Teabag quilt

I have been working on teabags for the past few months. I am getting very tired of the tea leaves and soggy bags hanging around my kitchen drying.

I have been making small quilts A4 and 9 teabag sized efforts as part of my #teaandhome project. This looks at what ‘home’ in Edinburgh means to me after living here for 5 years. Drinking redbush tea is a big part of that. Jon drinks builders tea. The juxtaposition of the circles and rectangles has been interesting to play with in terms of teabag strings , mini journals and now quilts.

I had been playing with my hand carved stamps and layering the teabags with mandalas, text, hand written and printed. I was thinking of sizes in-terms of mounting them. However it struck me at 4.30am the other day that they might make a nice larger piece.

So I laid them out on the table. This configuration was too long and thin.

This felt a bit abstract and the fill in bags looked a bit out of place. So I printed sections of mandalas on the blanker bags and then added circular bags to the design.

All the layering and sewing has made some of the joints a bit fragile so I am wondering how to proceed.

Idea one- is to quilt it with padding and a back.

Idea two – to use an iron Vilene (interfacing) on the back

It is for a seminar that Jon and I are presenting in September and it would be good if people can touch it – without making holes in it.

I am leaning towards the Vilene and maybe a trim around the edge

I will keep you posted

I seem to have forgotten to post pics of my hand carved rubber stamps – here is the set I used on the quilt

Finishing off my tea and home mini journal

Tea bags with white acrylic paint ready for stamping

Trial stamping of my cup and saucer stamps

Added the poem

I decided to add teacups to the two blank pages.

When the glue has dry- fold the joints and glue the two strips together only attaching the first and last panels. I use gel medium.

When storing you will need to add grease proof paper between layers. For some reason the gel medium stays slightly sticky on tea bags.

Tea and home

Tea is an important drink for me. I have been using it in my art . Last year I had a spate of dipping paper in tea to add layers. So using bags as a substrate seemed an easy step. I have been making collaborative tea bag chains with my friend Fran in California.

Where we sewed old dried bags together and then decorated them sending them back and forth to each other adding layers.

I am laid up at the moment with a sore knee and needed a project that would be a bit fiddly and keep me sitting still ….. I decided to have a go at repeating the zine fold mini journal – but by sewing old teabags together.

I used my hand carved rubber stamps of doors to decorate this one – keeping within my current theme of ‘home’

Preparing the tea bags is a bit time consuming. Fran in California can let them dry out side full of tea leaves. In Scotland I have to empty the leaves whilst damp, which means they can rip a bit , let them dry, and then remove the last dregs of leaves. (Jon is being very patient.)

When the bags are dry I sew 4 together using blanket stitch.

I found that I need 8 – 4 for each side of the mini journal and to give the opening of the ‘zine fold’ and strength to the design

I am having fun messing around adding my normal layers

These above are doodled on and then stencilled White acrylic

Below – I doodled with a water soluble purple pen and spritzed

The I added the white acrylic and spritzed orange ink through a stencil

The next stage is a layer of gel medium so that the seams and any ripped bags are reinforced.

Then I add a white rectangle of white acrylic to each bag/ page – I tried stamping on the teabag itself but my inks were lost on my mad backgrounds.

I decided to write a poem about my relationship with tea and Jon, I don’t know why it always tastes better when he makes it.

Tea and home

He brings me one in the dark

6am

Sometimes I am not ready

For the perfect cup

The correct heat

The right strength and amount of milk

It sits cooling as I check my social media

At other times I sip the almost scalding liquid

As it hits the right spot

Sigh -(exhale make the right noise)

‘That’s the best cup I have ever tasted’

It feels like home.

I thought I would add the poem to a tea based mini journal.

I hand carved a few tea cup rubber stamps to use as decoration.

I have given up trying to be too neat and tidy. Carving so small with my tiny v blade seems to create simple almost naive shapes that I quite like.

Rubber stamp carving

I have always liked Lino cutting and really enjoy the feeling of cutting into butter that you can get when carving rubbers. I use Lino and wood cutting tools. Last year ‘The ‘Flying Tiger’ stores sold kits. https://uk.flyingtiger.com/ which were very reasonably priced.

I have been wanting to add to my Edinburgh building collection – I have a stamp of the Scott Monument that I have used regularly in my art over the past couple of years

I wanted to do an Edinburgh Castle. I found a view without too many crenellations. I always draw designs on the rubber with biro- it’s easily removed if you make a mistake and is a good sized line to cut.

The problem with making stamps is that they have to be a reflection of what you want printed …. the Scott Monument is symmetrical …..

I now have a fab back to front stamp of the Castle. I decided to leave the back ground in the stamp and to carve at an angle so that it looks like rain …..

