Tea kettles, cozies, mugs, and strainers—they all have a prominent place in my cluttered kitchen. There is barely room for dishes and pots and pans. I have a cupboard full of cute and colorful cups and saucers, many cherished gifts from friends and family. They all know what I collect and the presents never stop. While I have all the usual suspects, recently I found something quite out of the ordinary. I was at a flea market surveying the cool wares when I spotted a local metalworker demonstrating his skills on the most unique tea kettle I have ever seen. Sure, I have bought dozens of teas at these fairs, and even a kettle or two, I had never fallen for a metal device to make my favorite brew.
I got as close I could to watch the artisan at his craft. It was fascinating and a rate glimpse into the creative process. The piece was almost finished and he was soldering a few decorative details in a contrasting metal over the surface in a vine pattern. It sparkled and shone and was absolutely divine. It would be a major coup for the collection that included mostly hand-made items. Adding something in metal would be a real plus. I have never seen something so precious. Little did I know that this ordinary, routine visit to the flea market would yield such a treasure? But I was afraid to ask about the price!
Flea market finds are not expensive as a rule, but when it comes to metalwork, there could be a hefty price tag. I continued to watch and glanced about to observe any other finished products. I was so entranced with the welding that I didn’t notice a few other teapots behind the worker, sitting side by side in all their glorious essence. He looked up and smiled and bent back over to finish his project. I stayed longer than I expected, or thought was polite, until he remove his protective face shield and asked, “Are you interested?”
“Of course,” I replied. “It would be lovely in my home—such an extraordinary piece. How did you make all of those intricate details?”
“Thank you,” he smiled. “I used a plasma cutter after reading about them on a web site called Rate My Welder. Why not take it home?” Seeing a slight bit of hesitation he added, “It can be yours for $25.” I practically beamed. Such a deal! I immediately started to open my wallet.
“I saw your enjoyment and I love to place my pieces in worthy homes.”
“I assure you that it will be treated with dignity and respect.”
“Let me put it in a box for safekeeping.” He grabbed a soft pouch and stowed it efficiently inside.
I couldn’t wait to get home and display the metal gem in full sight. It was a star in my collection. I loved that I watched it being born. Most of my collection, while handmade, is anonymous. I now had insight into its history and insisted that the artist sign the kettle at the bottom. This is what I call flea market success!