A couple of years ago, for my Christmas cards, I coloured a large number of square teabags with brusho dye and when they were dry, the cloth I’d laid them on, was really attractively marked. Still got it, waiting for inspiration! I’ve been wanting to colour some more teabags in preparation for some collage work I’m about to do so yesterday I decided to try the colouring again but with a bit more planning on the under cloth.

Above you can see some circular tea bags, leaves removed (almost), laid on a calico base. I hadn’t used these teabags first as we had a box of particularly unpleasant herbal teas to waste, so I was able to remove the dry tea ahead of the dye process. I’ve done it the other way round too, which unfortunately involves being patient while you collect and dry out enough used teabags to make the task worthwhile! In the picture above you can see a little tea residue, which I don’t think matters as it blends with the dye – plus, it is really fiddly slitting the teabag and tipping out every single speck of tea.

Here you can see the teabags completely saturated. They need to dry completely before you take them off. I wasn’t at all sure I liked this colour scheme so before I peeled off the teabags I stencilled over the entire piece. The picture below shows the stencilled teabags, which I love, and the way they partially resist the dye on the cloth background.

I did do another couple of colour schemes as I also wanted to try different colouring methods. The one above, is procion dye – three different colours. The one below is a much brasher colour scheme and that was done with brusho dyes, so probably not colour fast. The circles look as though they have been bleached and they suggested a moon pattern to me, so I then stencilled a brightly coloured bamboo design over the top. I had thought about the size of the calico base in advance because I wanted enough fabric to cover a lampshade drum, hence using the liner design of the bamboo.

I also did a smaller, nine patch piece, using the dynaflow fabric paints. The colours don’t look great wet but they dried nicely and the resulting teabags are the ones used in the picture at the top of the post.

After I’d lifted the bags I stencilled again onto the fabric base and I think I have a piece that would be really good to stitch into at some point. I might even apply some fabric shapes before I begin the hand stitch process. You can still faintly see the outlines of the circular teabags, which I really like.

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