About The Steel Tea Tools #2

“Tan-Nen” Steel LPG Tea Kettle

 The kettle is placed ontop of the hearth and used to boil water for the tea ceremony. The kettle is vital to the tea ceremony and is, in actual fact, traditionally made of steel.

 Originally the kettle was placed on charcoal fires, but nowadays it is common to use an electric kettle. Since my concept is to transform objects that are not normally made of steel into steel objects, I had to think about how to make something that is originally steel. Contemplating, I looked around my studio and spotted the burner that I use for heating the steel, I followed the hose which led my eyes to the LPG (liquid petroleum-gas) cylinder. Boom!

 An LPG cylinder is made of steel to withstand high pressure. How about creating a kettle out of this cylinder I thought! Combustible gas containers should never be exposed to fire. How funny would it be to use one as a kettle? Also, LPG cylinder in Japanese is “bom-be”, which in German funnily enough means “bomb”. The smell of danger! I was excited!

 “Tan-Nen” in Japanese means “mindfulness”. This embodies the nature of the tea ceremony. However, I chose the characters 丹燃 meaning “red burning”. The character 丹 , funnily enough, looks similar to a pot but also holds the meaning of “red”.

"Tan-Sei" Steel Oxygen-Cylinder Jug

A jug is used to replenish water in the kettle. The jug also reserves clean water for washing the tea-bowl at the end of the ceremony. Most traditional jugs are made of pottery but a variety exist.

 As I used a gas cylinder to make my kettle, I decided to make the jug out of an oxygen cylinder. Gas and oxygen, a perfect combination I thought! I cut the cylinder and found that the bottom was pushed out in a hemispherical shape. An oxygen cylinder is quite thick compared to an LPG cylinder. I could imagine that there must have been incredible pressure to make this shape. Just like the stars of earth quietly endure the high pressure of the earth's mantle. The jet-black, industrial coating had been painted on the outside. A myriad of flaws give the jug the right touch. Inside, I used "Bengara" red iron oxide, a natural colour pigment made of iron, widely used in traditional Japan as a colorant for concrete, ceramics etc. I mixed this with urushi lacquer. The mixture created an uneven, gritty red surface, these small particles reminded me of stars.

 "Tan-sei" 丹精 holds the meaning “great care”and is a synonym of 丹念 (tan-nen), of which the kettle was named. 丹 means "red". Instead of 精, I chose 星, meaning star, but with the same pronounce (sei). "Tan-sei" together means “red star”.

“Koku-Ten” Steel Oxygen-Cylinder Waste-Water Container

 The Waste-Water Container is a vessel in which the waste-water from warming or cleansing the tea-bowl is disposed. All of them have a large opening in order to easily pour in the waste-water. I made mine from the remains of the oxygen cylinder I had used to make the jug.

 If you look at the upper section you will see it becomes narrower and more rounded over the mouth. When you turn it over it returns to a bowl shape because it was formed as the jug, is it perfect.

 I chose the name "Koku-Ten", meaning sun spot. Sun spot refers to the black spots that can be seen on the surface of the sun, but in particular the level of darkest black which in astronomy we call umbra. In Japanese this means "dark side", which can also hold the meaning of a hidden, ugly part.

 Since the waste-water container is not a particularity special item it is placed to the left of the tea host where it can easily be hidden behind the long sleeve of the kimono. I also see this as the dark side.

“Nami-Nami” Steel Lid Rest

 The ladle, lid of the kettle, and such items are set down on the lid rest when not in use. There are a variety of styles of lid rest, in a variety of materials and each are thoughfully designed.

 A 'runner' was used during casting into which the steel was melted into the mould. At the top of the mould there is a spout. I poured the steel up until this spout but made sure that it didn't overflow. Due to the surface tension at the spout the steel takes the shape of the lid. As I poured the hot metal into the mould, I thought about the word “naminami”, which means “to fill to the brim”. However, because I was preoccupied by thoughts of the tsunami, I chose another character, 波 (nami), meaning “wave”. The character 々 in Japanese repeats the sound of the previous character, and so, emphasising the size and devastation of the tsunami, the title became “Nami-Nami”.

Translated by Ruth MacConville & Chie Uchida.

Special thanks to TEZUKAYAMA Gallery.