Thursday, May 31, 2012

DIY Ryurei


Our aging knees and aching legs have yearned for a set of tables for Ryurei, a tea ceremony performed at a low table. We covet gorgeous lacquered sets (like this one, or this one) and we've dreamed of being able to present cha-no-yu with such a luxury. It was a luxury we had to do without, until recently.

Here on the far North Coast of California, we live the life of country mice, semi-rural, and far from the madding crowds of Portland or San Francisco. On the down side, we're far from shops that sell tea wares. We rely on the Internet, mail order and semi-annual trips to the City to stock up on tea, sweets and dogu. We also get creative with our dogu. A vase or bowl acquired from a thrift shop can coordinate beautifully with Japanese wares. We use what is at hand in the best spirit of Chado. It was in this spirit that we came to put together our "do-it-yourself" Ryurei set from odds and ends.

It all began with a trip to Target, a casual stroll down the furniture aisle and the accidental discovery of black folding TV tables. Sold individually for or in a set of four:

As we paced around in the furniture department, musing over the TV tables and all their possibilities, we discovered these stools with tubular metal legs:


The stools were sold in two heights, but even the shortest one was too tall to use for Cha-no-yu. Speculating, we bought one to see if we could cut down the legs. Thanks to our handy friend Rich and his pipe cutter, we had success. We went back and bought four more stools and the set of four tables.


Then came the problem of the table.

We considered purchasing a card table from Target, but it had some drawbacks. It was brown. It was quite heavy. It was too tall and would need to have its legs shortened. It was kind of expensive. Then, to our surprise, a friend mentioned he had a card table he was going to get rid of. Free? Perfect! But what an eyesore:


It was transformed with a little elbow grease, some touch-up paint and, again, a shortening of the tubular metal legs with a pipe cutter. It's quite handsome now when topped with a half-tatami mat.



Our lightweight, portable Ryurei set cost around $100. And it looks kind of nice too.
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