my tea bag art

Why tea bag art?  Inspiration from working on used/recycled tea bags springs from a magazine article I read in the summer of 2017.  The featured artist made art out of all manner of recycled bits and pieces, including painting on tea bags.  Like many people who care about recycling, I was keen to use ready-to-hand 'waste' materials to work with.  I wrote to the artist I'd read about telling her how much her tea bag art had inspired me and I received a very encouraging reply.  Further enthused, I set to work.   Used tea bags are plentiful in my home and I could immediately see the potential of using the huge variety of bags that I had previously discarded in the recycle bin.  Teas/infusions leave all sorts of marks on the bag; from rosy pink stains to dark brown swirly patterns.  I work with these marks as they make the paintings that bit more interesting.  After preparing the bags, (which meant drying them out, removing the tea and ironing them), I experimented with different types of paints, finally settling on watercolour and gouache.  There was a lot of trial and error before I settled on which types of bags work best with paint and those which work best for the tiny tea dresses.

So, for now, tea bag art is what I'm really enjoying and seeing how far I can go with the ideas. 

Making art can be serious; it can also be whimsical, magical and fun.  I like to try a mixture of everything.

Tea Bag Art.  The beginning of my journey.....

used tea bags    


teabag painting of a bumble bee

The first teabag painting I did was of a bee in my garden.  I am fascinated by bees and love the way they go about their daily business.


bee painted on teabag by

Our bees are in serious decline due to a number of factors such as: climate change, industrial agriculture and the use of bee-killing pesticides.  Bees play a critical role in our lives as a third of the food we eat is dependent on their pollination.  To protect our bees and food production a more ecological farming method needs to be adopted.  At home, we can do our bit by planting bee-friendly flowers/plants.  Bees are particularly attracted to plants such as: lilac, lavender, sage, thyme and buddleia but to name but a few.  I read in a Gardener’s World mag that bees can see purple more clearly than any other colour… might be worth testing out the theory!

Let’s all do our bit to help protect and preserve these amazing little creatures

bee painted on used tea bag

our beautiful planet

There is no rhyme or reason as to which subjects I draw and paint – it's a random choice of whatever inspires me in the moment.  It might be that busy little bee in the garden, a bird on the feeder or a tiny weed growing out of a gap in a wall.  I am often inspired by an article I might have read or a documentary I have seen, e.g.  BBC's  Blue Planet 2.  The final episode which showed the harrowing scenes of the effects of plastic pollution in our oceans, will stay in my memory for a long time.  I was one of millions who were reduced to tears.  Again, let’s do our bit and p-p-pick up that plastic – and try to press those in positions of power to do more to protect this beautiful world we live in.

#passonplastic tea bag art by Trish Williams              #passonplastic

“Cherish or Destroy?  The choice is ours….”

Sir David Attenborough

Planet Earth painted on tea bag by Trish Williams
tea bag art by Trish Williams

I have had this recycled shopping bag for a number of years now – and still use it every week.  I love the message and the clever artwork. *Thanks to whoever designed it at Wholefoods…

p-p-pick up your plastic…

penguin on used teabag by Trish Williams

I painted this after seeing a photo of an African (or Jackass) penguin that had perished after having being caught in the plastic used to hold six-pack drink cans.  Many creatures, both land and sea, die this way.  Until this sort of plastic is banned then snipping with scissors – and recycling –  so animals don’t get trapped can help.

my surroundings

Our garden is a constantly changing source of ideas; in fact I could spend all my time sketching and painting different plants/birds/insects I find there.  My particular favourite is springtime when the daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses start to flower.

Great Tit painted on tea bag
snowdrops painted by Trish Williams

I love drawing farm animals; they have such characterful faces.  These two animals are from the Yeo Valley organic farm here in North Somerset.


Fresian painted on teabag by Trish Williams
tea bag art sheep by Trish Williams

tea dresses

The idea for the tea dresses came about after a bit of experimenting with the used bags.  I tried dipping them in dye; painting; using wax resist – all sorts of methods to try and get the appearance of material.  They are very fiddly to paint and construct but I’ve really enjoyed making them.

The black dress was inspired by the Golden Globes awards 2018 and the courageous women who stood up to speak out against sexual harassment, injustice and inequality.   #TimesUp

#TimesUp Little Black Dress by Trish Williams tea bag art