was told that good tea does not come in a bag and it does not
have staples. I was not brought up with any knowledge of tea ceremonies.
There was no boiling of water, no steeping, no pouring off of
impurities and certainly no time spent contemplating over a cup
of tea. My tea ceremony was instant hot water, a bag of Lipton's,
some maple syrup and out the door. It also included, "...the
mystical saving of the tea bag for future use." (Roz Chast,
"The Ancient Tea Ceremony of Astoria", The New Yorker.)
For over three years, I have been making drawings on tea bags.
It started when I used tea to stain canvas and decided not to
throw away a few dozen tea bags. A large pile of them sat on my
table and eventually dried out. I picked up a tea bag, pulled
off the string, undid the staple, emptied the tea and opened it
up. There was a subtle color to the bag and dark stains where
it had been folded. I have been drawing on them ever since.
The tea bag drawings started off as individal pieces on single
tea bags and evolved into larger pieces with several tea bags
glued together. Images would be drawn and painted on the tea bags
before, during and after the gluing process. The transparent nature
of the tea bag allowed me to work on both sides of the paper simultaneously.
Two more bodies of work came out from drawing on tea bags. The
latest being "shaped-stain paintings." I start with
vellum and some left over tea or coffee and pour it onto a piece
of vellum. Several days later, after the stain has dried, I begin
to paint and draw on both sides of the stained vellum with ink
and acrylics. The shape of the stain sometimes dictates what images
are used. After the image is completed, I pour multiple layers
of poly vinyl acetate, an archival white glue, on to the vellum
to add some body. Then I cut the shape out with a blade. The shape
resembles skin or thick animal hide. I attach it to the wall using
straight pins and let it hang off the wall. (The pinning part
reminds me of dissecting an animal.)
I have also been working on a series of drawings using tea as
ink. There are subtle color changes with the type and strength
of the tea as well as a crisp line quality. The images come from
many sources including comic books, children's work books, and
images collected from personal travels. They have all been removed
from their original context and placed in a new one. I'm interested
in how the viewer may see these pieces as a type of storyboard
installation and how narratives may change in response to the
order of the images.