What’s This?09.28.11

The day before the earthquake I went downtown with a friend to buy Japanese washi paper. The store was amazing; two floors packed floor to ceiling with washi of every color and design imaginable. In addition to paper for covering eggs, I chose several large sheets in a rich red, gold, grey and black harvest theme. I don’t have a great track record for completing craft projects- a combination of too many interests, too few like-minded friends and a busy life have all worked against me. So for years I held back from even getting interested or buying supplies. That day though, I came prepared to splurge because my egg-making mentor had promised to show me how to cover a tea box.

Tea boxes are used to ship and store dried tea leaves. Produced in a wide range of sizes, from small enough to hold recipe cards to large enough for a child to hide in, their unique shape and sturdy tin or zinc lined construction make them useful for storing moisture sensitive items in the high humidity of Japan.  I’d accumulated a few old and battered ones over the years, always hoping to do something with them someday.

Immediately after the earthquake, covering the tea box seemed impossible and irrelevant. Everyone’s lives were in some measure of chaos; even those of us who were not in immediate danger felt that life on this side of 3/11 was different. Who really had time for such big projects with seemingly no meaning aside from beauty anyhow?

On this side of summer, life has calmed down a bit.  Last week my friend suggested we get started, so this afternoon was spent measuring, cutting and pasting. I got so caught up that I kept working this evening and flicked on the news which included a feature on rice harvesting in Miyagi. The tsunami dumped saltwater and detritus on a 400 mile stretch of coastline, some of the best rice growing areas of Japan. While many of the devastated fields sit barren, some have been successfully desalinated through painstaking irrigation and repeated excavation and aeration of the heavy soil. Rice, a symbol for life here, is being harvested again. My box isn’t exactly a rice harvest, but thanks to a patient and encouraging friend, that old tea chest which sat for years gathering dust and seemed headed for the garbage has taken on a new assignment as a coffee table/game chest in our living room. And my stunted creativity? Well, I’m already dreaming about the next project…

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Posted by Andrea Johnson under Uncategorized.

11 Responses to “What’s This?”

  1. This brings back memories of our national sewing week…how many years ago was that now? I totally understand the sense of calm and timelessness that comes when we focus and spend hours creating with our hands! So glad you could enjoy. The box is lovely!

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    Posted by Linda McAllister on 12/13/09 September 28th, 2011 at 11:24 PMReply

  2. Andrea, it is beautiful! Sometimes I think that our best response to destruction is to create. Beauty has an important role in our life as all beauty is a reflection of our Creator. May it bring you joy!

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    Posted by Ronna on 12/13/09 September 29th, 2011 at 1:58 AMReply

  3. Love it, Andi! One should never be too busy to enjoy beauty and creativity. Seems like Sabbath to me. It nourishes the soul!

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    Posted by myrna olson on 12/13/09 September 29th, 2011 at 5:59 AMReply

  4. Hi, Andy –

    I’m at Myrna’s computer and just saw your beautiful box. Like you, I hesitate to start any projects because of fear they’ll never be finished! Maybe I needed this encouragement from you!

    We came here on the train yesterday because today we are riding with Steve and Myrna to Spokane & on to Marlan and Ann’s in Idaho for the weekend.

    Beautiful morning – “This is the day the Lord hath made — let us REJOICE & be glad in it.”

    Blessings, and love to ALL of you.


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    Posted by Arleen Johnson on 12/13/09 October 1st, 2011 at 1:03 AMReply

    • Looking at the gorgeous scenery was probably even more inspiring than the box, but in any case, glad you feel more like getting started.

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      Posted by Andrea Johnson on 12/13/09 October 1st, 2011 at 8:37 PMReply

  5. Andrea, I’m so glad you took time to cover this box so beautifully. The lid pattern matches the box exactly–I’m in awe. I’m going to show it to Jenny, because she likes working with washi paper so much.

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    Posted by Norma Wyse on 12/13/09 October 1st, 2011 at 10:42 PMReply

  6. Oh, this is gorgeous! What pretty paper for what a lovely box! I can’t wait to see it next time we see you. I’d love to see how you made it; that’s so neat! You should cover some eggs to match. 🙂

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    Posted by Jenny Ramseyer on 12/13/09 October 5th, 2011 at 8:34 AMReply

    • That’s a great idea- covering some eggs to match. I’d love to have a chance to take you to my favorite washi store next time you are here, and either do eggs or a box. (The box might have to wait till Stateside though, since transporting it is a bit of a trick…)

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      Posted by Andrea Johnson on 12/13/09 October 7th, 2011 at 10:58 AMReply

  7. When Jenny saw this, she wrote me back: “So cool!”

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    Posted by Norma Wyse on 12/13/09 October 5th, 2011 at 8:42 AMReply

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