The Shan-Tea Art Shanty Project


61 combined travel hours, spent on the road and on the rail, by bus, car, and train, we traversed many a province, and a state, to make it to our chilly destination.  Not much time for rest, or reunions,  preparations were quickly made for the construction of one tea-pot shaped yurt.  A mere hours after our respective arrivals in the twin cities we flew to  hardware stores and bike shops, amassing lumber and expired bicycle tubes for the construction of our rounded home. 
 We arrived early(ish) and eager to build, at the un-heated Soap Factory, where we were met by old friends, with helping hands.  The process has been exhausting, changing trains of thought into equations; numbers dividing, lining up falling down and multiplying by pi.... rather than trying to change the mental rails, from numbers and lumber to something more like a sentence here's an itemized list of the accomplishments so far.
-1 round floor platform, raised on 
-3 reinforced skis 
-Thirty two roof poles, (or oiyn in yurt talk)
-64 wall poles, woven, inter-locking tied into 
-forty eight feet of khana (yurt talk for wall)
-one-hundred and ninety two bicycle tube tied intersections,
-40 chilly digits 
-eighteen peanut butter sandwiches (fair fairly well when frozen)

Tomorrow we will leave the comforts and electricity of the soap factory, to head out to the lake.  The drill batteries are charging....
After months strung with the hopes, anticipation, hard work and love we have put into the Shan-Tea, the eve of departure has arrived.  Slung with a catastrophic firing that left 80 teacups ruined, my heart turns Northwards across the 1200 miles to a place filled with endless possibility.  Earl and I will arrive in the city in two days, ready to brave sub-zero temperatures and build a home in the round, a place of welcome, a teapot.  And so, though I will not be setting forth with the 200 teacups I had hoped for, I will be setting forth with the sort of optimism and gumption that only disaster can instill.  The lake is calling; strap on your boots.

Tucked away in the snowy hills of Virginia, Oolong John has been diligently crafting hundreds of teacups for the great tea-cup trade.  Oolong will be trading tea cups for stories, baked goods and provisions over the course of the Art Shanty Project.

The project approaches! With one mere month remaining until building commences on Medicine lake,  Oolong John and I (Earl Grey Beard) have been hard at work on our respective sides of the border, constructing, stitching, throwing and snipping away.

I hear tell that well over a hundred tea-cups have been formed, on a wheel in the woods of Virginia...
North of the border, as snow finally begins to fall, thoughts are steeping on tea themed threads.  I have been stitching beards left right and centre, to keep our bare jaws warm and well furred.  Costumes are being constructed for January 23rd's ice capade performance, "Tea for 2 (or more) on a Frozen Lake."

So far, tea pot tops are in the planning phase:
The Shan-Tea is pleased to introduce its latest crew mate: Darjeeling Tangerine. (aka Caitlin Thompson.) Ms Darjeeling will be joining the Shan-Tea crew from Montreal Quebec in January and will be collaborating on the Ice Capades Performance.  Darjeeling T.  has already begun construction on the first of her Tea Cup skirts. Pink and pretty on the outside, folding down into a lovely burlap hoop skirt, so far it is absolutely brilliant!

The Shan-tea, utilizes tea, and transience as platforms for hosting, co-exisitng and thriving in a group, during the coldest months of the year. A metaphor in three dimensions, a building in the round. Corner-less, and filled with bliss, heating hearts and tongues of visitors, young and old, to warm from cold.


Merry-go-round, tea pot shaped, a door for a handle and a stove for a spout, the shan-tea’s shape, inspired by traditional yurt structures,  to foster notions of hospitality, hosting, warmth and cheer, during the coldest months of the winter.
The shanty will be constructed with a traditional yurt structure in mind.
In the Mongolian tradition of hospitality associated with these nomadic dwelling spaces, the Shan-tea will welcome visitors into its warm interior, with a mug of tea and a smile.
it will also sort of look like a tea pot. with a chimney as the spout.
The shantea revolves around notions of hosting as an artistic act. Welcoming visitors into a space,
challenging notions of private/public, stranger.friend warm and cold.

more to come soon, from your founding Tea-Mates,
Oolong John Silver
and Earl Grey Beard



    A collaborative project between Kelsey Nelsen and Amber Phelps Bondaroff, for the 2010 Art Shanty Project, on Medicine Lake Minnesota.