Mike Zeis Tea Bag Printing

Printing on Stained Tea Bags with Mike Zeis

When I stopped by the Open Sky Community Art Gallery last Saturday to pick up my ”Doll Heads” contribution to the 2022 Macabre Art Show Pop-up, Lisa said that quite a few people at the reception wondered how I made the photo. I gave her a brief explanation and showed her some of the steps I had taken. She asked me to share my process, so here are some photos and commentary about the basic steps.

The photo was printed on tea-bag paper, salvaged after I made sun tea last summer. Somewhere I had heard about using tea-bag paper for printing and art projects, and in the summer of 2021, I checked out a few how-to videos on YouTube. Of course there were a variety of techniques and applications, and, while all of the artists/crafters produced fine-looking results, I did not see an immediate application.

Nonetheless, I started salvaging tea bags. Tea bags are really a folded paper tube with a crimped seal along the length of the tube, and a single staple at the top holding the whole thing together.

I removed the staple, but one can cut just below the staple and save some steps. At first, I worried that flecks of tea would attach themselves to the paper, so while the tea bags were still damp, I removed the tea and rinsed the remaining leaves off of the paper. The result was a very thin but sturdy fine-grained sheet, with an evenly-distributed hint of tea stain.

Mike Zeis Tea Bag Printing

With the next batch, I left the tea bags intact until they dried completely. When I unfolded the dried tea bags and removed the tea, I saw areas of deep stain, broad areas of light stain, and a few unstained areas. I felt these would be more appropriate for what I had in mind.

Mike Zeis Tea Bag Printing


When the call went out for pieces for the BVAA Macabre 2022 pop-up display, I figured I would give tea bags a try. I knew my printer would not feed this lightweight paper, so I had to attach the unfolded and flattened-out tea bag to a carrier sheet with masking tape, as I did a few years ago when I was printing on rice paper. The assembly fed through the printer without a problem. When I removed the tape to free the paper, I saw that the paper is so thin that ink had sprayed through the fibers onto the carrier sheet. “Sharing” the ink with the carrier sheet diminished the density of the image on the tea bag sheet itself.

Mike Zeis Tea Bag Printing

So for my photo, I needed to attach the tea-bag paper to the carrier sheet permanently with spray adhesive (I used 3M 77). Also, it’s more manageable to print the entire image in a single pass instead of on separate sheets that then would need to be matched up. Teabag paper measures 3 ¼” by 6″, so I needed glue four sheets down to reproduce the photo. If you know they’re there, you can spot the seams in the finished print.


The photo was taken at a vendor’s booth at the Oddities Flea Market in Brooklyn NY in December 2019. The vendor said that they are molds for doll heads that she found on a visit to Germany. If I remember right, she wanted $60 each. I left her collection intact. An event space isn’t ideal for taking pictures, mainly because of poor lighting. So most of the Photoshop work on this photo was to straighten the lines and adjust brightness and contrast. My non-tea bag image is in color (link below), but I converted the photo to black and white for the tea-bag print so the color would not distract from the grunginess of the tea stains.


One of many YouTube videos about printing on or with tea bags: https://youtu.be/j0_BrpC95BA
Link to the “standard” version of the Doll Head photo: https://flic.kr/p/2mkHk9w
Info about the Oddities Flea Market: https://theodditiesfleamarket.com/events

Ask with any questions!

Beautiful Castle Watercolor Painting Project for All Ages

Perfect for all ages! A delightful beginning watercolor project, “Beautiful Castle” teaches students about resist crayon, drawing lines, and handling adjacent colors.

Supplies:
a piece of watercolor paper
watercolors
a brush
a ruler
water

You can paint your castle in any colors you wish. If you want to match the shown image, Libia uses these colors: yellow, blue, red, and burnt sienna.

Visit DColorEx.com for a printable download of this Beautiful Castle, to use as a model.

Libia is available for online lessons both in group format and in one-on-one instruction. Perfect for aspiring students of all ages. A delightful way for students to expand their creativity and artistic expression even when unable to get out to an art studio!

