Wednesday, 26 February 2014


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Not a great deal of change since last week, but some progress has been made on my teabag art:


On the left you can see the corner of the acrylic film I made with the used tea, now fully dried and ready for use. The large sheet of watercolour paper is a second piece for drying teabags, this time in a regular chequer-board pattern. To the right is my small leather art journal with pages painted with acrylics in preparation for teabag art. For further details of these, please see previous posts.

Here is a detail of the chequerboard design created by drying the teabags.

17 Teabag Drying Paper - Chequerboard

These are the art journal pages.

18 Art Journal Background

This is some fabric I’ve dyed with tea, ready for stitching some teabags. It has yet to be pressed.

19 Dried Tea-Dyed Fabric

Finally, here is the other piece of teabag-drying paper, with a few more marks added. Once I am satisfied that there are enough, I shall use it for an art project.

20 Teabag Drying Paper

Other activities this week include a bit more progress of my knitting – remember my unravelled dress that I am re-knitting as a jumper? It’s been in abeyance for a while but good to take it up again.

I have also been working hard on learning my new video editing software – Pinnacle Studio 17 – the user manual is pathetic, and it’s not exactly intuitive, and very different from my old version (12). I have found some superb video tutorials on Youtube and also joined the Pinnacle forum, where there is excellent help and advice from people experienced in the use of the software. So even if I haven’t been in my ARTHaven that much, I have not been idle!

Post-Op Beatrice 5 - 21-2-14

Beatrice is doing quite well – she’s still wearing her little dress, but the wound is knitting nicely at last, although more slowly than the vet had hoped, but she put that down to her age. However, a urine test result shows that she has a slight infection, so she is now on antibiotics. There is also some protein in her urine which indicates a slight problem with her kidneys, but the vet won’t address that until the infection has been dealt with. She is a lot more lively now, and getting up to naughty tricks – the other day she climbed the apple tree and got on the roof of the summerhouse and we were worried that she might jump down into the road, but my hubby has “kitty-proofed” the tree trunk with plastic anti-climb spikes to stop her climbing again. She is still pretty clingy and likes nothing better than to climb under the duvet and tuck herself under my arm – making sleep somewhat difficult for me!!

As for me, I have developed a throat infection and a dry cough which hurts my throat… Mum is treating me like a leper and won’t let me in the annexe in case she catches it!

Have a great week, everybody – full of inspiration and creativity.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Teabag Art–Colouring with Distress Inks

After drying and emptying them, my first step in decorating and embellishing the teabags was to add some colour with distress inks. Most of the bags I have saved were Lapsang Souchong which is quite a pale Chinese tea and doesn’t colour the fabric of the bags very much, but leaves them a very subtle tea shade. Sometimes there are little accents of darker colour, and I am planning to use these bags as they are.

10 Teabags Naturally Stained by Tea

After the bags are dried and emptied, they are usually rather creased, and I thought that before I ironed them I could take advantage of this, and swiped them with the Tea Dye distress ink pad to accentuate the creases.

09 Teabag Creases Emphasised by Tea Dye Distress Ink

Here is a selection to which I also added some colour around the edges, using Shaded Violet, Worn Lipstick and Salty Ocean distress inks.

08 Teabags Coloured with Distress Inks

I am planning to stitch these together and add some decorative machine stitching, and backing them onto some calico or old sheeting.

I had some fun experimenting with one of a set of six square rubber stamps that I’ve had for a while – very attractive geometric designs. I used an old metallic ink pad, picking up ink from the copper and gold sections. When stamped, this did not come out particularly metallic, but gave a nice subtle result.

11 Teabags with Rubber Stamping

I am also planning to make a Teabag Art page in my small leather art journal.

Here is the video I made showing the inking process.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Teabag Art–Acrylic Film with Tea

Following on from my previous Teabag Art post, what to do with all that tea that came out of the teabags?? As this is such a frugal, recycling sort of project, it did seem a shame to waste it, and while working on the teabags, I had time to mull over how I might incorporate the dried, used tea in my Teabag Art projects. This is what I came up with.

07 Acrylic Film with Tea

Judi Hurwitt, whose blog I follow, recently posted about creating acrylic films for use in mixed media projects, and I knew I had the answer.

First of all I found a small piece of write-on acetate film, and onto this I drew the squiggles and text with Scotch Quick-Dry adhesive, which comes in a bottle with a nice small nozzle, and is good and sticky. I sprinkled the tea over this and shook off the excess, and set it aside to dry.

I laid the acetate with its tea design onto a larger piece of waxed paper, to catch any overflow of gel medium.

