How to Use Tea Bags in Fabric Art

If you read this blog frequently, you know how much I admire artist Beryl Taylor and her mixed-media fabric art. The magic of Beryl's work is not just in its beauty. What's amazing is how she can create such beautiful works out of relatively mundane materials. It's her attention to detail that makes the difference.

beryl taylor fabric art with tea bags
Mixed-media fabric art with tea bags,
detail, by Beryl Taylor.

Recently Beryl shared some recent artwork with me that's made from, of all things, used tea bags. Now, put the very British Beryl together with tea and you have my complete attention.

In this example of her textile art, Beryl paired used tea bags with quilt fabrics and muslin, stitch, and a paint pen. You could turn these adorable squares into artist trading cards (ATCs), a bookmark, a journal cover, or another form of fiber art.

Here is her method:

Tea Bag Art by Beryl Taylor

Materials

  • Used tea bags, thoroughly dried with the tea removed
  • Stencil
  • Acrylic paint
  • An art pen (such as a gel pen) with white ink
  • Muslin
  • Patterned quilting fabric
  • Felt
  • Dyed scrim (cheesecloth) or other trim
  • Sewing machine, embroidery needle and thread

Directions

beryl taylor fabric art with tea bags
Tea Bag Art by Beryl Taylor

1. Press and cut your tea bags to the size desired. Stencil the design onto tea bags (quantity of your own choice) using acrylic paint.

2. Outline the design with a white pen.

3. Lay each tea bag on a piece of muslin of the same size and free-motion stitch the tea bag to the muslin, around the stenciled design.

4. Lay squares of patterned quilting fabric (approximately ½" wider than the tea bag on all edges) on top of a piece of felt of the same size and machine stitch the quilting fabric to the felt, around the edge of the square.

5. Lay each tea bag on top of a fabric square and machine-stitch the tea bag to the fabric square, around the edge.

6. Stitch the fabric squares to each other to create a hanging strip.

7. In between each connected square lay a thin strip of dyed scrim and stitch in place with straight hand stitching.

Simple and elegant, just like English afternoon tea.

Because Beryl's technique is both subtle and detailed, I like to watch her work. Did you know you can download two of her appearances on "Quilting Arts TV", Episode 707 and Episode 710? Downloading individual episodes is an efficient and economical way of enjoying the mixed-media and fabric art portions of each series.

Just think, if you have a cup of tea while you watch, you'll have a new kind of textile to use in your art later.

P.S. Have you turned a used tea bag or coffee filter into an art supply? How? Tell me about it in the comments section below.

Categories

Blog, Fabric Art

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