Pearls and Oysters – 12

“The Much Maligned Chocolate Teapot”

This image of  the “Useless Chocolate Teapot” has crept into our language recently to describe something which is definitely not fit for purpose. Yet even here there are uses we can imagine, for example if it’s solid, then there’s no issue – it has a purpose to be eaten and enjoyed. If it’s hollow we can put sweets in it and give it as a present to a friend who likes tea.

It could easily be home to a sweet-toothed dormouse or hold some dried flowers as a decoration.

Traditionally we have  teapots in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours such as brown ceramic ones to conjour up thoughts of  tea and crumpets, or tea and toast. The ultimate comfort foods.

We have fine china teapots which indicate elegance and a table full of afternoon cucumber sandwiches (without the crusts) and wedges of Victoria sponge cake.

The silver tea set represents family tradition and a posh table setting. In our family the silver tea set was given to my mother by the members of her sewing bee when we emigrated to California. When she died it was returned to me in Scotland as a family heirloom. I’ve only used it once when I invited my friends to join me in a  tea party to honour my mother’s life and memory. I can no more think of clearing it out even though I never use it.

The only time a chocolate teapot doesn’t work is if we try to fill it with hot water and enfuse some tea.

The designer William Morris  said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” This covers teapots nicely, and raises the question of why we keep things that we don’t need and how we get the courage to clear them out. You don’t have to look for for advice articles, programmes and book chapters to guide you through that too small wardrobe, or the soft toys you’ve had since whenever. When I moved to a smaller house last year, I sorted through boxes of stuff, and took at least ten car loads of “things” to the local charity shop, sold furniture I didn’t have room for and, oh yes, that too small wardrobe.!

Now again I’m thinking of having a clearout. Getting rid of these things I’ve saved for at least five years that I might have used at Christmas, packaging for birthday presents – a whole shelf’s worth. Cookbooks I haven’t referred to in years….the list goes on.

It’s not surprising that I’ve collected so much “stuff'” over the years, but it was never intended to set up a barrier to leading a simpler life, not based on belongings, but rather based on finding peaceful moments to think about things don’t matter.

But not the silver tea set. I’ll keep that until I can give it to one of my grandchildren and they can make the decision whether it represents family history or clutter.


To find out more about my art and textile work see:

The Arran Knitting Company

Rainbow Textiles

Scottish Island Mum Day 40 – Come and Meet the Lovely Lynn


About lynngrayross

A mother and grandmother with over 40 years of experience in textile arts. Author of "Handweaving: the Basics" published by Bloomsbury UK. Available to purchase from

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