The Book of Tea

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goffmachine
Posts: 219
Joined: Thu Apr 08, 2010 5:15 am

The Book of Tea

Post by goffmachine »

Hello everyone,

As many of you have probably learned from reading so many biographies of FLLW and done so much reasearch over the years...
You probably have heard or read that Mr. Wright would often give The Book of Tea as a gift. He would recall that it was one of his favorites and would recommend everyone to read it.
I read it a couple of months ago.
Its very very short and easy to read. Its excellent.
I recommend it to all the FLLW fans here.
It is chock full of Wrightian enrichment.

Here is a free PDF download:
http://mysite.verizon.net/william_frank ... koftea.pdf

Wiki:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Tea

Wright speaking of it:


http://www.guggenheim-bilbao.es/microsi ... ?idioma=en

SDR
Posts: 19813
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

The fifth paragraph in the Wiki story, "Tea life . . .", contains a useful anecdote -- for those of us who may not be perfectionists. If I see a less-than-stellar bit of craftsmanship, I might stop and consider the moment, and the man. "Even the fool has his story to tell," to quote Chaucer (was it ?).

I am embarking upon a stint of work for a man whose craftsmanship (by his own admission) sometimes leaves a bit to be desired. I hope I learn as much from him as vice versa . . .

SDR

SDR
Posts: 19813
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

There is much that would bear repeating, in this little book. I choose, for a start, this, from the middle of the thing, in the chapter called "The Tea Room":


"The tea-room (Sukiya) does not pretend to be other than
a mere cottage—a straw hut, as we call it. The ideographs
for Sukiya mean Abode of Fancy. Latterly the various
tea-masters substituted various Chinese characters accord-
ing to their conception of the tea-room, and the term Sukiya
may signify Abode of Vacancy or Abode of the Unsymmet-
rical. It is an Abode of Fancy inasmuch as it is an ephemeral
structure built to house a poetic impulse. It is an Abode of
Vacancy inasmuch as it is devoid of ornamentation except
for what may be placed in it to satisfy some æsthetic need
of the moment. It is an Abode of the Unsymmetrical inas-
much as it is consecrated to the worship of the Imperfect,
purposely leaving some thing unfinished for the play of the
imagination to complete. The ideals of Teaism have since
the sixteenth century influenced our architecture to such de-
gree that the ordinary Japanese interior of the present day,
on account of the extreme simplicity and chasteness of its
scheme of decoration, appears to foreigners almost barren.
The first independent tea-room was the creation of Senno-
Soyeki, commonly known by his later name of Rikiu, the
greatest of all tea-masters, who, in the sixteenth century,
under the patronage of Taiko-Hideyoshi, instituted and
brought to a high state of perfection the formalities of the
Tea-ceremony. The proportions of the tea-room had been
previously determined by Jowo—a famous tea-master of
the fifteenth century. The early tea-room consisted merely
of a portion of the ordinary drawing-room partitioned off
by screens for the purpose of the tea-gathering. The portion
partitioned off was called the Kakoi (enclosure), a name
still applied to those tea-rooms which are built into a house
and are not independent constructions. The Sukiya consists
of the tea-room proper, designed to accommodate not more
than five persons, a number suggestive of the saying “more
than the Graces and less than the Muses,� an anteroom
(midsuya) where the tea utensils are washed and arranged
before being brought in, a portico (machiai) in which the
guests wait until they receive the summons to enter the
tea-room, and a garden path (the roji) which connects the
machiai with the tea-room. The tea-room is unimpressive
in appearance. It is smaller than the smallest of Japanese
houses, while the materials used in its construction are in-
tended to give the suggestion of refined poverty. Yet we
must remember that all this is the result of profound artistic
forethought, and that the details have been worked out with
care perhaps even greater than that expended on the build-
ing of the richest palaces and temples. A good tea-room
is more costly than an ordinary mansion, for the selection
of its materials, as well as its workmanship, requires im-
mense care and precision. Indeed, the carpenters employed
by the tea-masters form a distinct and highly honoured
class among artisans, their work being no less delicate than
that of the makers of lacquer cabinets."


It is perhaps understandable that Mr Wright would have rejoiced in this treatise; it dwells upon Spirit, Beauty, and Architecture -- in part. Indeed it contains some definitions of beauty -- art -- that may exceed his own in specificity. Yet I judge it to be longer, more florid, than need be -- again, in keeping with his own practice as a writer ? Perhaps I am merely wary, or weary, of isms . . .

