Ruby Silvious

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Art Design

Thousands of Used Tea Bags Assemble in Ruby Silvious’s Delicate Full-Size Garments

December 2, 2022

Kate Mothes

A child's dress made from tea bags.

All images © Ruby Silvious, shared with permission

When we steep a cup of tea, we typically toss out the bag once it has served up its brew, but for Ruby Silvious, this humble sachet provides the basis for a distinctive artistic practice. Known for her miniature paintings that use tea bags as canvases, she has expanded her use of the material by employing it as a fabric for larger-scale works that are inspired by her family history and an interest in fashion. “It gives me a chance to do large scale work, the antithesis to my miniature paintings,” she tells Colossal. “It’s only natural that my art has always been inspired by fashion. My maternal grandmother was a brilliant seamstress. I was only 20 years old when I migrated to the U.S. from the Philippines, and my very first job was at Bergdorff Goodman in New York City.”

Silvious began making garments in 2015, spurred by an ongoing fascination with the various methods of printing, staining, and assembling the deconstructed segments together. “I have accumulated bins of used tea bags,” she says, “not just from my own consumption but also from friends and family who have generously contributed to my growing collection.” She has made more than ten full-size kimonos, each requiring up to 800 used bags to complete. Pieces in her most recent series, Dressed to a Tea, average approximately 75 to 125 sachets, each one emptied out, flattened, and ironed before being glued together into shirts, slips, or child-size dresses. “Some tea bag pieces have monoprints on them, and the simpler designs are assembled with plain or slightly stained, used tea bags, giving them a more delicate and fragile look,” she explains.

A number of pieces from Dressed to a Tea will be on view in a weeklong exhibition at Ceres Gallery in New York from December 5 to 10. Her work will also be featured in a solo exhibit at the Ostfriedsisches Teemuseum in Norden, Germany, from March 4 to April 29, 2023. You can find more of Silvious’s work on her website and Instagram.

 

A shirt made out of tea bags.

A kimono made from tea bags.

Slips made out of tea bags.

Two images of a kimono made from tea bags, shown front and back. A child's dress made out of tea bags.

Two dresses made out of tea bags.

A kimono made from tea bags.

 

 

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Art Illustration

Miniature Watercolor Works by Ruby Silvious Are Painted on Stained Teabags

November 26, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Ruby Silvious, shared with permission

Ruby Silvious’s quaint seaside scenes and bucolic landscapes nestle between the torn edges and wrinkled folds of a used teabag. The Coxsackie, New York-based artist (previously) paints miniature scenes of everyday life on the stained paper pouches, leaving the string and tags intact as a reminder of the repurposed material’s origin. Silvious sells prints of her watercolor pieces on her site, and you can follow her latest projects and news about upcoming exhibitions—she will be showing her upcycled works in France and Japan in 2022—on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Illustration

Minuscule Scenes Appear Against the Backdrop of Used Tea Bags in Watercolor Paintings by Ruby Silvious

December 22, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Ruby Silvious, shared with permission

From her studio in Coxsackie, New York, Ruby Silvious (previously) repurposes the thin paper pouches holding her beverage of choice into miniature canvases. Sometimes strung together or ripped to remove the leaves, Silvious’s tea bags depict the quiet, unassuming moments of everyday life: Passersby trudge through the snow, masks hang to dry, and two women meet for a swim on the naturally dyed backdrops. The artist generally keeps the string and tag attached, matching the mundane subject matter with the material’s ritualistic origins.

Following her 2019 release Reclaimed Canvas, Silvious is working on another book and preparing for upcoming solo shows in France, Germany, and Japan. Shop prints on her site, and follow her soothing works on Instagram and Tumblr.

 

 

 



Art Illustration

Miniature Watercolor Landscapes and Fashion Sketches Delicately Painted on Used Tea Bags

November 19, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

After a good steep, Ruby Silvious (previously) reuses her tea bags as miniature canvases to paint sliced watermelon, serene landscapes, and models adorned in dress-shaped candy wrappers. The works typically keep the tags attached, reminding the viewer of their beverage-based origin. Her newest works were created during an art residency in Arenys de Munt, a town 45 minutes outside of Barcelona, Spain. In March 2019, her miniature paintings will be featured in a solo exhibition at Creative Space Hayashi located in Chigasaki, Japan. You can see more of Silvious’s work on her website and Instagram.

 

 



Art Illustration

Miniature Paintings on Tea Bags by Ruby Silvious

January 18, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Some of us may give our used tea bags a second life by squeezing an extra steep out of them, but Ruby Silvious takes things a step further by using the thin paper as a canvas for miniature paintings. Silvious mirrors the simple ritual of tea drinking in quiet paintings that show slices of everyday life, like laundry drying and cats looking out the window.

The artist began her initial year-long series of paintings in January 2015. Since then, Silvious has compiled that year into a book, and traveled to Japan and southern France for month-long sessions of tea drinking and painting. Her work is included in a group show “Deemed a Canvas” at Paradigm Gallery in Philadelphia, which opens on January 26th. You can see more of Silvious’ work on her website and Instagram.