Monday, 8 June 2015

Travelling Sketchbooks May - A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down

I have long been interested in tea bag art ever since coming across the work of artist Jennifer Collier who remakes household items from found & recycled papers, giving new life to items that would otherwise go unloved or thrown away. A few years back she visited my daughter's senior school and got them all making incredible things out of plastic carrier bags and cards using empty tea bags filled with collected items like old postage stamps and pressed flowers, then waxing them with melted candles. She now runs Unit Twelve in Staffordshire,  a contemporary craft and exhibition space running a varied programme of workshops one of which I was lucky enough to attend. An amazing place and well worth a visit to see how she has made dresses and shoes out of tea bags.   


So for May's Travelling Sketchbook I turned to recycling tea bags using a combination of stitch and print. We are not short of tea bags in our house as we regularly enjoy a nice cup of tea and a sit down and if we are feeling a bit peckish then a nice biscuit too (but more of that later). In tea bag art you can use the bags after dunking or straight from the box, all virginal and white.  I prefer to use them after enjoying the delights of a freshly brewed cup of tea, my favourite being Assam or Breakfast Tea although Yorkshire Tea is hard to beat.  I do enjoy my cuppa well brewed which is really the way it should be, three or four minutes being the optimum but I know some people who barely give the tea bag enough time to say hello to the cup before it's whipped out and chucked in the bin. Not a good flavour and a terrible waste of good tea. For that reason when I visit friends' houses and they ask that all important question of tea or coffee (or something stronger if your host is feeling particularly chipper) I err on the cautious side and plump for a nice cup of coffee instead, not wanting to appear rude if I had not guzzled their tea straight down or didn't get the chance to jettison it into the nearest pot plant.  


Anyway on to the matter in hand. Used tea bags take on a characterful antique and stained look that goes down so well in mixed-media art.  After said cup of char the squeezed tea bags are left to dry on a piece of kitchen towel then carefully cut open and the used tea emptied out. I iron them (essential) and they are ready then to do something creative with. Here I have stamped various designs using wooden stamping blocks, sewn them altogether then free-machine stitched over the designs. 


Here I have used a Tea Pig 'temple'.  I ask you!  Nothing so mundane as a tea bag for the Tea Pig band wagon. Rather expensive too in my opionion. 


Just so happens I have a little tea cup and saucer wooden stamp ideal for borders on pages. 


So back to the subject of a nice biscuit to accompany a nice cup of tea and a sit down. A favourite book of mine is funnily enough called 'A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down'.  Written by Nicey and Wifey it's a hilarious book about having a sit down, a biscuit and a nice cup of tea. As Nicey so nicely puts it in the book, a cup of tea without a biscuit is a missed opportunity.  Couldn't agree more and for me, as a bit of a treat and sugar lift I turn to Tunnock's Caramel Wafers. 


But you can't beat a good old classic like the Custard Cream or Chocolate Bourbon, ideal for dunking with the double thickness of biscuit and creamy middle. Always a bit of a shock if the biscuit you are dunking plops off into the depths of your cup of tea only for you to become reacquainted with it later when you are drinking the dregs of  your tea. A bit of a sludgy mess.


I added a little tea-potted history too about the origin of the tea bag taken from where else but 'A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down.'   Strangely enough it was first invented by the Americans.  Anyway all this blogging has given me a bit of a thirst so off for a nice cup of tea and a sit down accompanied by a 'Nice' biscuit.  Happy brewing and be  mindful to give the tea bag enough time to build a deep meaningful relationship with the cup before whisking it away. 

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