Thursday, April 12, 2012


Once again I find myself sitting in the studio, wanting to work, but not being able to for one reason or another. Numerous thoughts are running in place in my mind, trying to build up steam, trying to break through the inertia, trying...and failing.

To be honest, whatever is floating around in the air right now has my head feeling like it's going to explode at any moment. Actually I'd be perfectly fine with that because it would have to feel better afterwards. Might be a bit messy if it really did, but what good art studio isn't a tad messy?

A glance around the studio found my gaze resting on new tea bags for my stash. Breaking through a bit of inertia, I got the tea bag bin down and once again the beauty of the used bags struck me.

My collection has been growing for over a year now. Every now and then an idea for how to use them flits through my mind and I think one day...

And that got me to wondering what stashes other artists have that they look at and think one day...


  1. i know all too well that great and terrible
    invisible barrier
    between us and the work
    that begs to be done.

    what a lovely stack you've collected!
    i hope it provides the ignition necessary
    for the imminent explosion.

    my stacks? various vintage lace, coffee stained tissue paper, eggshells. but you got me wondering that perhaps my studio is too neat
    at the moment.

  2. Oh Anca...your confession post had me sitting in front of the computer, tears in my eyes, chills all over my arms, nodding in agreement. It was a huge "been there/done that" moment and so honestly written.

    Yes. You do know about that invisible barrier that keeps us from working. Hopefully, my ennui and headaches will end soon so I can do more than just sit in the studio and think of all that needs doing.

    As for your stacks...they sound wonderful! The eggshells are to share a photo? When you have time, that is.

    Thank you for your note. It helps.

  3. There is something completely scrumptious about a pile of layered tea bags ...... they beg to be used in some creative way and I have no doubt inspiration will come. I do know what you mean though about sitting in the studio - longing to work but feeling that you cannot anchor your thoughts sufficiently. Once when I was in that state - pondering all the big ideas I had for things I wanted to produce, and was unable to as I had no studio or inspiration, Fiona and Barry sat me down and said something to this effect .......... why don't you make this the "Year of Small Things'! It made perfect sense to me. Small steps ......... until the larger ones unfold.

    Stacks - yes, aplenty. Rusted papers, leather and bookmaking papers, lustrous printmaking papers and copper sheets, torn papers ready for something ...... artist's books waiting for inspiration, postcards and resounding scraps of poetry printed or torn out, books, books, books ..... always books. Delicious clutter.

    1. "Delicious clutter". I can see it all from your wonderful description. Care to post a photo of one of your stacks on your blog? I'd really love to see what everyone else collects that is waiting for one day...

      What great advice you received from Fiona and Barry. Did you work small that year? I've had the same advice from a friend...only I didn't do a good job of following it. Found that working large first and then dividing that into smaller pieces worked best. Of course, all those small pieces are languishing in bins in the closet waiting for my rusting season to end or let up enough that they are brought back out into the light and worked on. Another one day...

      Am I allowed to admit to being just the tiniest bit envious that you live close to Fiona and Barry? Meeting them in New York was like sitting down with old friends that I hadn't seen in a while. Of course, they're just such lovely people that everyone they meet probably says the same thing.

      So far this morning, my ennui and headache have lifted so I'm looking forward to a productive day with my rusty pieces. Perhaps the tea bags would like a little rust... Enjoy!

  4. Oh I know the feeling, but it's going to happen because we are artists and art is what we do. I have thought about collecting used tea bags. How do you open them out? Do you use a blade or just gently pull them apart? Our tea bags are sachets and there is always a double edge in the middle if I want to keep them as big as possible.

    1. You do know the feeling of ennui. And from the numerous comments (50+ last time I looked, is it more now?) left on your post regarding your own, spring...or fall depending on geography...seems to be a particularly strong time for it among artists. I'm wondering why. Is it whatever is blooming and the pollen? Is it the changing light as it is for me? Probably one of life's mysteries...

      Tea bags are very collectible...some of them. I mostly keep the Lipton type bags. Once the staple is removed from the top, the bag can be laid flat to dry (with tea still inside). Once dried, the fun begins! The Lipton bags...actually do you have Lipton tea in South Africa?

      Anyway...the double edge in the middle, at least on Lipton tea bags, is a double fold which can be unfolded or simply ripped. On some, I manage the unfolding just fine...on others one side will rip away from the fold. Either way, the bags are usable for art.

      Check out the Missouri Bend Studio blog (in my blog list) for photos of her amazing work with tea bags.

      Can't wait to see what you do with tea bags!

  5. Right now it feels like stacks are everywhere..papers, books...reminders of what needs to get done and what wants to get done. The pollen's been a killer this year of no winter. I think I'm just overwhelmed by saying "yes" to too much and knowing in reality that I need to say "no" occasionally.

    The stacks...lots of printed and painted samples mostly for classes but I really do like looking at them. Tons of beads..way too many...but guess that's what happens when you work at a bead store twice a week!

