My Almost Dirty Dozen
My BoHo Flower Vase from Gwen Lafleur's All Mixed Up Workshop

What to do with those soggy tea bags stashed in your purse (or Tea Bag Art in Just 4 Easy Steps With Stencils)

IMG_7120Hi everyone. Its Just Jill McD here with another post for Gwen Lafleur’s Artist Tribe.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever thought about wrapping up a soggy tea bag, stashing it in your purse/pocket, and bringing it home to dry.  Now raise your other hand if you’ve actually done it.  If both of your hands are up and wriggling around like Horshack's in Mr. Kotter’s social studies class, you’re not alone.  I’m here to further enable you. But if your hand or hands are still down by your side, fear not; you too will be out there searching for your own for Tea Bag opportunities once I show you how to make stenciled Tea Bag Art in 4 easy steps.

I am enchanted with Tea Bag Art and have amassed quite a collection of tea bags to work with.  They are remarkably strong, semitransparent little substrates that will add texture and layers of interest to your collages and art journal pages.  You can even embroider them.  

They are inexpensive, (usually free!) and work with many of the supplies the you already own.  As an added bonus, Tea Bag Art is eco-friendly which puts a big smile on Mother Nature’s face. And let’s face it, tea bags are just so darn cute and when paired with one of Gwen’s eclectic stencil design they make me smile too.

So go put the kettle on and then grab a cuppa and let me enable you.


You probably already have all of the supplies you need for this project:

  • Soggy tea bags, (I drink 5 or 6 cups a day so Tea Bags abound in my house),
  • Cookie sheet or other container lined with paper,
  • Fine tip, permanent pen or marker, (I used a black Pigma Sensei by Sakura),
  • Stencils (All the ones I’ve used in this post are from Gwen’s Web Shop with links below), 
  • Pitt Pens, COPIC Markers and acrylic paints in your choice of colors, and 
  • Make-up sponges or other applicators.


  • Staple remover,
  • Print making or Japanese paper,
  • Iron.

Step One - Dry some tea bags

  • Line a cookie sheet or other container with a sheet of paper. (I like to use print making or Japanese papers to capture all of those gorgeous stains to use later in my collages and journals.)
  • Make yourself a nice hot cup of tea, let it steep a few minutes au natural (translated as without any cream or sugar).  Remove the tea bag from your cup and set it aside.  Fix your tea with cream and sugar as you normally would.  Then sit back, relax, and enjoy a cuppa.  (Did't I tell you that this would be easy?)  Or if you're a coffee purist, just toss a handful of tea bags into a small bowl filled with boiling water and let them steep until they reach a color that pleases you.

Tip: Tea bags steeped from sweetened cups can so some amazing things on Japanese paper. I’ve gotten some luscious stains that remind me of red candy lollipops before. However, I've found that tea bags soaked in sweetened tea are easier to tear during the unfolding process.  Experiment to see what works for your style.

A piece of Japanese Paper that was stained with fruit and black tea bags steeped in sweetened hot water.
  • Lay the tea bag, (or tea bags) on the paper to dry until just slightly damp. Depending on your climate, this will take a day or two.  Like Tom Petty said, "The waiting is the hardest part."


Tip: Shop your own kitchen cabinets for some interesting tea varieties. If your anything like me you have a few exotic teas sitting on the back of your shelf that could produce some amazing tea bag papers. In general, tea stained papers from Green teas are more subtle than papers steeped in Black teas.  And while some fruit teas explode with color, others profuse a beautiful caramel color. Don't be afraid to experiment.

Dry tea bags au natural...

Step Two - Prep your tea bags

  • Once your tea bags are damp and fairly dry they are ready to be cleaned. Carefully remove the staple. (A staple remover comes in handy for this.)  I save the tags, (and the strings too sometimes) to use later in my art.


  • Unfold the tea bag to reveal the seam running the center of the bag then carefully tease the seam apart with your fingers.


  • Pour the loose tea out onto a sheet of paper. 


Your tea bags are now ready to use. Sometimes I iron them for a crisp look but if you're an iron phobic, relax; its really not necessary.


  • Save the loose tea to sprinkle in your garden.  Mother Nature will reward you later this summer.


Step Three - Stencil and colorize your design

  • Place a piece of scrap paper on your surface to protect it from anything that might bleed through the tea bag paper.
  • Stencil in the design using acrylic paints applied with a makeup sponge.  Blot sponge on a paper towel before putting it through the stencil.  Since bags are such a thin substrate, a little paint goes a long way and a drier application is better than a wet one….   I used Gwen's Decorative 6 Petal Flower Stencil for this design.
  • Use COPIC Markers and Pitt Pens to add translucent color in the background and white spaces.  I had fun blending colors with my COPICS.IMG_6764


Step Four: Add some detail 

Outline the design and add some finishing details with a fine tip, permanent marker.

And that's all there is to it.  Easy Peasy!  Here is the finished stenciled tea bags along with a few more that I had fun making.


This look was achieved by layering one of the quatrefoil shapes in Michelle Ward's Quatrefoil Set Stencil from StencilGirlProducts over Gwen's Ornamental Compass Mask and then stenciling them together.  I love how these two stencils work together to create investing shapes filled with patterns
Tea Bag made with Gwen's Decorative Medallion Stencil
And lastly, this tea bag was stenciled with Gwen's Ornamental Petals Screen


This is another tea bag that I made using Gwen's Decorative 6 Petal Flower Stencil and some simple embroidered details

I used Gwen's Compass Mask Stencil and the Quatrefoil stenciled tea bag recently to spruce up an old art journal spread.  

Mt journal spread before its makeover

I added some color and made a flap out of a ripped up Art Pouch that I had left over from an old post and a stenciled coffee stirrer.  I glued my tea bag to the front of my hinged flap and then glued it to the page with matte medium.  The flap will give me a place to add some hidden journaling later.   Then I used the same stencil to add pattern and interest to the rest of the spread.


Close up of my hinged flap made from a left over

And here is the finished spread in its entirety.  I'm really glad that I decided to take it to the next level.


I'm so glad you could join me to explore the wonders of stenciled tea bags.  Perhaps you may find yourself stashing soggy tea bags in your purse to bring home and dry soon...  If so, please leave a comment below to let me know.  I'd feel much better if I knew that I wasn't alone with my eccentricities.

Just one more thing before I go.....

Flower Stamens, Peacock Feathers and Plum Blossom Alert!  If you haven't seen Gwen's newly released Spring 2018 Stencil Collection you need to check them out.  I can't wait to get my hands on them and start playing.  And when I do, you can be sure that I’ll be sharing what I make here with you.

Off to have another cuppa…..

Hugs, Jill

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