Process: Tea Art Time-Lapse
The process of transforming my artwork into products is complex. I begin by steeping tea in bags and arranging them on paper to create intricate patterns. An absorbent pad under the paper helps draw the water from the teabags, leaving tea particles and color deposited on the paper surface.
Once the water is extracted, the designs dry slowly, but their colors are ephemeral and fragile. Pressing the paper with a hot iron flattens the warped paper and intensifies the pattern. I photograph the designs before they begin to fade. I have experimented with adding dye to the teabags, but it resulted in removing some of the beautiful subtlety from the print. I digitally manipulate some of the colors, when needed, to restore them to their original vibrancy or change them completely.
A digital acid printing process is used to transfer the designs to natural fabrics. Before the fabric is printed, its fibers are coated with a solution that prevents the dye from dispersing. The acid dyes permanently bond to the fabric on a molecular level, creating deep, rich colors. After the fabric is run through the printer, it is steamed, washed, and dried to further boost the colors.
Advanced technology makes it possible for a mirror image of the designs to be printed simultaneously on the front and back of the heavy silk wool blend used to make the scarves. When the fabric is finally printed and has been washed to remove the coating, it is cut to size and finished by hand with a rolled hem.
The resulting scarves and pillow covers are neatly folded and gift-packaged individually in organza silk draw-string pouches.