Judi used soft gloss gel medium but I thought this looked a bit thick in the pot, and likely to shift the tea if I started painting it on, or applying it with a palette knife, so instead I chose an acrylic polymer, which is a thickish liquid in a bottle, and squirted that all over the tea. I set it aside to dry, and this took a very long time indeed, because it was so fluid. I also had to try and disperse a number of tiny bubbles that had appeared – I may have been less than careful with the bottle – shaking the liquid introduces bubbles which can be hard to get rid of. I was unable to prick them as their surface tension seemed to be too great, so I pushed them to the edges using my pokey tool. Laborious and time-consuming, but worth the effort in the end.

I kept checking on it, and was not satisfied that it was dry enough to handle for several days. The joys of mixed media art… it certainly develops the virtue of patience (or not!!)… At least in my new ARTHaven, there is plenty of room for setting aside things to dry, while one can work on other things.

Eventually it was dry enough to peel off the waxed paper – the top felt quite dry if a little tacky, but as I peeled it off it was clear that it was still very wet underneath. However, I felt that removing the waxed paper gave the air a chance to get at it and speed up the drying process. After several days it was possible to peel off the acetate sheet, and then to leave it to dry completely.

It was very experimental, and I had no idea if the acrylic polymer would work, or whether it would contain the tea sufficiently for there to be no shedding, but all was well, and I will be able to cut this piece of film into pieces to use in different projects. Here is the video of the whole process.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Teabag Art–Preparing the Teabags

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.

01 Drying Teabag

This is what my piece of watercolour paper looks like now, after several weeks of drying teabags on it:

06 Teabag Drying Paper

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!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014


What’s on Your Workdesk this Wednesday? (Click on the WOYWW logo in my sidebar to find out all about this.) As usual, there isn’t much on mine, I’m afraid. I have had a bit more time and energy over the past fortnight and have actually managed a few sessions in my ARTHaven, and mostly I’ve been working on my teabag art. I am making some videos as I go along, and have spent quite a lot of time editing them, and once I’ve finished they will be uploaded.

WOYWW 246a Teabag Art

On the desk you can see some dried teabags on the left, and some of the teabags which I have emptied and started colouring with distress inks on the right, some with stamping. I have also been experimenting with making acrylic film (I’ve made a video of that, too) and there will be more info on that in due course – you can see the piece I’ve made, and the design has been created using the tea out of the teabags! (Waste-not, want-not…) In the centre, in front of the little cream tin dish, is a collection of very pretty rubber stamps that I am using on the teabags, using a gold stamp pad.

As requested last time I was around, here are the pictures of the Zentangle Valentine card I made for my hubby. (More details here.)

Valentine Card 2014

Inside the card:

Valentine Card 2014 Inside

My hubby enjoys kite-flying when he gets the chance.

I have also been getting the software sorted to run Sheba, my Cougar cutting machine, again. She’s been set up across the corner in my ARTHaven for several months but I have not yet had her running. Now that I have my new iMac, I am going to run her from that, and I needed to get Inkscape (vector drawing software) and Signcut (the software that sends the cutting instructions to the machine) installed, now that I have the Mac manual for setting up the machine.

WOYWW 246b Sheba

Other news – our older kitty, Beatrice, has had a lumpectomy between her shoulder blades and has spent the past week in post-operative sleep – generally cats sleep about 18 hours a day, but I think she’s probably clocked up 23 hours a day. She seems exhausted, and she’s been very clingy and can’t get close enough to us. Phoebe, our other cat, has spent much more time cuddled up with her when she’s on our laps, which is not something that usually happens, so she’s either jealous and doesn’t like all the attention Beatrice is getting, or she’s trying to comfort her and keep her warm!

The vet said that it was important that she didn’t scratch at the wound, and suggested getting a baby’s T-shirt to cover it up. My hubby went to Mothercare and bought the only thing that was small enough – a twin pack of prem baby-grows, which happen to have little frilly skirts on them! Doesn’t she look dinky?

Post-Op Beatrice 1 - 13-02-14

We are still waiting for the lab results on the biopsy – the pre-op needle biopsy suggested that it was probably not malignant, but the lump was very hard and it was difficult to get enough of a sample, and the procedure caused her some discomfort. They needed to do a proper section to be sure, and we are hoping that now it is removed, she will make a full recovery and require no further treatment. If it was malignant, she will have to have a scan (a CAT scan perhaps??) to see if it has spread anywhere else. We really don’t want her to have to go through a lot of aggressive and unpleasant treatment.

Have a good week, everybody.

Edit: We’ve just received the great news that Beatrice’s lump was not malignant. The vet got it all out, and all is well. Now we just have to wait for her to make a full recovery, and hopefully several more years of her gorgeous company.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentine Card 2014

I have had several people ask me to post about the card I’ve made this year for my hubby, so here it is.

