Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Tea bags

This post is partly for my ever tolerant husband, who hasn't even asked why there is a saucer full of used teabags accumulating next to the sink.

I am saving them for the paper. Last fall I took a class from Laura Cater-Woods. She uses tea bag paper for collage. The paper from used tea bags is nicely stained and aged looking. Unfortunately we drink mostly herb tea and it does not add as much color as real tea, but it still has some charm. They are drying out in the saucer. I discovered that they are much easier to open and discard the used tea leaves when they are dry.

Today seemed like a good day to experiment a little, using some of my collected tea bag paper. I decided to build my collage on a piece of muslin so that I could layer and stitch it when I finished. It seemed like it might be a good idea to iron the muslin to a piece of freezer paper, which kept it nice and smooth and provided a work surface as well. I cut up some squares of paper from a magazine and began by gluing them to the muslin with acrylic medium.

For future reference, this background was far more detailed than it needed to be. After the paper was well soaked and down on the muslin I added some fabric shapes and glopped them on with more acrylic medium.

The last layer was tea bag paper, which is fairly transparent, but softens the edges and lightens everything a bit. (That is a stack of my tea bag paper sitting next to the collage)

I let it all dry out in the sun. Didn't take long today. Once it was dry I could see that those darker squares in the background were too dark, so I lightened them up using a white watercolor crayon. I removed the laminated muslin from the freezer paper and layered it with a piece of felt and backing fabric, then I did some stitching to define the beetle and add some detail.

This doesn't look like my work, does it? But kind of fun. I may try some more. As I said, I think the first layer can be pretty simple. The tea bag paper dulled the fabric more than it did the paper, so I added a little color on top. I need to think how to deal with that.  Stitching through all that was kind of a crazy ride—hard to control, but gives it a nice free sketchy look, I think.


  1. Cool technique for a hot day! I think it does look like your work, given the thread doodling you've been playing with recently.

  2. Anonymous4:28 PM

    As I scrolled down and saw the final piece, my head popped back and I thought - - wow. That is very cool. I like your style. Thank you for sharing. Rhonda M.

  3. This is great, I really like the look. Thank you so much for the bookmark - it was waiting for me on my return from China. Cheers Robyn

  4. I like it a lot! My family has thought I was insane ever since I started collecting used tea bags. How we must suffer for our art! LOL!

  5. This is wonderful -- and although it is very different from your usual work, it does have a look of your style -- the black outlines, I guess? At any rate, I love the effect and encourage you to keep saving those teabags!

  6. I really like this piece, Terry. Ah, yes, used tea bags: good for lots of things. Ours are round, from England. Don't know how those would play out.

  7. This looks like a fun departure for you and works well with your doodly stithing. Have you considered cutting teh tea bags away (after stitching the outlines) from the area you'd like to highlight (the beetle in this case)?

  8. Great minds think alike!
    Have you checked out Judy Perez's blog? Here's the link

  9. thanks for the process shots. The beetle looks wonderful!