This is the archive for the ‘teaching/lectures’ Category

Tea Bag Papers

March 27th, 2021

I’ve been asked how I prepare tea bag papers for use in projects and thought I’d make a small how-to. Here goes:

1. Save used tea bags – I let mine dry and keep them in a plastic bag until I’m ready to work on a batch. If they are dry you can just rewet them. I just soak them in a small plastic tub for a min or two. (You can buy tea bag paper online but I like the look and tones of the used bags. And they’re free – I drink a lot of tea.)

Image of used tea bags Image of soaking tea bags
Dried Tea Bags and Soaking Tea Bags

2. Carefully snip where strings are attached and remove tea tags. (one brand uses little staples to attach the string which is a bit more tedious to remove with out damaging the paper. BUT, sometimes a tear here or there will add texture to a project.) I save the tags as sometimes I’ve used them in a project. I work on a paper towel.

3. Carefully unfold the wet bags without tearing. (If hot, allow to cool.)
Most tea bags are made from rectangular paper, folded down the center after the tea is added, then folded in half cross wise with open edge corners folded and the tag attached. I have run into tricky bags – circular, or two squares crimped together and they wouldn’t work this way but who knows, they might have other uses.

Image of removing tea bag tags Image of unfolded tea bag
Remove tag and unfold

4. Discard the used tea, rinse carefully under running water, and lay flat to dry. (You may notice I use the word carefully a lot – there is a reason!)

Image of open tea bag Image of empty tea bag papers
Open paper with tea and pile of empty papers ready to rinse.

5. You can lay rusty objects on top while drying to make marks if you wish and wet with fresh tea, or gently place in a dye bath to adjust colors. (The ones shown here do not have any additional dying treatments.)

6. I usually save a number of used bags and do a batch of 6 or 10 at once. This works for me but you could do them one by one or lots more at once. Once I have a dried number of sheets I can begin a project. (The ones drying in the image below are stained by the various teas they contained.)

Image of drying tea bag papers Image of tea bag papers
Drying papers and my stash

I prefer to work in a serendipitous manner and take advantage of whatever happens. If you like more control you could take notes as you work and adjust batches as you observe what happens. Your tea, water in your area, length of time in a dye bath, etc. all can affect the results.

Freshmen Drawing 2017

November 17th, 2017

Only three classes left in my drawing class this semester! WOW – how did that happen?

image of students deawing

Drawing class-Color

November 18th, 2016

One of my favorite exercises I have my drawing students do is to draw/paint with watercolors a set up of white objects with colored gels on the lights. It adds to the study and observation of values, helping to train their eye to see what they see and not what they think they know is there. It’s also pretty and a bit dramatic.

Color setup
Color set up for my drawing class at philadelphia University.

Drawing 101

September 2nd, 2016

School has begun…

First week of drawing class
Different styles of working…

Starting with intense observation, looking, questioning, comparing… To me seeing is the first step in drawing.

Drawing a shell
Drawing a shell

I love how this student decided to prop up her object!

Sketching supplies ready to go!

August 29th, 2015

I was showing my students my small bag I keep at the ready to take on a hike or quick car trip for sketching/watercolors and thought I’d share it here. This is the minimum I take. (I’ve taken this on planes to work in my sketchbook on long flights—have to remove sharp objects and water…) I can grab a larger brush or two, larger sketchbook or watercolor pad if I feel I’ll need them but I’ve spent many happy times with these few supplies.

From top left: extra mixing pan, simplest box of paints, water container with folded paper towels to wrap around it (keeps any drips dry and gives a supply of paper), and small watercolor blocks. Bottom row: folding brushes plus a slightly larger but short one, magnifying glass, variety of pencils and micron pens, kneaded eraser in small tin to keep it free of lint etc, and misc items ’cause, you never know. They include small post-its, scotch tape, small straight edge, good scissors, and several knives.

Some of these things are faves that mean a lot to me. The water container I’ve had from a paint set when I was 10 years old, the magnifying glass belonged to my grandfather and the straight edge to my father-in-law. The brushes were an investment, but I’ve had them for years and they are like new. The rest can be found in most art supply stores.


Watercolor supplies for a day hike.

They fit in a little bag that I think came from REI years ago – don’t know if they still have it. It also holds my cell phone, has a clip for car keys and pockets for ID etc. It all zips securely and slips around my neck, freeing both hands for hiking as our hikes always seem to entail climbing over rocks. I will often add a sun visor to hang on the strap.

Full watercolor bag
Small bag for supplies.

If I need more, I can just slip this into another bag or back pack with my folding stool, water bottle, extra supplies and bug spray!

iPhone Croquis

May 27th, 2015

When I teach figure drawing I work with each student but then leave them alone a bit to let them concentrate without my wandering the room. One day as they were working on croquis, I did some sketching of my own – on my iPhone – with my finger! Used Sketchbook Pro app. Bit of model, bit of students – Results were crying out to be put to use…

Croquis Pattern
Drawn on iPhone

Last night I joined a group on Tuesday evening who draw with a life model. This group concentrates on croquis for 3 hours. I will say I do like working with charcoal better! But this was fun and made the point that not having a sketchbook with one is no reason for not sketching… they ALWAYS have their phones with them!