Some time ago, I watched a Colouricious video on Youtube (I subscribe to their channel) – one of a series on making things from recycled stuff and rubbish.
I was really intrigued by this, and especially that they managed to achieve a look that was exactly like leather, and the end result certainly didn’t look like used teabags!
Recently I decided to have another look at this, and googled “teabag art” and was astounded at the amazing things people were making with these humble little objects that most people throw away without a second thought.
I started saving my teabags, and asked my hubby to do the same. We drink Lapsang Souchong or Earl Grey tea, both of which are quite pale, so we are not getting the darker staining on the bags that you’d get with regular “builders’ tea” – how I wish I’d saved the mountain of used teabags produced by our builders during the months they were working on our house!! Anyway, they are still stained, but more subtly, and being lighter, lend themselves to further colouring with distress inks etc.
My hubby also started saving his herb “teabags” – I don’t think they should call this stuff tea because it’s never seen a tea bush in its life, and bears no resemblance to that most majestic and restorative of beverages!! His bags were made of different stuff (not much texture), were a different shape, and the stuff inside went rather solid when dry, and was quite revolting when taken out – especially the ginger “tea” which produced some stuff like cement!! I told him not to bother keeping them any longer, but just to save real teabags.
To start with, I was drying them on the corner of my ARTHaven sink, until I discovered online that if you dry them on a piece of paper (preferably watercolour paper which is substantial enough not to fall apart when wet), you get some very interesting stains, and these papers can then be used subsequently in art projects.
This is what my piece of watercolour paper looks like now, after several weeks of drying teabags on it:
I have discovered that you can, to a certain extent, control the shape of the marks left by the wet bags by how you place them down on the paper. The most interesting ones are created by screwing the teabag up so that its creases make contact with the paper. Many of these initial patterns are reminiscent of roses, and I am planning to make a piece using this paper as a background, entitled “Tea Rose” and embellished with 3-D paper roses made from tea-stained papers, and keeping the colours brown and sepia.
I am also planning to create a more organised background sheet by laying the teabags flat in a patchwork design. This should give a chequer-board effect which will be suitable for embellishing in a different way.
With teabag art, you certainly get the opportunity to make art out of every stage of the procedure!!
Once the teabags are dry, they need to be emptied. In order not to destroy the bag, I made a little slit, close to the edge, with a pair of very sharp, fine scissors, and tipped out the dry tea onto a piece of newspaper. While I was working on the bags, I had time to consider to what use I might put all this tea – with such a frugal and recycling project as teabag art, it would be most pleasing to be able to use the tea as well, so meanwhile, I stored it in a jar while I thought about how I could use it.
The empty teabags are quite creased. Before using them, the Colouricious team ironed them flat, but I thought that for certain effects, I could make use of these creases, so up till now, I haven’t ironed any of them.
Here is the video I made of the preparation of the teabags for making teabag art.
I shall be uploading subsequent videos in due course, so watch this space to see where this train of inspiration takes me! I am finding it fascinating that you can make art out of anything, with a bit of imagination! – and a lot of help from the Internet – all those hours languishing on the recliner because I haven’t got the energy to do anything else are not wasted, as during those times, Youtube and a Pinterest have become my dear friends!!
A final note on my videos. Just before we moved, I purchased a new video camera (a Samsung) on the recommendation of Lindsay the Frugal Crafter who had recently upgraded her camera to this model. I have set up a rig attached to the shelf above the main work zone in my new ARTHaven and my technique is gradually improving! In order to produce HD videos I have had to upgrade my computer – my two Windows 7 laptops are not powerful enough, and for some time I’d been considering moving over to Mac, but was held back by the fact that I am heavily invested in Windows and have a lot of excellent third-party software for which there is no Mac version. However, with the discovery of the Parallels software, I have gone ahead and can run Windows 7 alongside the Mac OS on my new iMac, and can benefit from the ease of the Mac interface and the speed and power of an up-to-date setup. There was no way I was going to “upgrade” my laptops to that most horrible of inventions, Windows 8, and anyway, the hardware was not up to the job.
I have upgraded my Pinnacle Studio video editing software from version 12, which I have been using for years but is now becoming rather limited, to version 17, which has a radically redesigned interface and a much more professional approach, can deal with many more video formats, and from which one can upload direct to Youtube! It’s a sharp learning curve, not helped by the fact that the user manual is absolutely hopeless, but there is lots of help online, and I am now mastering such techniques as keyframing which are helping to develop my skills. I do love learning new things on the computer!
None of this would have been possible before we moved, where our “broadband” speed was a joke. We are now operating at sensible and usable speeds with fibre-optic broadband, which means that uploading even a SD video does not take all night!
So from now on, my video uploads will be in full HD. With the new setup, the brilliant new user-friendly camera and my growing familiarity and expertise with the new software and hardware, you can look forward to seeing more of Shoshi’s videos!