SDR

peterm
Posts: 6210
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:27 am
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

Post by peterm »

"It is smaller than the smallest of Japanese
houses, while the materials used in its construction are in-
tended to give the suggestion of refined poverty...

...A good tea-room is more costly than an ordinary mansion, for the selection
of its materials, as well as its workmanship, requires im-
mense care and precision."


Try these substitutions:

It is smaller than the smallest of American
houses, while the materials used in its construction are in-
tended to give the suggestion of refined poverty...

...A good Wright house is more costly than an ordinary mansion, for the selection of its materials, as well as its workmanship, requires im-
mense care and precision.

Laurie Virr
Posts: 472
Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:32 pm

Post by Laurie Virr »

Posted: Sun May 22, 2011 6:46 pm

'It is smaller than the smallest of American
houses, while the materials used in its construction are in-
tended to give the suggestion of refined poverty...

...A good Wright house is more costly than an ordinary mansion, for the selection of its materials, as well as its workmanship, requires im-
mense care and precision'.


This raises a subject to which another thread should probably be allocated.

The Usonians were good Wright houses, and the selection of the materials, especially for the earliest, were very carefully chosen, but there were many details that necessitated immense care and precision, raising the cost beyond the financial capabilities of the folk to which they were initially addressed.

This is made manifest by a perusal of the occupations of the Usonian clients. There were few journalists of the Herbert Jacobs, Lloyd Lewis, and Loren Pope stripe, and many academics, medicos, and successful business men.

I know from personal experience, that mitering and securing the junctions of board and batten partitions, for example, is a time consuming business, and certainly not for the faint hearted. Fabrication of such details is correspondingly expensive.

goffmachine
Posts: 219
Joined: Thu Apr 08, 2010 5:15 am

Flowers or Floral arrangements for Mr. Wright

Post by goffmachine »

How important was a Floral arrangement to Mr. Wright?

I have read again and again that Mr. Wright would walk into a room and make an adjustment to the Floral setting...and there always seemed to be one.
Um ...I think I read in an apprentice account the apprentices always setting up a new arrangement of plants or flowers hoping for approval???

An excerpt from the Book of Tea that is simply so beautiful.

In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends. We eat, drink, sing, dance, and flirt with them. We wed and christen with flowers. We dare not die without them. We have worshipped with the lily, we have meditated with the lotus, we have charged in battle array with the rose and the chrysanthemum. We have even attempted to speak in the language of flowers. How could we live without them? It frightens one to conceive of a world bereft of their presence. What solace do they not bring to the bedside of the sick, what a light of bliss to the darkness of weary spirits? Their serene tenderness restores to us our waning confidence in the universe even as the intent gaze of a beautiful child recalls our lost hopes. When we are laid low in the dust it is they who linger in sorrow over our graves.

Rood
Posts: 1177
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 12:19 pm
Location: Goodyear, AZ 85338

Post by Rood »

For some years during my time, John Amarantides was in charge of floral arrangements in the Taliesin Living Room, which were usually completed on Saturday afternoon. One of the great joys in joining the Fellowship for cocktails on Saturday night (held always in the Blue Loggia), was first going into the living room to marvel at his arrangement, especially the one located in the corner next to the dining table. They typically took your breath away.

techzone90
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2020 2:18 am

Re: The Book of Tea

Post by techzone90 »

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JimM
Posts: 1556
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2005 5:44 pm
Location: Austin,Texas

Re: The Book of Tea

Post by JimM »

Howe designed a tea house for the Palmers, a very nice pavilion and appropriately compatible with the Usonian. Is there anything in this category by Wright? I’m not aware one was part of the original planning for Palmer.

Roderick Grant
Posts: 10427
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Re: The Book of Tea

Post by Roderick Grant »

What is fascinating about FLW's admiration for all things Japanese is that he realized that it was culture-specific, not quite right for the American market. A hint here and there, but no tokonoma. Other than a single magnolia by Marian Mahony, tacked on to a line drawing by FLW of the Hardy House as viewed from the lake, there are no lilies, lotuses or chrysanthemums in FLW's work, only wild flowers. For those who do not have them, there are two Must-Have books for the complete FLW library "Wrightscapes," by Charles and Berdeana Aguar and "The Gardens of Frank Lloyd Wright" by Derek Fell.

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