Process: Tea Art Time-Lapse

I make pictures with tea bags. The process of making my art into products is complex. It starts by steeping tea in bags and arranging them to dry on paper creating patterns. An absorbent pad under the paper helps draw the water from the teabags, leaving tea particles and color deposited on the paper surface.

The designs dry slowly, and their colors are ephemeral and fragile. Pressing the design with a hot iron flattens the warped paper and intensifies the pattern. I photograph the designs before they begin to fade. I never add coloring or dye. It removes some of the beautiful subtlety from the print. I digitally manipulate some of the colors to restore them to their original vibrancy or change them completely.

A digital acid printing process is used to transfer the designs to natural fibers like silk or wool. Before the fabric is printed, it is coated with a solution that prevents the dye from dispersing, then dried. 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 printing technology makes it possible to print mirror images simultaneously on the front and back of the heavy silk wool blend I make the scarves with. When the fabric is finally printed and washed to remove the coating, it is cut to size and finished by hand with a rolled hem.

The scarves and pillow covers are neatly folded and gift-packaged individually in organza silk draw-string silk pouches for delivery.