Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tutorial Tsunami day 4 the wave hits shore

A tutorial for printing on tea bags

I have a large bowl that sits on my counter that I toss my tea bags in after I use them. When it gets to the point where it is overflowing, kind of like now, I tear each one open and dump out the tea.

Then I flatten them out and put them in large ziplock bags.

I am saving tea bags not only for my own use, but also for my upcoming Tea & Ephemera workshops at Create in August.

I really like the tea bags that are folded in half with a staple at the top because they make a nice sized piece of paper and if you are lucky you can gets some pretty nice little labels too. Good fodder for collage.

Here are two types of tea bags opened up to show the size and shape of the paper.

In the Tea and Ephemera workshop we are going to be playing with several different ways to use the lowly tea bag as an artistic component in mixed media textile collage.

Why the tea bag? Well, tea bags are a thin light weight paper that is translucent allowing one to see through them, they have a lovely tea stained patina giving them a vintage paper look and they are so thin that when it is adhered to fabric it literally disappears. It also has the benefit of being paper so media like inks and colored pencils work beautifully on them.

One of the things that is fun to do with tea bags is print on them. The way to do this is scan an image into your computer or find some copyright free imagery on the net, and print it out on your printer. I have a black and white toner printer that I bought for this purpose, because toner ink will not bleed if it gets wet the way ink jet will.

Place a tea bag over the  printed image and tack it in place with a small piece of scotch tape on each corner.

Place the paper with the tea bag on it in the paper tray in the correct position to print out, usually it is face down top of paper going into the printer first. To double check place an x or other mark on a blank piece of paper and print your image on it, making note of how you placed the paper in the paper tray and the direction of the image when it came out.

Here is the printed tea bag, ready to be collaged.

Another thing to try, is printing a color image on a tea bag.

This is a photo I took recently at a garden center and altered in Photoshop.

Follow the same procedure as with the black and white toner image, lining up the tea bag on the printed photo and tape in place.

After printing out the image spray a coat of fixitive on the tea bag to keep image bleeding to a minimum when adhering it to the fabric. I usually use gel medium to glue the tea bags to my fabric, but in this case I might opt for using Mistyfuse.

If you want to spend an evening exploring multiple ways of using teabags in your art, join me Thursday, August 26, 6:00-9:00 pm at Create here in Chicago.

Now go over to Gloria's blog for a tutorial on Shibori with fabric paint

Then over to Alma's blog for a tutorial on recycling magazines.

Thanks for riding the wave with us. Here's a list of all the other artist tutorials participating in this tsunami.


  1. guess i must stard drinking tea ;-)
    thanks judy for this great tutorial!

  2. thank you judy! these are simply beautiful!! as Marlis said, time to start drinking tea or hangin' out at tea houses!

  3. These tutorials that you are sharing with us are great, thanks!

    I loved the tea bag tutorial especially.

    As always your blog is the best

  4. love it Judy.

    Great pictures and tut.


  5. Geez, I brew at least two big pots of iced tea a day and I can't believe that I haven't been saving those ten tea bags to play with! Thanks for a great idea. By the way, giving them a little soak in some Bubble Jet Set will eliminate the need for the sprayable fixitive. (I just hate the smell of the spray and happen to have some BJS on hand.)

  6. thanks everybody!

    Wabbit, good tip on the bubble jet set, hadn't thought of that. Don't you think we are all getting so much smarter thanks to the internet and the ability to share our wisdom!

  7. Anonymous12:14 PM

    I won't be taking up tea drinking but i will be buying in some tea bags. What a great tutorial. Thank you.

  8. What a great idea.... I am going to have making some sun tea.... thank you for sharing your great idea. It is great that all of you that are participating in this are sharing your talents through your tutorials... it is very much appreciated!

  9. This is great! I love the vintage look of the tea stained bags. Have you ever used the silk Revolution Tea bags? I have a bunch of them saved but haven't used them yet. You have inspired me to get busy!

  10. This is a fantastic tutorial Judy! Love it. Now to make some tea.

  11. Hi Bee, I haven't tried the silk revolution tea bags, just various paper tea bags.

  12. Thank you so much Judy. I love the effects you get on the tea bag. I'd better learn to like tea! Have a great week.

  13. This sounded so great I had to try it right away. Well, here's a bit of info that will save some of you the trouble.
    1st try, my tea bag ended up wrapped around the rubber rollers that grab the paper.
    2nd try, my tea bag got ripped off and is still inside my printer somewhere.
    3rd try, I lightly sprayed my tea bag with 505 temp repositionable glue, glued it to my paper and then printed.
    YEAH !! this time it worked. I delicately peeled it off the paper and ironed it between two pressing sheets to remove as much glue as possible.
    Have fun but be very careful not to damage your printer.


    1. Thanks. I'm worried about that tape, too. Laser printers get hot. I don't want to bake sticky tape to my roller.

  14. great tips Dawn thanks!

    every printer is different and will behave accordingly. Both my printers have handled teabags (4-5 on a page even) taped on at the corners with out any problems but there are probably other printers with less space between the rollers that may snag a loose piece of paper and cause problems. The spray mount is a great option.

  15. oooh, all the tea bags I have thrown away. But not any more! thanks for this tutorial.
    Happy days, Joanie

  16. I love this. I once met a woman who sewed the tea bags together and then used them in printmaking for her paper.

    I am wondering if you could used transfer techniques on the tea bags as well?

  17. Oh, and I have also used dryer sheets for another translucent paper quality...

  18. Kelley, you definitely can do transfers on teabags. I have used Taps and made great image transfers.

  19. This sure looks like fun, and what a beautiful result you're getting. I have tried printing on tissue paper in the same way and it also very fun to try. Thanks for the tutorial!

  20. Anonymous3:22 AM

    Gosh, I am loving this and I can't wait to make one. Have to buy tea bags as I have been using fresh tea leaves. So darn pretty. You and Alma are my fav artistic girls! Thanks for sharing. PS posted it on my blog because I just loved it. Hope that was okay. Blessings Eden

  21. I'm gonna have to switch brands - bigger bags - DH will never notice...thanks for this

  22. Lori, try using some of the pitcher sized ice tea bags too. They are nice and big!

  23. Thanks for this post... great tips, and wonderful links.

  24. SK Wolf3:20 PM

    Thanks, Judy, very helpful for getting me to start this technique.

  25. I drink gallons of tea every day...... I have been keeping my teabags and crafting with them but have never tried printing on them....... I feel a project coming along

  26. Please dump the tea on the soil in your garden. Any garden.
    Love this idea... worried about the tape cooking onto the roller in my laser printer. It gets hot. That's part of the printing process. But I'm going to try something with this.


This is my old blog, please visit my new website at

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.


Related Posts with Thumbnails