Lonely Planet Writer

An artist is creating stunning travel-inspired pieces on used teabags

For visual artists, travelling can present some truly unique and interesting opportunities. And while seeing a new place can serve as the perfect inspiration for a piece of work, oftentimes, finding the time and materials necessary to create while on the move can be challenging. One artist who got around this problem is New Yorker Ruby Silvious, who paints stunning images inspired by her travels on used teabags.

A French alley scene pained on a chai teabag.
A French alley scene pained on a chai teabag. Image by Ruby Silvious

Ruby first began experimenting with teabag art back in 2015, painting small scenes and objects from her daily life onto the objects, pleased with the way that each steeped teabag supplied a unique look and texture. This led to the artist creating area-specific pieces inspired by places that she journeyed to, including the 26 Days of Tea in Japan project, which began after Ruby travelled to Itoshima in Fukuoka to be an artist in residency.

A Geisha piece created on a teabag.
A Geisha piece created on a teabag. Image by Ruby Silvious

In 2017 Ruby created the 26 Days of Tea in France project, inspired by her time in Hyères at the southern tip of the Côte d’Azur. Throughout the projects, Ruby used the same techniques, a mixture of painting, printmaking and collage.

Teabag art
Ruby creates the pieces using a mixture of painting, printmaking and collage. Image by Ruby Silvious

“The teabag size is manageable, and stains left on used tea bags make for an interesting canvas. I’ve come to love painting on everyday objects, so now I feel challenged to find new materials to make art from anything and everything everywhere I go. Constantly finding new media is an exciting challenge for me,” Ruby said.

Ruby also creates art on other recycled and found materials, including egg and pistachio shells. Image by Ruby Silvious

Currently working on a kimono series on used teabags, Ruby’s work also focuses on other recycled and found materials, and she is also working on a brand new book entitled Reclaimed Canvas, which sees artwork appearing on materials such as pistachio and egg shells, as well as steeped teabags.

More of Ruby’s work is available at her official website as well as on her Instagram account.