Valentine Card 2014

The finished size is A5, and the words spell “Love” in several languages – English, Romanian, Italian (and other Latin languages) and Hebrew. The colour was added using my Derwent Inktense pencils. The design was inspired by a doodled heart I found on Pinterest:


Valentine Card 2014 Inside

This is the first time I’ve made him a Zentangle card and he was very pleased with it! When he gets the opportunity, he enjoys kite-flying.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014


What’s on Your Workdesk this Wednesday? I expect it is tidier than mine, at any rate! My whole ARTHaven is a tip again at the moment, because I haven’t had a lot of time to spend in there lately, what with various other commitments, hospital visits, social engagements etc. and feeling pretty exhausted in between, so it’s been used pretty much as a dumping ground.

I’m really late posting this today – I thought I had plenty of time because I thought today was Tuesday. Duh.

The left-hand side of my ARTHaven is taken up with old cereal packets and other rubbish ready for altering and upcycling, which just get dumped there till I decide what to do with them! I sometimes think my wonderful idea of “zoned work areas” will remain just that – a wonderful idea, but maybe one day I’ll get properly organised!

WOYWW 244a

On the right is all the stuff I’m using to make my Dad’s album, which hasn’t had any further work done on it since I started my “wee sporran.”

On the main work surface I’ve laid some old newspaper to catch the tea from some used teabags. If you think I’ve gone completely mad, please see my previous post on Teabag Art, where you will be reassured as to my sanity – or perhaps not… I love the subtle colour and random shading on the empty used teabags, and I’m looking forward to having enough to make something with.

WOYWW 244b

I’m also working on a Zentangle Valentine card for my hubby but haven’t taken any photos yet, and anyway I don’t want him to see it yet.

In case you are still wondering what this WOYWW is all about, click on the logo in my sidebar and hop over to our hostess Julia’s blog where all will be revealed.

Have a great week, everybody.

Teabag Art and a Naughty Kitty

Some time ago I came across teabag art on the Internet – do a search and you’ll find the most amazing stuff people do with used teabags!! When I told my hubby and our cleaning lady the other day, they both pulled an identical face – they simply didn’t get it! (Does anybody else experience that awful “she’s mad” attitude from their families? Ha ha!!) Anyway, I’ve decided to start saving my teabags and making use of them, but it will be a while before I get enough, because I only produce two a day.

Originally I was just drying them on the corner of my ARTHaven sink, but then I read that if you lay them on a piece of paper to dry, they stain the paper with a lovely random pattern, so this is what I have now started doing, using a piece of watercolour paper.

01 Drying Teabag

Once I’ve got a nice build-up of stains on this sheet, I will be able to use it as a background for art, and will probably scan it to use digitally. I have done this technique with wet leaves, too, but it wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped, but it’s definitely something I am going to try again.

Once the teabags are dry, they need to be emptied so that they can be used. I used a pair of fine, very sharp scissors to make a little slit in the teabag and emptied out the tea.

02 Emptying the Teabags

Here are the teabags I’ve emptied so far. They have a very subtle colour because neither my hubby nor I like strong tea, and we drink either Earl Grey or Lapsang Souchong. If the colour is not bold enough for my projects, I can always enhance them with Distress Inks (tea dye?).

03 Empty Teabags

I have seen them grouped together as a grid and stitched. This patchwork effect can be painted, machine-stitched and hand-embroidered, and any kind of embellishment added. If you, like my hubby and cleaning lady, doubt that something beautiful can be made from something so humble and mundane as an old teabag, have a look at this:

Now, what am I going to do with all the old tea?

04 Tea

(I’ve just noticed the text on the old newspaper i emptied the tea out onto. That was not intentional – honest!)

The other day I saw a guy on Ebay making a broom out of old plastic drink bottles, which just goes to show that you can upcycle anything!!!

Now for my norty kitty. Since we’ve moved, Phoebe has taken it into her head that the furniture is there for her to go all over. She never used to be like this in the old house! Her favourite place is in the bedroom. I have a pine chest of drawers in front of the window, and it gets really warm there when the sun shines (well, it does occasionally!) and also there’s a radiator there, and she does love the warmth. Add to this the fact that I have two Romanian embroidered table runners on there on which I display my little box collection and one or two other bits and pieces, but this stuff is regarded by Phoebe as so much clutter to get in her way, so she pushes it all aside so she can lie on the nice soft warm fabric. This is what it is supposed to look like.

Chest of Drawers pre-Phoebe

Pretty, isn’t it! (Well, I think so.) Anyway, the other night I found it in the worst state ever after Phoebe had thrown her weight about!

Chest of Drawers post-Phoebe

What a mess.

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