Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Upcycling Materials: Using Tea Bags for Craft Projects

There are many different uses for using tea bags as materials and supplies in craft projects. My favorite use for tea bags is utilizing them in paper crafts and decoupage. Since the tea bags are usually an item that would be disposed of it is always nice to collect the bags as wonderful staple to your upcycling materials stash for your next project. They create a diffusing layer that is a really fun way to create depth and texture in collages simply from utilizing your leftovers from an afternoon cup of tea :)

Once you have used your tea bag(s) all you need to do is snip the top portion of the bag just under the staple keeping the string and staple off to the side.  I like to save the string for other projects of course ;) but feel free to get rid of that portion if it is of no use to you.

Once the top is cut you can unfold the bag and then gently pull the sides apart opening the bag flat. If you do these steps while the bag is wet the bag will be light in overall color with little to no dark spots. If you would like to set the bag out to dry before cutting the bag, color can come out more ombre. If you want to cut the bag open flat then let the tea leaves sit on the bag as everything dries you will achieve a spotty tie dye wash.

Please keep in mind when cleaning up the bag to dispose of the tea leaves in the trash or compost before rinsing the bag in the sink.

Set the bags and strings on a shammy cloth to dry helps draw out all the moisture to dry.  Once they are dry you end up with a stack of tea bags ready for your next project!

Here is a quick project example to show the tea bags in action-

For the first layer on the canvas I attached heart shaped paper cutouts to the front of an artist canvas. You can do this in any fashion you chose. I just played around with them until I found an arrangement I liked. 

Once the base layer was dry you are all ready to add the tea bags for a second layer.

Paint Mod Podge or whatever glue you prefer on the back side of the tea bag and smooth it slowly with the brush on top of the area on your artwork. You can also put slight pressure on the bag including the wrinkles to create a leathery or more worn look to the layer. Try out seeing the results both ways- each technique brings a wonderful  and different element to a wide range of art projects so the possibilities are endless!

Once the second layer with the tea bag dries feel free to keep adding bags and layering on top of the canvas until you achieve your desired look and opacity.  When you decide enough is added to the overall piece and you are ready to finish it up you can add several more layers of Mod Podge or whatever sealer you prefer to use. 

Here you can see how the tea bags create a wonderful transparent layer that lets the shape and color come through. You can see the 2 stripes within the band that are created when the tea bags overlap. As you can see stacking multiple layers of the bags darken and diffuse the initial layer.

Hopefully you are inspired by this upcycled tip and will try out using tea bags on your projects too. Send us an email if you try it out- we would love to include your project on our site :)

Happy Making!!! XOXO, KC

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