Mon Mar 16 2020 – Share Your Art!

It’s Monday March 16, 2020! The Coronavirus is impeding the ability of some to share artwork in a communal space.

We’d love to see what you’ve been making at home!

Just leave a comment to this post and let us know what you’re working on. Share a note about your work-in-progress! To let us see photos, share a link to your Instagram page or wherever else you’re posting images!

We’d love to cheer you on!

Sun Mar 15 2020 – Share Your Art!

It’s Sunday March 15, 2020! The Ideas of March! The Coronavirus is impeding the ability of some to share artwork in a communal space. We have cancelled our traditional Saturday open paint at the gallery as a result.

We’d love to see what you’ve been making at home!

Just leave a comment to this post and let us know what you’re working on. Share a note about your work-in-progress! To let us see photos, share a link to your Instagram page or wherever else you’re posting images!

We’d love to cheer you on!

Sat Mar 14 2020 – Share Your Art!

It’s Saturday March 14, 2020! Pi Day! The Coronavirus is impeding the ability of some to share artwork in a communal space. We have cancelled our traditional Saturday open paint at the gallery as a result.

We’d love to see what you’ve been making at home!

Just leave a comment to this post and let us know what you’re working on. Share a note about your work-in-progress! To let us see photos, share a link to your Instagram page or wherever else you’re posting images!

We’d love to cheer you on!

Fri Mar 13 2020 – Share Your Art!

It’s Friday the 13th, 2020! The Coronavirus is impeding the ability of some to share artwork in a communal space.

We’d love to see what you’ve been making at home!

Just leave a comment to this post and let us know what you’re working on. Share a note about your work-in-progress! To let us see photos, share a link to your Instagram page or wherever else you’re posting images!

We’d love to cheer you on!

BVAA Pet Portrait Painters

The Blackstone Valley Art Association has many talented pet portrait painters in our mix. Here is a listing of the ones we know about so far. If you’re a BVAA member who offers pet portraits and aren’t on this list yet, contact us so we can add you in!

Betty Havens

Betty paints delightful watercolor pet portraits. During the holiday season she even does pet portraits while people wait! The rest of the time, simply email her a photo and she does her magic.

https://www.facebook.com/Bettyhavenscreations/

Karen Pendleton

Karen creates beautiful black and white illustrations of pets. She can add color to those if you wish.

Karen Pendleton Gallery

Scott Nelson

Scott is a talented illustrator and painter. He teaches drawing classes at the Worcester Art Museum and has illustrated many area children’s books.

Scott Nelson Artwork Details

Lynne Randolph

Lynne wins countless awards with her fine pastel work in our shows. Let her turn your pet portrait into a work of beauty.

https://www.facebook.com/Lynneartist/

If you’re a BVAA member who isn’t listed yet, let us know!

I’ll add a gallery of the instructors’ featured paintings here soon, once I hear from them what they want to showcase.

Mike Zeis – Rusty Door 4×5 film photography

It’s like gazing at clouds, looking at the back door of Pearl Art and Craft Supply in Central Square, Cambridge. Over time, stickers collected on the door. Then, probably through a store-manager’s edict, they were removed. Pearl was a three-story art-supply store in Central Square, Cambridge. I believe Blick occupies the space now. Shot with a 4 by 5 view camera, made in the mid ’80s from a kit from Fader Photo Works. Similar kits were offered by Bender Photographic.

This shot was taken in the Boston Public Garden during World Wide Pinhole Photography Day 2006. Click for a larger version.

Below is the full photo before cropping. Film: Fujifilm Velvia 100. Click for larger version. The final image is the bottom-right square.

After sanding and finishing the wooden pieces, assembly begins. Click for a larger version.

 

To see more of Mike Zeis’s images visit:

https://bvaa.org/galleries/gallery-mike-zeis/

 
Here are photos from the Blackstone Valley Art Association Anything Goes Reception 2019 where this photo was showcased.

This video has Mike Zeis explain how his 4×5 film camera works –