tea-bag foldingAt the Homestead Museum’s “Ticket to the Twenties” Festival, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Sherry Venegas, whose creative and delightful paper goods, ranging from bookmarks to framed art, drew a crowd inquisitive about the craft of tea-bag folding.

I have loved origami since childhood and at one point considered myself proficient in floral origami.  No scissors or glue should be used, or the finished piece cannot be deemed origami.  Tea-bag folding, on the other hand, focuses not on the paper sculpturing of flora and fauna, but on the creation of medallion-like ornaments.  This is done by arranging and interconnecting (gluing or interlocking) several identically folded paper pieces, resulting in an intricate kaleidoscopic pattern suitable for ornamentation.

tea-bag foldingSo why is the art form called tea-bag folding?  Tiny van der Plas in Holland seems to be the first person to popularize this art form and has since published several related books.  European tea bags must have been quite colorful and elegantly printed for Tiny van der Plas to come up with the fanciful idea of folding them.  I have collected old gift boxes and candy wrappers, but never once have I wanted to save a tea bag.  A tutorial on the Internet suggests the use of security envelopes; could the envelope’s bluish inner lining be more aesthetic than many of the tea bag designs?!  Or perhaps I have not sipped enough tea-bag teas.

My collection of greeting cards now includes a red and black tea bag folding card made by Ms. Venegas, who also does not use tea bags.  Only after I examined the card at home did I notice that beneath the medallion that spins is a playing card from the Pleasure Pit Casino in Las Vegas.