Friday, February 22, 2008

The Artful Use of Tea Bags

This is my method for drawing on a tea bag.

1. After steeping your tea, set tea bag on the counter to dry and enjoy that fabulous warm cuppa tea with a dash of cream.

2. When tea bag is completely dry (not damp) carefully remove the staple, unfold top of bag and shake out the dried tea leaves into the trash. Unless you have thought of some way to incorporate these into your art. So far it has not occurred to me, but give me time....

3. Gently, pull seam apart down the length of the bag and fold out flat, brushing away any leaves that may be clinging to the paper.

4. Draw a design on a piece of sketch paper with a black marker to use as a guide and place tea bag on top of design. You should be able to faintly see the drawing through the tea bag. Trace your design onto the tea bag with a permanent ink marker, and fill in the details.

5. Now you can use this tea bag to collage onto paper or fabric using acrylic gel or matte medium.

6. Using acrylic medium, paint the fabric where you will be putting the tea bag a tad larger than the size of the tea bag paper.

7. Press the tea bag onto the wet medium and brush more medium over the top of the tea bag sealing it to your fabric.

8. After the medium dries you can glaze the drawing with layers of transparent paint, use colored pencils, or leave it as is in all its tea stained glory.


  1. Did you try stamping on the bag too? That should be easy also, right? I think I will dry out some coffee filters, I have the cone shaped ones that should make up to a nice "dresden plate", course I would call it something like "distressed plate"....*smile*...

  2. anything you can do to paper should work here. it is just that it is very thin and a little delicate so it won't hold up to a lot of abuse until it has been adhered to something else.

    I like the "distressed" plate idea. that could be fun.

  3. Only you would think of doing this! I just drink the stuff and never thought about making it into art. You exhibit with the CSF looks fantastic!

  4. Anonymous10:46 AM

    Hi Judy. I've been making art with tea bags and candy wrappers for a few years now, ever since seeing them used in beautiful collages at an art gallery. I have a plastic container into which I put the dried tea and coffee grounds, and then sprinkle these back into the earth in my garden or at the local park -- recycling. Your work is beautiful and an inspiration! Rosa, NY

  5. Hi Rosa, thanks.

    Sprinkling the grounds in the garden is a great way to use those leaves and grounds. Unfortunately I don't have a yard where I live.

  6. Anonymous3:06 PM

    Judy- these paper quilts are stunning. I especially love the color and the quilting of the first one- unbelievable. Is the colored paper rice paper or do you use something else as well? When you do your quilting, do you use an additional layer of fabric or a stabilizer and then fuse the whole thing to peltex?
    Thank you so much for sharing.

  7. Thanks Kay,
    Each paper quilt has different kinds of paper. I try to explain in the description of each quilt what I have used to create the piece. The first one with the beetle only uses tea bags. The one with the bird shaman uses rice paper for the bird figure. All the papers except for the blue leaves on the bird shaman piece started out white and became colored by the painted fabric underneath or buy glazes of paint over the top.

    I do not use a stabilizer, the layers of paper and paint give the piece enough body to stitch on. The last two pieces had all the stitching done before I fused them to the Peltex. The first one, I fused to Peltex and then quilted.

  8. Great Idea--I need to start drinking tea more to incorporate this into my collages--I'm more of a coffee drinker. I imagine you could apply a similar principle to a coffee filter as well!

  9. I'm thinking that you could sprinkle the tea leaves on some PDF fabric and then use a spray bottle, get the fabric good and wet and see what happens after it dries. I've been saving those great triangle tea bags, I know someday I'll find the perfect use for them.

  10. So simple and great idea , we feel stupid when we dont think about this

  11. hi, to give the decorated T bags a different surface finish you can wax them, i use an old iron and wax candle. great for antiquey finishes.


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