I look out for rubbers in office supply shops and Paperchase sales have been a great source they reduce their’s in different shapes and sizes down to 50p regularly.

I was so fed up with my back to front Castle, that I had a go at doing a variety of smaller stamps

I wanted to try a mandala – this is quite tricky because you have to decide what you want black/ white/ line etc – instead of just solid shapes. I am not naturally neat enough to do very neat complicated designs, when cutting.

I was pleased with this one so I did another. Remembering to take some prints when it was just an out line, so that I could do two colour printing

I also really liked the bird design so I added it to a pen and ink mandala

The bird worked so well I decided to carve a larger design with 6 birds

This uses the Flying Tiger rubber blocks – which look like liquorice Allsorts from the side – they are layers of colour so that you can see how deep you need to carve. Which is very handy.

The blocks come in black and white or blue and pink ( when you can get them ….)

Below is a selection of prints. I used acrylic paint applied with a paint brush ……..

Below is a collage of some art journalling pages I added the stamps to

Making ‘zine’ formats

I can’t remember if I have written about these before. I like working in a ‘zine’ format because of the 3d element. My friend @dar63 on Instagram started making some recently and I loved her lush layers and jewelled colours do I asked her if she fancied doing some collaborations. We have worked together in the past.

You can tell which pages are mine because of the black ink doodles 😂😂

I have been experimenting with using water soluble pens and spraying my mandalas so I used some of these as a base layer.

I added designs to the front and the back and added gesso to surface to seal it and add texture

I added a variety of things to the surface

Strips of typed text, large text, more gesso, stitching, white pen , spray ink and magazine images.

I like drawing of the inside of the zine. So that when they are standing up you get an interesting juxtaposition of the two sides

The bottom design in the above pic includes a zine designed by a friend Fran that is based with me in Edinburgh.

I hand stitched the edges in this case

Preparing a found book for art journalling

I like to use second hand books for journalling. There is a comic book range in Scotland called ‘the Broon’s’. They produce cook books and gardening books( Waverley Books) that look like old journals and are a nice weight of paper and size for art journalling.

The paper is a bit smooth so I like to prepare a few pages before I start journalling

Today I added gesso to a page with a credit card and then dabbed acrylic paint through a commercial stencil. By adding the paint first it means that you can rub the paint off the page with a baby wipe or damp cloth to get a more interesting result

I like commercially produced stencils but they can look a bit samey when lots of people use them.

So I use doilies that I find in second hand shops. Lace or crochet work well. If you do use them – make sure you dry them well in-between use or they rot and smell bad .

I covered the print below with a layer of watered down paint.

I always use acrylic for mixed media journalling because I make lots of layers that I don’t want to run into each other. I am dyslexic and have trouble with upside down and the wrong way round – I added the cover design on the back of the book so all the pages are upside down …….

I always try and make paint go as far as possible so I spread what was left of the blue onto some pages with a credit card and through another stencil.

The pages of the book are such fun I don’t often add a lot more before journalling.

The cover of the book is quite shiny so I scored it with a scalpel blade before I decoupaged it.

I used a selection of different papers – the back is upside down tooo. And then added details, texture and random text from magazines

Reflecting on my Soul Restoration process

I have been working on the ‘SoulRestoration’ course by Melody Ross since the 12th of January. I am enjoying the process of art making regularly in my journal. The art seems to get looser and looser.

I have always been messy. It has been great using my stress protector mandalas as back grounds and finding a more natural ‘Tess’ process.

I am still drawn to blues and am working through the stack of gelatos that I acquired in Korea. I love them ,but won’t be replacing in-kind because of all the plastic.

Debbie Howard introduced me to them when I complained that I didn’t like working with oil pastels in my art journal. They are water soluble, highly pigmented and deliciously squidgy, the consistency’s almost like lipstick or face paint.

It’s been interesting progressing through the stages that Melody has designed . Debbie is a mentor and sounding board after training as a facilitator with The Brave Girl University last year. I think it is important to feel supported through this process. I feel held

There is a lot of industry – internal processing and sitting with how you feel. My stomach is tightening just at the thought of ‘it’.

I journal and write notes as I watch the videos, text Debbie and use Instagram and Face book to show and tell. I wanted to do this because of the regular journalling. There is less built in art journalling than I thought there would be. I need to process the ideas and feelings through art making.

My group of friends in Oxfordshire are meeting once a fortnight to do the course with Debbie whilst I am in Edinburgh.

There is an isolation from the group but I am enjoying the space to create my own ideas and images. I did go back to bed one day and hide because I didn’t want to work through some hard issues. I felt much better after I plucked up the courage to just get on with it

My pages over the last few weeks

I added a mandala sticker by Emily Lagore a long term friend on Instagram