Tea Bag Ephemera for Junk Journals | Tutorial

My mom, Kathy, put together a video showing how she makes “tea bag” style ephemera for her junk journals! Kathy does a lot of interesting things with used tea bags and other “junk” items. She developed this ephemera square after looking for a way to upcycle and reuse her junk journal supplies. It’s kind of a mix of collage and mixed media art!

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These tea bag ephemera squares are great for mixed media and junk journals. Kathy uses them as corner tuck spots to hold journal cards, and the tea bag string can be used as a bookmark.

I’ve typed up instructions and a supplies list to go with her instructional video.

Materials needed

Photo courtesy CasablancaCargo/Kathy.
  • Used tea bags, dried
  • Scissors and decorative edge scissors
  • Paper bag or brown craft paper
  • Twine (or yarn)
  • Stamps of your choosing (mom used a vintage cancellation stamp, a teapot set, and one with “Paris” text)
  • Tim Holtz Distress Inks and Archival inks in shades of brown/dark brown
  • Matte Mod Podge, Art Glitter Glue, and Fabri-tac glue
  • Shape punches (mom used a flower punch and a small Eiffel Tower punch)

Project Instructions

Video Tutorial

Making the background

Open the used tea bag and empty the old tea out. (Don’t know how to save old tea bags for junk journals? Keep an eye out for an upcoming post!) It should unfold into a rather large rectangle. Retain the tea tag for later.

Next, cut a large rectangle out from the paper bag. The final square will be about 2″x2″, so a 4″x8″ section will allow for multiple ephemera pieces.

Stamp a background pattern across the paper bag section randomly using Archival inks.

Glue the tea bag rectangle to the paper bag section using Matte Mod Podge. Put a thin layer of Mod Podge on the paper bag section, place the tea bag on top, and then cover the tea bag with another thin layer of Mod Podge. Let dry.

Cut the paper bag/tea bag rectangle into a 2″x2″ square. (Mom’s using a previous ephemera square to measure it out, but you can just guesstimate or use a ruler.)

Cutting out and assembling decor

Use shape punch to cut out flowers from four different-colored pieces of card stock. Use the Eiffel Tower shape punch to cut out THAT shape from card stock.

Using Art Glitter Glue, glue down the Eiffel Tower shape to the right side of the tea bag square. Glue the flower shapes to the left side; mom used a different color for each part of the flower shape to give it more visual interest.

Cut a thin strip of cardstock in two colors (mom used green) and glue to the bottom of the tea bag square, slightly overlapping the flowers/Eiffel Tower. This gives it more dimension! Be sure to trim off any overhang.

Using the same color Archival ink as the previous stamping session, stamp the “Paris” text onto a light-colored piece of cardstock and cut out using decorative edge scissors. Using Distress ink and a ink sponge (mom’s using a repurposed makeup sponge), lightly distress the edges. Glue onto the top left space on the tea bag square.

Making the tea tag

Glue the original tea tag onto a piece of paper bag and cut it out.

Place a piece of twine on another piece of paper bag. Glue it down using Fabri-tac glue.

Place the tea tag over the twine, brown side facing you. If there’s not enough Fabri-tac glue left from gluing the twine, use some more. 😛 Cut out the tag shape again and voila! A new tea tag.

Stamp the teapot onto a piece of cardstock using Archival ink. Cut out the shape using a pair of decorative edge scissors and then distress the edges using Distress ink. Glue onto the new tea tag.

Finishing up

Cut another 2″x2″ square from the paper bag. This will be the back to the tea bag square.

Using Fabri-tac, glue the other end of the twine to the back of the tea bag ephemera square. Using Art Glitter Glue, glue the paper bag square to the back of the tea bag square, covering the twine.

Trim any overhanging paper. Done!

If you enjoyed this upcycling craft tutorial, Kathy sells her junk journals and handmade ephemera on her Etsy store— give her a visit!

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