Notes From the Field: Quilting Tea

July 29, 2013

By Cheryl Katz

What appears to be a stack of carefully folded, sepia toned fabrics sits neatly on a table in the far corner of Sophie Truong’s studio.

One wonders if they are antique textiles to be incorporated into the artist’s next piece or a collection of small quilts that she uses as inspiration.

Photos courtesy of Sophie Truong

And then you notice the delicate uneven edges. And –could this be? – small tags attached to the loose strings peaking out between the folds. You begin to realize that this pile is not a pile of cotton cloth at all.

Smiling, Truong suggests you unfold one. Which you do, carefully. There is something almost ethereal about it. And then the artist reveals that these are constructed from teabags. Used teabags, collected from friends, neighbors, family, strangers, over time. Teabags opened up and emptied and flattened and stitched together.

You notice the color, the carefully placed stitches. You begin to understand the time. And the effort. And the beauty in the ordinary and everyday.

A few days later, over tea with friends, you will remember Truong’s painstaking work and think of Earl Grey in a whole new way.