    I am hatching a Roy G Biv plan. I think this was hatched at 4 AM when my left sinus was screaming at me and I had to shove a tissue up my nose (too much info, I know). I am thinking that each color deserves a bit more time. Maybe a week to start. And could be a week of diving into the color...photographing, painting, printing or whatever with it (even wearing it). Could be an interesting diversion, at least and might get the juices flowing...

    1. Photos of the stacks please! On your blog...

  6. oh Jennifer - this feeling seems to be enfolding so many...
    I am always hesitant to admit (publicly) that I do sometimes wallow in a place of dismal inability - and - I will say that my head has exploded (not sure how I can admit this to you and your readers - but there it is) a funky hip in chiropractic repair has unleashed buried dark places - forgive me - but spilling has been the mode this past week... that said: I live in a stack-filled environment... yes - a small folder of tea bags that I fondle frequently, stacks of rusty and eucalyptus dyed fabrics - yes I made a modest gypsy tent yesterday - laying in the sun sorting the mental flotsam... the weather is lovely and I reprimand myself for feeling this way - clearly, Anca's, Robyn's and now your post have brought me out of hiding - it is hard to admit to the darkness... piles and wooden bowls of stripeys, beach glass, driftwood - so many treasures from walks that jump into my pockets, journals waiting to be bound, papers wanting to be part of a collage, citrus bowls and seeds - well - you know... and then of course the "finished" things... needing to consider how I might focus and simplify... but alas it is a great day for some outdoor rusting... forgive my whine - thank you for your openness - I feel less alone...

    xox - eb.

    1. My dear EB, you really are not alone. We all wallow in a place of dismal inability from time to time, our heads explode or implode...or simply shrivel up and fall off from non use. Dark places come to light whether we want them to or not and, if all is right with the universe, we come out on the other side...a bit bruised perhaps, but hopefully better than before.

      Friendship and art are great healers. And I do of what I write...especially the friendship part. The art part...that's still being sorted out.

      Just remember - You. Are. Not. Alone.

  7. thank you
    thank you

    so sweet to know
    are a group of us used tea*bag collectors...


    i have no inertia Here,
    instead i am over whelmed by ideas
    flitting from one thing
    to another---butterfly*like---
    unable to finish...
    as the lovely weather draws me to the garden...
    & count down to travel...
    & the beach nearby...

    is there enough Time...

    i long to plop down,
    eb style,
    in a gypsy tent,
    even briefly as she,
    learn the Fine Art Of Languish.

    we must not push the rope
    instead Be
    with all thingies...

    1. It just occurred to me to wonder what a Google search
      for used tea bag art would show? Hmmm...

      Yes. Used tea bag collecting is more common than one would think. And using them in art is even more so. Shortly after my own collection began, I saw an artist who printed photos on them, collaged them - or not - and sold the pieces at art shows. Very simple, yet powerful in the simplicity.

      Oh! Your countdown to the Peacock Pavilions again or somewhere different this time? Regardless, have a wonderful trip! And post photos, of course...perhaps of a gypsy tent...

  8. Jennifer, we do have Lipton tea bags here and I'm looking forward to opening a few out to experiment with. I love Patti's work (Missouri Bend)especially her last batch of tea bag paintings. Thanks for the info. Hope your head is feeling better!

    1. My head is still in place - explosion and resulting messiness averted...for now. Thank you for asking.

      I can't wait to see what you do with tea bags. Do you think they'll be incorporated with your carvings somehow or used in an entirely different way? Regardless, you'll use them wonderfully.


  9. Hi J - better late than never hey? As you know, this set me thinking about my own stashes and yes - they are there under my very nose! Art pieces-in-waiting I hope.

    It's always lovely to see how others deal with those blocks and moments when we all I say "I don't know" or "I can't", and as ever, good to know we're not alone. Hope the weekend let you play a bit...

    1. I loved seeing your stacks yesterday! Thank you for posting them!

      Yes. It is good to know that we're not alone in those moments of blocks, doubts, darkness. Actually, I'm a bit surprised to realize just how many are experiencing the same or similar feelings just now. What is it that seems to be flitting around in the atmosphere, causing such mayhem and madness?

      The weekend was good. My head has finally totally cleared. It's so nice to be able to think coherently again! Hope your week is great!

  10. J-now see what you have started - an international 'stackies movement' or is 'stackies anonymous"!!! You certainly seem to have brought the collectors out of the woodwork - lots of fun - makes me smile to see what artists gather around them. Go well. B

    1. Isn't it wonderful? Love your titles of international "stackies movement" and "stackies anonymous"! Will you be joining the movement as well? I imagine you have a rather scrumptious collection of rusted bits and tools in your studio. Please? Enjoy! Jennifer

  11. I'm loving looking at these stashes….is it too late for me to join the party?

    1. It's never to late to join the party! By the way, welcome to my blog. Just took a quick look at yours and am very curious to see what stacks and stashes you have. Exquisite photography you've got over there.


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