Tea Bag Experimentation
After drying out used tea bags and emptying their leaves I experimented with ways in which to preserve their unique identity.
For the first test piece I poured latex directly into the tea bag in an attempt to replace the leaves with a foreign material that would protect and preserve the delicate object. From this experiment I realised that I was overlooking the functional qualities of the material as the liquid latex almost immediately seeped through the porous bag.
I then developed the method for a second trial using by painting a sealant layer of paraffin wax onto the inside of the tea bag before pouring the latex. The problem with this trial was that I had chosen latex as a preservation material which would retain flexibility to retain the quality of the original object, and so the thickness of the sealant wax layer was compromised by my efforts to stay true to my material. The wax sealant was partially successful in areas where it had been generously applied, however its functionality depended upon factors which in turn made the latex obsolete. By which I mean that the wax became the dominant material transforming the tea bag into a rigid form and so the act of pouring latex in the middle of that form did not add any new/useful quality.
I found the wax filled tea bag aesthetic appealing as it succeeded in retaining the original form and unique colours of the object. The concept of a wax preserve is a widely understood process and technique that I decided was most appropriate to my intentions. As well as proving itself as a controllable, suitable material; the paraffin wax transforms the object into a weighty solid which has the potential to further describe the weight of the individuals projections of meaning upon the reality of the object in its original form. I had thought of the placing of my preserved projections objects in identifying them as the ever-present, concealed entities of the tea drinking ritual. The obvious response that came to me was to describe this identification by hanging the tea bags from beneath the table which the tea sat upon. I thought that this idea based itself around the continuation of the stitched words (representing the individuals projections), organising the preservation's in such a way that has a literal string between the 'original' (tea bag, cup and ritual), and the documented (wax tea bags). After researching Clare Twomey, ideas about the hanging of my objects developed with Rena's critique on Twomey's strategy suspending works in space. Although the weight of the wax as a material asserts the significance of the projections, the weightlessness of the suspended object somehow retains the privacy and the individualism of any one persons experience of the same object.
I sewed the words identifying individuals projections of meaning (taken from the mind map) onto the tea bag before the wax preservation. The wax was absorbed by the thread and therefore captured the letters as part of the form.
To make the preserved word stand out more, i gently scratched away the top layer of absorbed wax to revive the original contrasting colour of the white thread.
To overcome the complications of the porousness of the tea bag, I prepared the tea bags by painting a few layers of wax on the inside allowing each layer to cool before the next was applied. I then allowed the wax to cool slightly, and used a syringe to fill the tea bag fixing the suspending string into the wax at the last stage of cooling.