Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Carmen Cay Art and Teabags as an Art Material

Artist Carmen Joyce in Action

I recently had the opportunity to ask artist Carmen Joyce of Carmen Cay Art about her work with tea bags as an art medium.  

Lynn: I would love to hear whatever you can tell me about how you started using tea bags as an art material.

Carmen: When I was in high school I would save my tea bags and use them for dyeing paper. I'd use a lighter to burn the edges of the paper, write poems on them and give them to friends. I've collected tea bags for the past 6 years or so. I didn't know what I wanted to do with them but I knew something would come to me!  About a year ago I started exploring the texture of the teabags wondering how I could use them in my artwork. That's when I started drawing on them. As I learned more about the teabags through handling them I realized they are fairly durable. I then started using glue to make bowls from the bags and I recently started to burn them to add a darker color. 

Lynn: Do you drink tea?  If so, does tea have any special meaning for you?

Carmen: I grew up in the South so I definitely drink tea! I used to drink sweet iced tea but now I stick with unsweetened. My morning ritual also involves a cup of hot tea. I like black teas, Earl Grey and jasmine teas. I love sitting on a porch with tea in hand as a welcome to the morning. 

Lynn: Do teabags represent anything in particular to you?
Carmen: Tea makes me think of community. Tea is peaceful, promotes calm and well-being and it brings people together. I love the traditions in other cultures regarding tea ceremonies. The color of tea and teabags have a sense of nostalgia for me. It makes me think of the past and reminds me of my ancestors from the United Kingdom. I wonder what tea they drank and what the meaning was for them. 

Lynn: Tell me whatever comes to mind about using teabags as an art material.

Carmen: Teabags are tough and pretty versatile. I really love burning them with a heat gun and finding ways to incorporate them into everything I create. They smell like burnt popcorn when they are burned. I've grown to consider teabags as just "paper" when it comes to an art media. When I think of them as paper it opens the door to further ideas, rather than limiting myself to it only being a "teabag". 

For more information about Carmen and her art making, see her website at

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Tea 101 MasterClass, September 2018

botanical illustration of the camelia sinensis plant

I am signed up to attend the Tea 101 MasterClass that is coming up next month in Lexington, Kentucky.  This will be such a valuable experience!  The course, organized by the team at Elmwood Inn Fine Teas, is for anyone who wants to be "immersed in tea culture."  Well, that's me!  As they state, tea is not just a beverage, it is a lifestyle. So, check back in September as I post about this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
© my tea diary
Maira Gall