March Blog Party: My top secret project revealed

by Danielle Charles

The theme of this months blog party, hosted by Lucinda over at Whispering Earth, is “Herbal Creativity.” She has given much leniency to what we might choose to fall into this category, saying we should select something which, “inspires us or encourages our creative side.” So, after much pondering, it occurred to me that it might be the perfect opportunity to reveal a top secret project I’ve been working on – something which involves creativity and inspiration both. Are you ready? Drum role, please….

Over the past few years, I’ve had this thought milling around in my head of starting a tea company (which I also dream, may someday lead to the opening of a tea house with delicious cakes and lots of beautiful China teacups, but more on that some other day…). I have always delighted more than anything else in the process of blending a tea – feeling the herbs in my hands, seeing their vibrant colors and smelling their fragrances. It is a magical blend of  instinct and knowledge, aesthetics and the art of flavor that shape the development of a tea. The process has always bewitched me, and touched something very primal and ancient within me.

Anyhow, a handful of basic formulas have been shaping themselves for years in my kitchen, apothecary and mind. As these teas have shifted and shaped themselves they have developed a sort of inertia of their own – and have each become some little offering or sacrament to those aspects of living I consider so fundamental to health. And thus, Teacup & Co was finally born – a collection of 7 teas that each celebrates/strengthens/tones all those things so imperative to our sense of well-being.

There is Love of course (the aphrodisiac tea to share with a sweetheart), and Celebrate (to uplift the senses and honor the joy of living). There is Root (to honor and nourish those vitality imparting roots of ours), Digest (to soothe and support that activity most central to our health), Nourish (to nourish the body with minerals and vitamins) and Dream (a tea for soothing us into that healing dream state of sleep), and there is Breathe (to support our respiratory tracts during cold and flu season).

What has really surprised me with this project is that aside from giving me a chance to work in a strictly creative and hands on way with the herbs, it has also re-infused my life with artistic creativity – designing labels and graphics and all of that. I hadn’t realized how much I’d been missing that aspect of art in my-nose-to- the-books herbal life these past few years. So I’ve had lots of fun recently  (if you call fun tearing your hair out at midnight after moving a word half a centimeter back and forth for 4 hours) developing labels and graphics for the company. I must admit that I’ve had all my supplies for nearly a year now, and I have worked on my labels for THAT long. At least. It is called being a neurotic perfectionist – but I hope also – that it also has some semblance of  wanting to get something just right.

So there is my big projected unveiled. I’m nearly (hold my breath) done with the labels – and they should be off to the printer by the end of the week. Then, I’ll be setting up shop on Etsy and selling around town here in Vermont. It’s all very unbelievable and quite terrifying that this little dream of mine is soon to happen.

Anyway, I thought it might be fun to share some of my labels and the process of my design with you, as a tribute that wonderful creative process that has blessed my days this past year or so. It is a strange thing to look back and see how an idea and a glimmer of something materializes into something real, takes shape of its own and develops its own personality.

My first step was looking at LOTS of packages. I spent hours at the grocery store looking at boxes and canisters. I spent countless hours researching packages, fonts, images – anything that took my fancy, really – and collecting them. It made me look at the world in such a different way – I have a new-found appreciation for labels that I never could have before fathomed. I will never go to the store and look at the shelves in the same way again!

After all that research, I had some clear ideas of what I wanted to create. The next step was to create a color palette to work from. I wanted something vibrant and pastel with a sense of groundedness to it, with each tea complementing the other as to emphasize their concept as a “set.”  I  wanted the psychological/symbolic associations of the colors to pertain to the concept of each tea also (ie red for love, yellow for digest and the crown chakra, etc), because I am just like that. This took far longer to get right than you would ever believe. Here is the final result:

After toying with many ideas; too many fonts to mention and too many text boxes, highlights and dots to count, the first basic format materialized (note that the descriptions aren’t quite right yet – digest would not make a very sexy name for an aphrodisiac tea, would it!):

And then – a new font, a few little snazzy slants and details, and I said what I (nor my husband who has been so patient in helping me) ever thought I would. “I’m happy!” and with trembling hand, put down my virtual paintbrush.

And some photos of the teas:

So there is a small taste of my creative endeavor. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted as to when I get my Etsy page up and running. Here’s to unexpected creativity, and to dreams blossoming into things you can hold!