kettle, what next?
I love your kettle.
Hugs, Drora

Ana Anselmo said...

I will Sans, our coffee is very strong and aromatic, there are different blends and is served in quite small cups (coffee cups), just like in Italy.

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